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Austin Samson Southern California Institute Of Architecture

M.Arch 2 samson.austin@gmail.com

2012-2013

Intro An AD-Hoc Approach To Digital Computation The purpose of this Portfolio is to convey the virtuosity of digital technique through the design and fabrication of architectural elements of multiple scales. The use of digital programming for any type of design has become so popular that it is now embedded in most, if not all, firms across the world. It is now the task of Avant-Garde schools, professors, and firms to keep on pushing the use of these techniques in hopes of discovering ways of creating never before seen forms and spaces that are capable of conveying the ever evolving theories that accompany them. There are numerous paths that have been taken in order to push, refine, or invent new techniques of 3D modeling. Patrik Schumacher for example has perused a discourse he labels as Parametricism, in short, the ability for digital design to produce fully integrated forms that allow for the highest level of human communication; where nothing begins or nothing ends, everything is singular and interconnected with everything else; more of an urban approach. Other firms still cling onto the High Tech usage of digital programs such as Foster and Partners or Renzo Piano. The High Tech calls for the invention of new building methods and machinery to produce buildings that respond to more conventional architectural problems such as building efficiency, cost, and green design. I on the other hand, am more interested in a much different approach which takes a closer look at a much wider variety of programs that we as designers have available to us. There are many different types of programs and building techniques that have been created to perform certain tasks for example Maya was created as animation software to create animated film, ZBrush is a sculpting program for video game designers, and programs like TouchDesigner were created for advanced interactive video projection. The goal I am trying to achieve is the ability to understand what happens when your force architecture to utilize these programs in ways that they are not meant to be used. This approach can be deemed an AD-HOC approach to digital computation in architecture. The term Ad Hoc can refer to the ability of one to create makeshift solutions or shifting contexts to create new meanings or improvised events. Therefore, I am calling the ability to use digital means of design and fabrication outside of their intended use for the purpose of architectural design as AD-HOC-ISM. Instances of Ad Hocism providing answers to technological issues are clearly outlined and explained in Space Suit by Nicholas de Monchaux. Space Suit is a book that explains Ad Hocism’s ability to provide us with unintended answers to technological problems by citing numerous inventions, the primary being the invention of the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment, “which used the industrial division of the Playtex Bra and Girdle Company, against stiff opposition from hard, one-piece suits much beloved by designers� (Monchaux). By linking this piece of writing to the digital techniques we use to design architecture, I hope to find new ways of creating unintended form as a result from a high understanding of the latest digital means of design and production and how they can be used in sync with one another.

Resume Education Los Angeles, CA, USA Sept 2012 - Sept 2014

Southern California Institute of Architecture Master of Architecture - GPA: 3.78

Boston, MA, USA Sept 2008 - Aug 2012

Wentworth Institute of Technology B.S. In Architecture - GPA: 3.313

Work Experience Los Angeles, CA April 2013 - Present

Xefirotarch Design Intern

Boston, MA, USA Jan 2011 - Dec 2012

RadLab Inc Design Intern - Used Rhino as primary 3D modeling program. - Self taught Grasshopper Algorithmic Design Program. - Used 3D printers and laser cutters. - Worked on projects ranging from industrial and furniture scales to architectural scales. - A high understanding of the relationships between digital design and fabrication was required.

Groton, CT, USA April 2010 - Jan 2011

General Dynamics - Electric Boat Facilities Intern - Submarine design and fabrication company - Gained experience with client to company relationships. - Experience with bidding process. - Reviewed various types of construction documents from architectural to electrical. - A work place of high efficiency and zero tolerance for error.

Travel Experience Berlin, Germany Spring 2012

While attending Wentworth I had the unique oppotunity to study abroad in Berlin, Germany. While in Europe, I studied under German practicing architects and was able to travel to places including Prague, Spain, Italy, Amsterdam, France, and Switzerland.

Skills 3D Modeling - Rhino - Grasshopper - Maya - Revit - Autocad - ZBrush - Sketchup - Modo - 123D Catch

Animation - After Effects - Premiere

Rendering - Mental Ray - Photoshop - Illustrator - V-Ray - Maxwell

Fabrication - Hand Modeling - Woodworking - Metalworking - Laser Cutters - 3D Printing - Vacuum Forming - CNC Milling - Composite Forming

Other - Photography - Adobe Bridge - Adobe Indesign - Microsoft Office - EcoTect - SmartFORM

Table Of Contents

X_Lab Sir John Soane Museum

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Visual Computation The New Painterly Design Documents Art Forms of Nature Tableau Vivant Exact Forms

15 35 43 49 53

Digital Computation Coding Form Mess Ensemble Advanced Structural Systems Advanced Building Systems

57 71 85 93

Fabrication Robotic Portraiture Composite Forming

97 105

Writings “The Infraspace” “Matter Matters” “Thesis Statement”

