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Journal Entry 01 The task of creating the tallest possible tower with the given wooden blocks was an enjoyable and unexpectedly thought provoking activity. The concrete floor of the studio served as the perfect foundation for our structure; being both strong and levelled. Therefore our initial impasse became deciding upon the shape of the building. For no particular reason, we opted for a square, with each team member working on one side. Though this approach proved to promote positive upward growth, the structure became prone to swaying at even low heights. Thus we were compelled to reconsider our approach. By observing other groups, we decided to adopt a popular brick masonry arrangement. This technique proved to be tedious, time consuming and gradual in height increment. To counter this effect, we drastically reduced the base area of our structure in contrast to other groups. Therefore fewer bricks would be required to increase height, and we would gain height more rapidly. By arranging bricks face down on the largest surface area, we were able to rapidly place bricks and not be meticulously framing each level as the loss of support from minute overhang was nullified. Our initial approach did not have this ability with the minimal surface area of upward placed bricks. Due to time constraints, constructing had to be conducted with much haste which resulted in gradual and involuntary modification of shape. The first was the shift from a square shape to one which gradually rounded. Seeing this as a negative sign, we decided rotate team members around the structure, so each was working on a different face. Despite this methodology, the structure became more circular as height increased. Having developed significant height, it was decided to maintain and continue with the circular shape. By maintaining a circular shape, there would be no corners which are susceptible to crumbling, especially in taller regions with less compression holding them in place. The second unconscious shift in shape was the gradual narrowing of the tower. If this trend continued, with enough blocks and time, a pinnacle could have eventuated as the circumference of each layer gradually decreased.

On the final leg of construction, we opted to compromise stability for rapid height gain by completely altering our construction method. Instead we returned to an improvised version of our first approach with the vertically upright blocks. This method proved precarious with evident swaying. This method also decreased stability as the effects of variances in the length of blocks were heightened. The image on the left depicts the sensitivity of variances in the height of blocks. The vertically arranged block on the left was slightly longer than the one beside. This resulted in the unevenness of the horizontally placed block above, which would consequently destabilise the above level. The goal of this task; to observe compression, became most profound during the systematic dismantling of structures. When pushing holes in the base of the structure, the extent of compression became evident. It took noticeable effort to push block out of the structure. The dispersion and channelling of loads also became apparent when these holes were made bigger. The structure remains stable despite the removal of these blocks as the loads above the arch do not separate block holding them up, unlike a flat span. The vertical loads are pushing out diagonally and channelled to the ground. By removing blocks in this pattern on other sides of the structure would increase efficiency and reduce the overall weight.


Compression Practical Task

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