Page 1

Student Journal Paulina Pytka

Student No. 637869

Material Systems Panel and Fold Of the four material systems examined during this module, including skin and bone, profile and section, panel and fold, and inflatable, the panel and fold system is characterised by simple, geometric repetition of minor components to create a major object.



Figure 1. Plan

Figure 2. Elevation

Figure 3. Section

The artichoke is a prime example of a naturally occurring panel and fold system. It embodies the economic use of materials through the overlapping with which each leaf element is aligned to the next. In order to achieve this tightening affect around the heart of the plant, as illustrated in figure one, the leaves adopt a concave shape.

The elevation, figure two, shows the way in which the panelling pattern of the artichoke ensures all gaps are covered through alternation of leaf sizes.

Figure three reveals that the greater the panel distance from the core, the more developed in size and texture it is. Moving inwards, it can be seen that younger leaves are softer and thus, more flexible allowing them to adopt a bent ‘s’ shape observed from the side. Hence, the coarser outer leaves exhibit a central split to obtain

From the insight provided by Miralles and Pinos in “How to lay out a croissant”, it was possible to identify a horizontal axis of symmetry as well as two proportional triangles in the approximate ratio of 2:3 on either side of the diamond shaped leaves.

Artichoke Reconfiguration

Digital Model A. Peeling the artichoke

Measuring Space

D. Resulting spiral allows for building on layers

E. Curving form of leaf panels allows to maintain a circular shape as observed originally in the artichoke

F. Differently sized panels give way to a tapering effect on the form

G. The stem is held in place by the smallest leaves at the top

H. That which was observed through the cross section is translated to the exterior of the object as a result

The plan and elevation of a digital artichoke model was obtained by drawing four different leaf shapes and positioning them around a sphere using the gumball tool in Rhino. As discussed in the Designing Ideas lecture, there is a significant difference in digital modelling from the use of NURBS as opposed to polylines. Essentially, NURBS modelling employs a series of control points that allow for much smoother approximation of a curve than a polyline would. Thus rather than creating a polygon, a true sphere can be achieved. This feature of Rhino enabled me to approximate the true form of an artichoke leaf.

Figure 1. Initial selection of vulnerable areas

Figure one depicts the initial concept of personal space developed. The shaded regions show the areas of greatest discomfort towards interaction with strangers. For a right-handed individual, the left hand would act as more of a dead limb and thus, require more protection.

Figure 2. Study of vulnerable body parts

Figure two illustrates an investigation into the most vulnerable parts of the human body. Theses include the brain, heart and Achilles heel.

Figure 1. Sketch design one

Figure 2. Sketch design two

The second design embraces the effects of panelling tools, showcasing a geometric pattern across a rigid form. The rigidity of the bodice mimics that of an individual who “freezes” in an uncomfortable situation.

Personal Space

B. Single file overlapping as opposed to the gap-filling alternation observed originally in the artichoke

C. Use of pins to secure form though as younger leaves are introduced, their sticky texture allows for their occasional omission

The first design is composed of seven leaf-like curving elements that encase the torso. The panels centre around the heart and eyes as to highlight the human qualities of the individual trying to secure their personal space.

Figure 3. Final choice of areas to be covered by second skin

Figure three shows the areas chosen to be protected by the second skin. They are all above the hips as it is believed that taller people are more threatening. Furthermore, if the design secures a sufficient amount of volume, access to lower areas would be complicated.

From the reading “Personal Space” by Sommers the following points were drawn. Firstly, people attempt to mark their personal space with belongings which is consistent with the purpose of the second skin. Similarly, a psychological study showed that the very realization of another beings presence, through a manifestation of their human qualities, is enough tho ward off an oncoming threat. This was achieved through direct eye contact. In terms of tolerance to the invasion of personal space, people are only comfortable when they expect the event. For example, crowding on public transport. Accordingly, the areas concluded to be the most immune to the discomfort of having ones personal space included the sides as well as the back.

The third design explores the use of folding to create volume as well as adding quality of movement to the second skin. Figure 3. Sketch design three

Integrating Structural Systems Inflatable/Panel and Fold

Skin and Bone/Panel and Fold


This design consists of panels that wrap around the body and tighten upon inflation to mimic the artichoke. The inflatable system improves the portability of the second skin by creating a large volume from little material upon demand. This is particularly relevant to the “portable territory� aspect of personal space.

Similarly, this design involves collapsible panels that can be adjusted to cover the most vulnerable part of the body as determined by the context. This makes the second skin more adaptable, as the panel and fold system can come across as very rigid on its own.

Precedent Study

Perfect Fragility

Thomas Heatherwick

Maurice Velasquez Posadas’ Geomorfos

The “Seed Cathedral” was designed by Thomas Heatherwick for the Shanghai World Expo with the intention that the architecture of the pavilion would be directly related to that which it was exhibiting. Hence, it is composed of 60,000 thin, transparent, fibre optic rods, each encasing at tip at their end. The collective effect of these delicate elements creates a fragile, cloud like form. In the context of the second skin project, the unique texture of “Seed Cathedral” can be seen as resulting from the use of long thin panels. From this, a decision was made to work with a vast amount of tube shaped panels. Reviewing Thomas Heatherwick’s design, it was concluded that transparency brought a sense of weightlessness to an object, thus the hollow part of a pipe was thought to introduce the element of air which translates both visually and literally into lightness. A final consideration inspired by this design was whether or no the panels should be tapered. Essentially, a thinner base would allow for a voluminous, spreading effect as the panelled second skin extended away from the individual.