112 116 122

X_Lab Sir John Soane Museum Prof: Hernan Diaz Alonso This project looks at creating space through the layering of geometry and understanding the implications of carving into a thing that is not a solid mass and instead a thing that appears solid on the outside but is actually one continuous surface that is inflated within itself to create volumes within volumes that can be carved into. The notion of creating space through the layering of things is not new, we can look at Aldo Van Eyck as a way to understand what it means to create space though different techniques of layering with surfaces and volumes to create courtyards, outer space, and inner space. This project aims to re-think the way in which Van Eyck creates his space by using different methods such as carving. Hierarchy is achieved through the use of a Jungle as a frame for understanding how many things inter – relate to one another. At first glance, a jungle appears chaotic, messy, and uncontrolled. However, when one takes a much closer look, a Jungle is a system of many things that are intertwined and highly organized in order to create a very strict relationship between all things that occupy the space. This project aims to do the same. Hierarchy begins with the 6 large chunks that have been carved from the original primitive. They have a hierarchy in themselves as the volumes within volumes become smaller and larger depending on how each chunk is carved out. Secondary and tertiary elements are then added that account for structure and circulation that mitigates between the larger chunks. Solid mass is then added to take up leftover space, and a shell is added to enclose the space. To complete the hierarchy, architectural elements such as floor plates and stairs are added. It is important to note that each element is its own thing and carries its own set of characteristics, scale, and textural quality. As equally important, elements do not blend into other elements. Floor plates are separate objects that are not grafted into walls or other things, for example. This is done in order to maintain the Jungle – like effect. It also forces one to consider how two separate things react with one another and how one thing can force another to evolve or change rather than to simply overtake it. Corruption of the project can be found in multiple instances. It began with the decision to create volumes within volumes rather than a solid mass, thus dramatically changing the effect carving would have. It can be found in the details, where edges of the carved chunks begin to puff out like a bruised lip. Strange seems begin to appear where different things are forced to interact with one another. Corruption can also be found in the moment of second carving. After the space was filled with things, a second round of carving was used to create occupiable space within the dense jungle. Here, the insides of the chunks are ripped out, leaving behind a messy, torn version of what it once was. Program is dictated by breaking each chunk into multiple levels of space, where the top floor of each chunk is used as residential space and each subsequent floor is used for museum program. Occupiable space is found both within the chunks and on the outside of the chunk. This allows one to become fully immersed within the carved spaces, but still be allowed to view the carved pieces as things within a space.

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Sir John Soane Museum

Primitives

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Primitives

Sir John Soane Museum

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Sir John Soane Museum

First Carving

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Front Elevation

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Sir John Soane Museum

Top View

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Sir John Soane Museum

Rear View/Art Housing in FLoors

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Sir John Soane Museum

Context

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3d Printed Model

Sir John Soane Museum

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Sir John Soane Museum

3D Printed Model

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Visual Computation The New Painterly Prof: Andrew Atwood Partner: Danny Karas Program: Theater Space Location: Los Angeles The project revolves around the idea of using the Chiaroscuro effect as a way to create and manipulate three-dimensional space within a two dimensional drawing or image. This is done by using conventional drawing techniques, such as hatching, in new ways to represent shade and shadow. The layering of these hatching techniques may either enhance shadow, produce fake shadow (where shade is literally painted on) or flatten areas of the image in order to produce moments of ambiguity within each drawing. Projection in orthographic view is one of the techniques used to created the imagery. The projection of shade and shadow onto 3 Dimensional objects like a sphere or square give new insight to how we understand depth within a 2 Dimensional image. Animated projection was also used by projecting animated shadow movements onto a sectional relief model to produce and object whose depth is continuously changing and being altered. The geometry was created on an outside first, inside second process. The outside geometry is meant to be a convex, multi-sided object that has been smoothed to remove any hard edges, much like a weathered rock. This produces a sort of Michael Meyers (Halloween mask) type effect. A single hard edge and sculpted cut out of the object gives it a point to be oriented against. Instances of shadow were then interpreted and painted on the outside to produce levels of ambiguity within the object, moments where you are unsure if geometry extends into darkness or brightness or if it stops short. The inside of the object is separated from the outside, rather than just an offset, these squares intersected by spheres allow us to understand the difference between a hard edge and a soft "edge" and how the projection of imagery can enhance or fake those moments. Hatching was the primary technique used to interpret shade and shadow and is what helps tie the entire project together by giving a single direction to the hatching that is continuous throughout the project. Different densities of hatch help darken, lighten, flatten, or add contrast to each image and the single type of hatch in the same direction do not over clutter the composition. Diagonal structured components were used to enforce the direction of the imagery. The project is meant to explore new ways of understanding how designers create and read projects through orthographic images and the projection of imagery onto 3 dimensional objects. This project is about the drawing and how it can translate into other mediums.

