Under the title 'Digital / Physical Growth' the project undertaken within MakeLab this year was aimed at producing a vertical structure that would be structurally stable. To allow for an incremental growth process that could be executed in steps both in the digital as in the physical environment, a modular system of nesting truncated octahedrons was chosen. These cells pack tightly together forming a strong structural system, while allowing for variation in overall tower shape by adding or removing cells in relation to environmental data.
A computational growth strategy was developed to translate views towards the surroundings from the site, stacking cells in specific locations that face toward the views. As some views at lower levels were oriented towards different directions than other views at higher levels, the resulting tower formation took on asymmetric character. Using further steps of digital analysis and generative design, the structural forces that would result from this asymmetry were compensated for through additional material thicknesses in local areas within the tower structure.
The resulting series of mass-customised cells were manufactured using CNC routed flanges and standardised timber length to strengthen the ribs of the cells. The repetition of this detail allowed the group of workshop participants to construct 11 modules in a short timeframe, transport them one by one to the forest location and connect them together into the predesigned tower configuration.
The resulting 4.2 meter tall tower is now located along a public pathway through the Hooke park forestry, offering an inhabitable structure to passers by at a strategic location to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.
The asymmetry resulting from the site-specific growth strategy would result in asymmetrical loads due to cantilevering part of the tower. In a further step within the generative design process, the loads and stresses were analysed using structural analysis plugins within Grasshopper. The flanges of the cells were then thickened in the locations where additional strength was needed.
Slideshow of the workshop process.
MakeLab director: Jeroen van Ameijde
Tutor team: Zachary Mollica, Yutao Song, Alejandro Garcia Gadea
Workshop participants: Christelle Ayle, Giulio Dini, Clare 'Beryl' Graham, Ling Leng, Solon Liosis, Justyna Michalska, Adrian Kozikowski, Satyam Satyam, Malgorzata Stanisławek