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The New Painterly

Section Rendering

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Massing Studies

The New Painterly

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The New Painterly

Massing Studies

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Hatch Rendering

The New Painterly

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The New Painterly

Physical Models

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Elevations

The New Painterly

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The New Painterly

Physical Models

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Section Rendering

The New Painterly

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The New Painterly

Physical Model

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Plan Rendering

The New Painterly

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The New Painterly

Plan Rendering

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Arial/Axon Renderings

The New Painterly

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The New Painterly

Physical Model

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Visual Computation Design Documents Prof: Tom Wiscombe Herwig Baumagartner Partners: Danny Karas Jeff Halstead Nanyen Chen Lung Chi Chang

Program: Theater Space Location: Los Angeles

The Design Documents class was a look into a new way at representing the DD stage of design through the use of a 9foot by 9foot megadrawing that contains all the components of the building on one page and at multiple scales. New representational techniques were explored such as the pealing away of outer skins in order to show the inner components which allowed for a greater graphic connection between the outside of the building and what happens on the inside. The project chosen was the New Painterly Project shown on the previous pages of this Portfolio.

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Design Documents

9foot x 9Foot Mega Drawing

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Exploded Axo

Design Documents

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Design Documents

Chunk D

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Axo

Design Documents

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Design Documents

Chunk C-1

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Skin Chunk

Design Documents

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Design Documents

Skin Chunk/Panel Types

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Visual Computation Art Forms of Nature Prof: Rob Eleazer

Similarly to the Academy of Beaux Arts, this project begins with a 21st century version of “still life�. But this time the study will be conducted through the eyes of a scientist - as opposed to those of an artist, and instead of using conventional representational techniques, this project will explore the use of Maya. Reflecting this shift in current professional and acedemic discourse, the excersize will explore how the use of software redefines the concept of form. Encouragement to think in terms of organic growth and wholeness, instead of stillness and compositional parts is apparent.

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Line Drawing

Art Forms Of Nature

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Art Forms Of Nature

Line Drawing

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Visual Computation Tableau Vivant Prof: Elena Manferdini Partner: Andrew Choi

This project is an experiment that deals with the relationship between coloration, surface treatment, materials, and geometric relief. There is an interaction among different techniques of representation: 3D Data aquisition with 123D Catch by Autodesk, detailing and poly-painting in Zbrush by Pixologic, and work flow with modeling software like Maya by Autodesk. Issues of digital visualization and rendering were brought up while creating an imaginary landscape that departs from analog modes of design. An exhibition was held to showcase the the images which also included two videos that projected each landscape morphing through a series of conditions over time. The exhibition was designed and fabricated by a team of students: Andrew Choi, Jeff Halstead, Sam Sun, and lead by myself.

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Tableau Vivant

Exhibition Setup

50

Visual Computation Exact Forms Prof: Andrew Atwood Partner: Danny Karas

This project explores the use of animated hatching as a way to show shadow movement over an object. Through the use of a program called TouchDesigner, we were able to project an animation of shadow movement represented as hatching onto an object. The exploration of projectiing onto geometry is a way to test diferent levels of ambiguity within real space and on physical objects, rather than just in an image or video.

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Exact Forms

Hatching Projection

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Hatch Projection

Exact Forms

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Exact Forms

Hatch Projection

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Digital Computation Coding Form Prof: Satoru Sugihara

Coding Form is a series of exercises that involve the use of grasshopper, an algorithmic design plugin for Rhino3D. Grasshopper is probably best known for its ability to design parametrically through the use of “sliders” that control the parameters of a system. The problem with parametric design is that it utilizes programs like grasshopper as a top down design system where grasshopper is the only design tool being used. Granted it outputs some interesting forms but it results in many designs that are homogeneous. The second issue with letting algorithmic programs dictate design is that it tends to remove the architects responsibilities to design a building that is for the people. Digital programs like this do one of two things. They either completely ignore the fact that these buildings are meant for use by humans and rely solely on their ability to produce something “cool” OR they rely on information of the masses and assume all people act in the same way or manner which is also problematic. The next series of projects aim to suggest a new way of algorithmic design where programs like grasshopper are not the driving force of design but are simply just one tool that is utilized to carry out a pre-determined design goal. These projects also attempt to convey a level of randomness within the design. Typically algorithmic programs output very controlled and “gradient like” designs that change slightly over time. These projects call for the corruption of the parametric type design with random, seemingly uncontrolled results that are in fact very precise in how they are made.

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Coding Form

Random Component Distribution

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Random Line Patterning

Coding Form

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Coding Form

Image Mapping

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Grasshoppered Skyscraper

Coding Form

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Random Cell Structure

Coding Form

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Coding Form

Random Cell Structure

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Coding Form

Random Panel Structure

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Random Panel Structure

Coding Form

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Coding Form

Random Panel Structure Model

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Digital Computation Mess Ensemble Prof: Ramiro Diaz Granados Partners: Albert Kos Program: Winery Location: Mendoza, Argentina

The intention of this project is to consider the field from the perspective of the incongruous rather than the coherent. The relationship between multiple fields as well as between objects and fields is informed by an approach that mines the potential of heterogenity. The ensemble, where each part is considered in relation to its resonance with the whole, is approached from a perspective of mutable part-to-whole relationships capable of embracing both a logic of the discrete in which geometric and material entities maintain clear identities and performances, as well as a sensibility of melded, compound entities. A series of analog processes were used to create a cast of objects that were then scanned into the computer and analyzed as digital models. The models were then re-interpreted as characters placed on the site who took on distinct features giving them a life-like quality. The landscape was also created using a series of analog techniques that involved casting latex and unwrapping it to a flattened state. The process and end result provided a surface that could then be analyzed and interpreted into the designed landscape.

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Mess Ensemble

Canopy

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Analogue Landscape

Mess Ensemble

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Mess Ensemble

Digital Landscape

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Analogue Characters

Mess Ensemble

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Mess Ensemble

Analogue Characters

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Landscape Model

Mess Ensemble

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Mess Ensemble

Canopies On Landscape

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Characters

Mess Ensemble

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Mess Ensemble

Character Interaction

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Physical Model

Mess Ensemble

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Mess Ensemble

Physical Model

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Interior Render

Mess Ensemble

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Mess Ensemble

Interior Rendering

84

Digital Computation Advanced Structural Systems Prof: Greg Otto Partners: Danny Karas Carlos Vargas

Modern architecture saw the division of labor within the profession resulting in different areas of expertise such as design (the architect), the structural engineer, or the mechanical engineer. Because of this, there is now a gap between the architect and the structural engineer that needs closing, especially when architecture is progressing toward unique and unexplored building forms. In order to close this gap, modeling programs such as SmartForm are being created in order to provide architects with a modeling program that can carry across structural concepts. These programs understand the potentials of established structual systems such as membranes, shells, tension structures, plates, and cable-nets. The next three projects are meant to explore the use of SmartForm to explore membrane tension, catenary chains, and a combonation of tension and compression. Understanding both the digital aspect of SmartForm and the physical aspect of modeling these digital forms is key. In Tension: The first project explores the use of gravity and weight to hold a membrane fabric in constant tension in order to maintain it’s form. The membrane fabric used is panty hose. A series of rings were used to apply form with the bottom ring being weighted to hold the fabric in tension. Catenary Forming: The second project uses the idea solidifying catenray chains to produce a dome like structure. Suspended Form. The third project uses a combonation of tension and compression to suspend a structure in space.

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Structural Analysis

In Tension

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In Tension

Physical Model/Scale

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Physical Models

Catenary Forming

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Plan

Iso

Elevation A

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Elevation B

Catenary Forming

Force Diagrams

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Rendering/Physical Model

Suspended Form

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Suspended Form

Force Diagrams

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Digital Computation Advanced Building Systems Prof: Ilaria Mazzolini Jeff Landreth Partner: Greg Ingalls

This project looks at new ways of understanding econimic design solutions for complex structures through the use of Ecotect combined with grasshopper. By using the two programs in unison, an optomized sun shade was able to be created for the building.

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Advanced Building Systems

Rendering/Climate Analysis

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Paneling Position Analysis

Coding Form

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Advanced Building Systems

Rendering/Climate Analysis

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Fabrication Robotic Portaiture Prof: Devyn Weiser Partners: Nanyen Chen Lung Chi Chang Lily Nourmansouri Lin Wenxin Our project aims to provide a better understanding of the robots inability to produce exact replicas of a portrait painting by understanding its tendency to create unforeseen effects due to certain environmental and technical factors such as the properties of the tools, mediums, or manual interaction from humans. In the earlier experiments, we discovered that the markers were capable of producing streaks of very fine linework when they are used in a specific manner. During later experiments we spent time trying to understand all the different parameters that can affect the type of streak, the density of the streaks, and the thickness of the lines. During final production we refined and mastered those parameters so that we could begin to control the discrepancies of the linework in a much more localized and decisive fashion. The parameters we were taking control over included the tension of the canvas as it was being hung, the dryness and thickness of the marker, the path of the marker, the amount of pressure given to the marker against the canvas, and the type of stroke. The result was a series of paintings that used a hand-like wrist movement (much like a painter stoking a brush) along the contours of a face that were created by using a 3D model of a face within a digital interface. Each series of paintings changes slightly in density and lineweight as we pressed the canvas harder against the marker and allowed the marker to dry out over the course of its path.

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Robotic Portaiture

Prelim Marker Tests

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Portrait Abstraction

Robotic Portaiture

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Robotic Portaiture

Color Overlaying

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Streaks Test

Robotic Portaiture

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Robotic Portaiture

Final Portrait 1

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Final Portrait 2

Robotic Portaiture

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Robotic Portaiture

Detail/Process

104

Fabrication Composite Forming Prof: Marcelo Spina Partners: Albert Kos Harrison Steinbuch Peder Brand Greg Ingalls

This project aims to explore the possibilities of extreme lightweight materials in architecture. By taking advantage of the advanced manufacturing capabilities from companies such as North Sails 3DL and 3DI systems and technologies, this project will explore the use of composite materials of layered carbon fiber, tow, and resin. Close attention is paid to the use of digital computation when combined with non-mechanical modes of fabrication such as adhesive assembly.

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Composite Forming

Tape and Resin Model

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Layering Process

Composite Forming

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Composite Forming

Composite Layers

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Pattern Renderings

Composite Forming

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Composite Forming

Physical From over Light

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Pattern Diagrams

Composite Forming

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Composite Forming

Model Details

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The Infra Space What Happens When Architectures Kiss

Architecture need not be framed by the sea in which it resides, but must instead create a frame for itself that both defines a finite moment for the building and for the city. The city must be subject to its architecture, that is to say architectural form must control the city. In order to reach such a state, architecture needs to be able to separate itself from the city, its organization, and its government or what Aureli refers to as the architecture’s “other”. Aureli depicts this scene as an archipelago, islands within a sea, the islands being the architecture and the sea representing urbanization. The archipelago sets up the necessary conditions that allow us to understand and criticize architectural form in its true state because it is no longer being conformed to the needs of a city where politics are being struck down by its own economy. There is an intense relationship between what is framing and what is being framed. Aureli calls for a system where the architecture can create its own boundary, and this in turn modifies the sea where it lies. It is the tension that lies within the moment of contact between the sea and the architecture that I find most interesting.

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The Infraspace

Pier Aureli uses Cerda’s plan of Barcelona to mark the beginning of Urbanization. Source: Absolute Architecture by Pier Aureli

Aureli refers to this as the infra space, the space that lies within the moment of contact between the sea and the island. Here is where I believe Sylvia Lavin is positioning herself as well. Although maybe too literal, I cannot help but compare the sea breaking against island rocks on the shore to the way Lavin speaks of kissing in architecture as a, “coming together of two similar but not identical surfaces”. Perhaps a beach where the sand is able to change form when it meets the ocean waves is closer to Lavin’s explanation of, “surfaces that soften, flex, and deform when in contact… during which separation is inconceivable yet inevitable.” Aureli takes great strides to inform us of how the current mindset of urbanization has been failing for some time now. Beginning with comparisons between Greece and Rome, Aureli explains how Rome’s profound desire for expansion and a perfect as well as infinite urban plan ultimately led to its destruction. He points out the comparison between polis and urbs where the former, “can be described as an archipelago, not only because it took this geographical form, but also because the condition of insularity as a mode of relationships was its essential political form” (5).

Contemporary Theory 2

Austin Samson

The later Aureli describes as, “an insatiable network in which the empire’s diversity became an all-inclusive totality.” Where polis aims to frame, urbs aims to maintain its infinite qualities. The action of framing and limiting actions is important because by doing so it allows for actions to reach a full potential rather than running endlessly and carelessly into nothingness. There are other advantages to this archipelago scenario. Because Aureli calls for an absolute architecture, the possibility of scenarios falling into dangerous modes of repetition no longer exists. Creating new objects for the sake of newness no longer becomes a priority.

Frederick Kiesler’s Saks Fifth Avenue store window exemplifies the possibility that the exterior wall, when separated from the interior, can use multiple forms of engagement to connect itself with the urbanization of the city. Source: Kissing Architecture by Silvia Lavin

Aureli’s depiction of an Archipelago using Berlin’s various green spacesand referring to it as a city within a city. Source: Pier Aureli

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Contemporary Theory 2

Within this archipelago scenario, confrontation between islands and the sea becomes key. There is a tension of attraction and separation that is constantly at play. It is within this tension where Aureli and Lavin should align. It’s as if Aureli is setting the stage for Lavin to act. Lavin agrees with Aureli when she explains that, “even if architecture’s cultural stasis is put at momentary risk by the potential infiltration of other agents that occurs when its bodily membranes are tested and pushed against, architecture can only become more resilient in the end” (23). That is to say in Aureli’s perfect world, as the sea confronts the island there is bound to be change. However, it seems that up until now, the islands have been eroding away rather than standing strong within the brute force of the sea. Lavin begins to set up a series of examples that aims the moment where the sea breaks to the land.

The Infraspace

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Eventually Lavin brings up what she calls her third type of kissing architecture. This type of kiss calls for a semiautonomous state where the interior and exterior of a building are now separate and the interior is not a result of the exterior but requires an intent of design of its own. This play between outside and inside is able to give a building the ability to separate it from itself, which is what Aureli is calling for. “This surface [the exterior] is not obligated to express or manage architecture’s insides and is therefore able to refocus its energies and effects centripetally to project, emanate, and exude qualities that alchemically mix with the outside” (37). At this moment, the building is both separate and yet directly tied to its outside. In Lavin’s explanation, the outside is not just a public space but also the city, its organization, its urbanization, the sea. Lavin uses Frederick Kiesler’s view of the shop window as an example of an exterior that “could produce new kinds of urban happenings that might begin or be catalyzed by the plane itself but that have their consequence elsewhere, out there” (89). It is also important to understand here that by separating the inside from the exterior, you do not run the risk of creating what Aureli refers to as an iconic building. I always found Aureli attempting to draw a very fine line between what is iconic and what is not. How does one design a building that removes itself from the surroundings but does not reach the level that deems it iconic? Where is that line drawn? I believe Lavin does a fine job at defining that line by explaining that the interior is separately designed from the exterior. Because there is both separation [inside separated from outside] and connection [exterior effecting “out there”] the building cannot be seen as iconic because the definition of iconic is something that is completely and totally removed from all external conditions.

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The Infraspace

2GBX studio example of an interior created separately from its exterior. It is the above statement where I think our current studio project lies very nicely, within this boundary of separation and connection. In many cases, including mine, the exterior and interior are separate and yet very connected. The exterior of our object takes on a very blank, convex representation, yet the inside is the exact opposite in its design. Marcelo Spina is often heard referring to out theater spaces an elephant within a snake. Even though up until now our theater designs seem to be more about technique in how we use programs, they certainly warrant discussion on what political consequences our objects have based on the separation of inside to outside. There is without a doubt a moment of kissing within our designs as explained by Lavin whether we have realized it yet or not. It will be interesting to see how these projects play out and if they take on an iconic representation or if they manage to settle themselves within the infra space of separation to itself.

Contemporary Theory 2

Austin Samson

Bibliography

Austin Samson

Contemporary Theory 2

The Infraspace

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Matter Matters A Revitalization Of Digital Craft

Figure 1: Man-O-War shows the ability to create sensate matter that is controlled by understanding the indexical properties of its geometry. Source: MurMur-LA

Due to the intense progression of digital programs within the discourse of architecture, materiality no longer needs to be seen as secondary to more conventional design priorities. If the interpretation and creation of material becomes the primary driver of design, then it is a requirement to understand a new workflow that allows for the understanding of matter in both its analogue and digital form. Here, there is a tension in the authority of the aesthetics that are a result of such a workflow. For some time now, maybe since the beginning, architecture has always seen organization as the primary controller for design. First organization, then materials. Payne and Roberge mention this in their writing Matter and Sense. Payne refers to the building materials as “matter” hoping that the term will bring along a new sense of importance to the materials used in architecture. “Matter as it is understood within the disciplines of biology and the natural sciences is relevant for architecture as well.” Payne calls for the liberation of matter in a world where it is no longer oppressed by an over expression of organization.

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Matter Matters

Payne explains the desire to move into a new model of matter first, organization second by creating three realms of thought that must co-exist: the realm of natural sciences, the realm of philosophy, and the realm of technology. Two major points are being made within these realms, the first being that organization cannot exist prior to the creation of matter, the second being “advances in the role of computation in all phases of design inevitably changes the way we conceive and construct architecture.” When working within these realms, one begins to understand the possibility for the creation of new material properties and how they can to create not only organized space, but interaction with light, touch, and any other interaction desired. Conditions of matter can now be simulated and changed though processes found within digital computation and matter becomes increasingly informed with the introduction of advanced fabrication processes that are able to provide feedback in real time.

Figure 2: The Man-O-War positions itself within the tension found between the strict catenary structure above and the uncontrolled natural curls of the material below. Source: MurMur-LA

Contemporary Theory 1

Austin Samson

This new mode of computation requires a different mindset of the designer. There comes a shift in how traditional design elements such as points, lines, and planes are understood. Traditionally, these elements are void of value. The void is then filled with information drawn from external sources such as pre-existing programmatic needs and requirements. A new understanding would show that points, lines, and planes already contain values based on material properties such as density, pull, drag, acceleration, etc. Now, points, lines, and planes are no longer just representative but are also behavioral and can be controlled by understanding their properties as quantities and qualities. Payne refers to such geometry as ‘indexical’.

Figure 3: High Understanding of uncontrollable properties allow for an ordering system based on the uncontrollable variables. Source: MurMur-LA

Austin Samson

Contemporary Theory 1

One project comes to mind when speaking about the use of indexical geometry: the Man-O-War created by Gnuform. Here, matter is the driving force to create not only an interactive but sensate experience. This installation lies within the tension of indexical geometry and matter’s ability to perform in unexpected ways. Its catenary structure allows the surface to take on any natural form through the use of weights set up within a grid mesh. This structure is what controls the hanging filaments and positions them in a controlled state. However, these filaments also have properties of their own which are equally important. The filaments are lightweight and have a natural tendency to curl and cling to one another. This removes indexical properties such as gravity from the equation and are therefore more difficult to understand and control. The ability for matter to perform in ways that are uncontrollable is not only inevitable but is often useful and can provide much potential. Here, Payne ends with saying, “discontinuities of surface, orthogonal interruptions of curves, conventional pressures on the exotic, and, most importantly, material restrictions on geometry must be handled with discipline and grace.” This discipline and grace is very important when it comes to maintaining an authority over the aesthetics that lie within what we create as designers. “With great power comes great responsibility.” It can be very easy to relinquish control over matter when our computers can do most of the work for us. This is why there is a need to return to the term Craft. Here, the term craft refers to the level of discipline and grace a designer presents within each project. Typically the higher level of craft, the more authority over a particular project is displayed. Authority is important because the moment we begin to relinquish it, the design is no longer a product of the designer but a product of the computer. In this case the designer has removed himself from the equation. They are no longer needed.

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“Craftsmanship may suggest a way of life that waned with the advent of industrial society – but this is misleading. Craftsmanship names an enduring human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake.” Ramiro Diaz-Granados begins his piece entitled Craft Works: On How to Get Medieval with the quote just mentioned. Granados takes the old school concept of craft and applies it to today’s digital world of computation. Craft begins to explain the tension between art and science. Art being explained as talent and technique and science as knowledge. “Socially, it (Craft) is an autographic endeavor, where designer and maker are on and the same person.” Digital craft has the ability to allow designers to live within the tension created by how much we choose to relinquish control over. This has a dramatic effect on the aesthetics being created. Total relinquishment of control has proven to output aesthetics that become cliché very quickly. Granados points out the use of a voronoi as an example here. Granados then breaks down this tension into three distinct but related subjects. Each subject brings fourth a moment of tension that digital craft must lie in order to be successful. The first is Autographic vs. Allographic: from Brunelleschi to Alberti. In short, one stages the pre-renaissance time of this, “this building is mine because I built it” and, “this building is mine because I designed it.” In pre-renaissance time, the allographic has become skewed as the gap between designer and builder widens. Digital craft aims at narrowing this gap by realizing the ability for designer and builder to understand the same well crafted digital model. It creates a single language that can be read by both extremes.

Figure 4: Chub, the table at Sci-Arc’s library, is a show of geometry that is both manual and automated. Source: Amorphis-LA The second subject is in line with Payne’s claim that matter should come before organization. In this case, Granados refers to Matter vs. Geometry. Up until recently, geometry has always held the upper hand. Points, lines, and planes are void and used as a tool of representation. Vectors, curves, surfaces and mass replace points, lines, and planes. These new terms respond to Payne’s description of geometry that is laden with quantifiable data that can be simulated and understood. “A return to matter through digital production is really about putting sensual (physical) intelligence on the same plateau as rational intelligence. The potential feedback loops within a matter/geometry complex requires craftsman-like dexterity with scientific precision and projection.”

Figure 5: Manual driven forms were created and then interpreted through automated contouring. Source: Amorphis-LA

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Contemporary Theory 1

Austin Samson

The third subject is Manual Operation vs. Automated Simulation. There is no doubt that scripting and parametric modeling have their place in architecture due to their productive abilities, but it is easy to let said script take control of the project in a totalizing manner. In this case details have a tendency to become over simplified. It is very important to understand when and how these scripts are being utilized by selectively choosing to use them only when needed. This is what creates the tension between manual and automated processes. Manual processes require the designer to get down and dirty with matter and geometry forcing them to fully understand the properties that are contained within. Chub is a good example of a project that lies within these moments of tension. Here we see geometry “directly and manually manipulated by operating on curve and surface components.” However, this process meant that each wedge took on insignificant changes requiring massive amounts of manual labor to produce fabrication code. Therefore, it was necessary to input specific automated techniques to help control these insignificant variables to help maintain the management of parts produced.

Fabrication and the usage of new tools is the third part to be covered when talking about digital craft. CNC machines, laser cutters, and robot arms have been used as tools for fabrication for many years, it is nothing new. What is new however is their ability to be utilized within the design process as a way of better understanding the matter that Payne refers to in the beginning of this essay. Both Payne and Granados mention feedback loops of information when talking about matter and being able to simulate it within digital computation. Payne mentions the uncontrollable characteristics of matter that are inevitable. Atwood is able to combine feedback loops with fabrication techniques in a way that allows designers to understand the inevitable uncontrollable conditions. Atwood refers to this feedback system as monolithic processes discussed in his paper Monolithic Representations.

Figure 7: By understanding different modes of fabrication, the glitch of a loop was found and re-fabricated at different levels of intensity. Source: Atwood-A

Figure 6: A fabrication process meant to understand the matter properties of resin like string as controlled changes include density and length of strand. Source: Atwood-A

Austin Samson

Contemporary Theory 1

“The studies were conducted based on a calibration of material control, fabrication precision, and process fidelity.” Atwood was able to create a process where unpredictable behaviors of matter could be constantly discovered and fed back into the design process. The unpredictable behaviors or “glitches” as they were called were then studied as a way to understand possibilities of exploitation of such moments.

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Another characteristic of matter and its digital crafting can be found within a process that is constantly moving between analogue processes and digital processes. Granados’ 2GAX class of Fall 2012 explored a series of analogue processes (hand made models and explorations of material) that were then converted to digital processes and then back again. In this case, hand made volumes were created from silhouettes cut out of different material. Seams had to be sewn together and as the material changed, so did the type of seam and shape of the volume. The reverse process was also used to create unfolded landscapes from objects covered in a resin like material.

Figure 8: Hand made objects were interpreted through digital processes as a way to understand obscure moments created through the analogue process. Source: Sci-Arc 2GAX Studio

Digital processes were used to interpret the different conditions created as a way to re-create the hand made models. What became a driving force behind the project was the decision making that had to be made when hand making the models. Imperfections arose such as seams not meeting up correctly or awkward cuts in surfaces needed to be created. These manual decisions became the backdrop to our digital explorations and re-interpretations of these objects.

Figure 11: Different modes of fabrication were used to re-output the once physical models after they had been interpreted though digital computation. Source: Sci-Arc 2GAX Studio A desire to place matter as a driving component of design, the craft used to interpret it, and the methods used to create it all fall under the realm of a new discourse in architecture where aesthetics must be a result of the designers need to be a virtuoso. The study of aesthetics is no longer what simply looks pleasing to the eye but instead it should be what can demonstrate a total understanding and control over every aspect of an idea.

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Austin Samson

Bibliography: Softspace: From a Representation of Form to a Simulation of Space, “Matter and Sense�, illustrated essay with Jason Payne, Routledge, Sean Lally and Jessica Young, editors, April 2007. Diaz-Granados, Ramiro, Craft Works: On How to Get Medieval. Atwood, Andrew. Monolithic Representations. Sennett, Richard, The Craftsman. Yale University Press, 2008

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Contemporary Theory 1

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B r i n g i n g I t F u ll Cirr c l e

D u e t o t h e A v a n t -GG a r d e a p p r o a c h too d igg i t a l d e s i g n a t S C I -AA rcc , t h e s c hoo o l a n d m o s t o f i t s s t u d e n t s h a v e m a dee t h e c o n s c ioo u s d e c iss i o n t o i g n orr e thh e m o r e c o n v e ntt i o naa l ress p o n s i b i l i t iee s thh a t a r c h i t e c t s shh o u l d s t i l l c a r r y w ith thh e m i n f a v o r f or ree s e a r c h inn g m o r e f a v o r a b l e “ t h e o r e t i c a l”” d iscc o urr s e s. C o n v e ntt i o naa l ree s p o n s ibb i l itt i e s m a y inn c l u d e a w o r k i n g b uildinn g enn v e l o p e , a t e c h n i c all u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f h o w c o m p o n e n tss c om m e t o g ett h e r, o r m a t e r i a l itt y a n d howw i t a f f e c t s c o n t e x t. T h i s i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y a p r o b l e m a s i t a l l oww s t h e frr e e d o m t o p r o d u c e t h i ngg s t h a t a r e b e y ond t h e u ndd e r s t a n d i n g o f a c onn venn t i o n a l a r c h i t e c t w h ichh wii l l a l l oww foo r prr o g ree s s . H o w e v e r, a p r ojj e c t t h att u t i l izz e s t h e n eww d igg i t all t e c h n i q u e s i n a w ay thh a t b r i n g s a p r o j e c t a r ouu n d f u l l c ircle s h o u l d bee t h e n exx t stt e p. H e r naa n D i a z A l o n s o ’ss s t u d i o w o rkk i s a g r eaa t p l a c e t o s t a r t b e c a u s e itt see t s i t s e lff u p p e r f e c t l y too b e ree s o l v e d i n t h iss m a nnn e r. L o okk i n g b a c k a t t h e s t u d e n t w o r k t h a t i s p r o d u c e d h e r e , o n e w i l l f i n d t h a t n ott a s i n g l e p r o j e c t p r o p e r l y d e a lss w i t h b u i l d i n g e n v e l o p e s , t e x t u r i n g , f a b rii c a t i o n , o r s i t e c o n t e x t . T h i s i s duu e t o t h e f acc t thh a t t h e y h a v e b e e n left b e hii n d t o faa v o r t h e m orr e u n c o n v e n t i o n a l m o d e l i n g t e c h n i q u e s t h a t p roo d ucc e thh e p r o j ecc t s t hat t h e s t u d i o i s knoww n f o r. I find itt t hee n very interesting t o see e w h a t w o ull d h a p p e n i f t hee s e t e c h n i q u e s w e ree f o r c e d t o d e a l w i t h t he moo r e conventionaa l ree s p onsibii l itii e s o f thh e a r c h itt e c t w h icc h h a s t h e p r o m i s e t o p r o duu c e a nee w A r c h i t e ctt u r all C raa f t that h a s yet to be s e e n .


Austin Samson // SCI Arc Portfolio // 2013