Panel Formation Maurice Velasquez Posadas’ Geomorfos builds on assumption that personal space is fragile and easily intruded upon. Each design uses different shapes to mimic different motions. The points tend to be associated with stasis while the waves create a sense of fluidity.

The pipe-panel design allowed us to thing about the collective effect of panels however, Velasqualez work made us want to create a more complex shape that employed folding techniques such as those in origami. It is believed that this degree of complexity is related to how fragile something might appear.

His use of origami techniques takes a very delicate material and makes it quite rigid without losing its integrity. Two materials were tried for the pipe-like, panel forms. The first was paper. It was effective in the way that it would be manipulated through rolling into the desired size. Furthermore, the white colour option instigated a sense of purity. This seemed more successful in defining the shape of the panel than the second material which was plastic. Such panels were obtained from straws and proved difficult to assemble into groups.

Pratt + Paper and Ralph Pucci’s paper fashion was particularly insightful to the way that pipes can be arranged. This irregular orientation resonated with the Seed Cathedral in the way that all the elements seemed to protrude away from the body in a very organic matter while creating a very interesting tactile quality.

This inspired a design that is so neat and perfect that is appears fragile. Hence, it would echo human vulnerability and caution any potential threats to personal space with a fear that they may damage something beautiful.

The above nets show a series of folding methods trialed in effort to obtain prism shaped panels with sharp edges that emphasis the qualities of paper.

Design Effects

Personal Space



As discussed in the Design Effects lecture, a differentiated effect involves a small change, usually to the proportions of an element of a pattern. Accordingly, a series of differently sized, though similar objects, is obtained and adds a sense of movement to a composition when one is viewing the rises and falls of elements over the distance covered by the pattern. This was applied to our second skin design by altering the sizes of our panels. However, our choice to use small, medium and large panels was not only for the purpose of adding fluidity to a relatively rigid structure, but also to protect particularly vulnerable areas of the human body. For example, the largest panels extend the furthest away from the body and thus, secure more volume of personal space in areas such as the heart, back and head. Smaller panels have been used around the neck and arms as to cause minimal interference with the individual’s movement. Finally, the medium sized panels aid in creating a visual gradient from large to small panels.

The idea of “the very many” is also a powerful effect. Firstly, high numbers of elements in a repetitive sequency create a sense of unity within a design. They can also evoke a sense of intimidation as in the example of many chairs filling a space in “Space is the Place” by Doris Salcedo. However, the Geomorfos example remains the most relevant to this second skin design. It uses multiplicity to create volume. It is believed that the use of many panels across our design gives it a sense of completeness which corresponds to our vision of perfection, such that if the personal space enclosed by this design is disrupted, one panel may fall out and ruin the entity.

Lecture: Oxford student accommodation design

In this week’s lecture, Prof. Paul Loh spoke about a project he worked on in London with MJP architects. In describing the design process of Kendrew Quadrangle, he focused on the importance of prototyping. Essentially, a prototype differs from a model in the way that it allows for testing the design as well as the materials from which it is to be constructed. In most projects, prototyping occurs at a variety of scales. Initially, it may be modelled at 1:100 to allow experimentation with the form of the building early in the design process. Later on, more finalised designs can be created as large as 1:33 as in the example of Jean Nouvel and his Louvre design in Abu Dhabi to assist in visually communicating his vision to the client. In Prof. Paul Loh’s case, it was necessary to construct a 1:1 prototype so that the effectiveness of joints between the student rooms could be assessed as well as the durability of the wooden cladding on the exterior under wet conditions. In this way, Prof. Loh illustrated how the prototyping stage is essential to the success of any model and it is particularly important to accept the failures that will inevitably occur on first attempt.

TED talk: Thomas Heatherwick

Movement and Territory Reviewing our second skin design against our idea of personal space compelled us to adopt the view that it is a portable territory. In terms of movement and comfort associated with this, it was concluded that the second skin should be rigid as to mimic the way in which one behaves when wearing something precious. Essentially, their posture is very upright and in effect champions superiority.

Sight and Sound

Method of arranging panels according to size on front and back

Response to Lecture and Assigned Readings

The face has been left unobstructed by the panels as to allow the individual to perceive an approaching threat. However, the ears have been somewhat sheltered by the hood as to mute out the sounds associated with the context of a crowded place where ones personal space is likely to be threatened.

Thomas Heatherwick’s work sheds light on the materiality of architecture. In his presentation, Heatherwick shares his very individual approach to existing designs, such as that of opening bridges, by associating them with personal experience, such as that of an athlete breaking his leg. In this way, he offers a particular point of view from which he is able to challenge the way bridges can operate. Similarly, he encapsulates the upside-down concept of reversing one’s ideas in his Seed Cathedral, reflecting on the underappreciating of a seed in inspiring architecture as a tree of leaf does. Accordingly, he is able to create a grand gesture of very small elements without detracting from their individual value. Each seed encased in plays an important role in the composition in such a way as its absence, as in the “shaved” entrance, marks a powerful feature of the building.

Reading: Lost in Parameter Space

In Lost in Parameter Space, Scheurer details the progression of three-dimensional modelling technologies from computer-aided design (CAD) to computer-aided engineering (CAE). His message however, does not commend the movement away from two-dimensional modes of representation as much as it highlights the room for error in such up and coming technologies that heavily rely on approximation. Most importantly, he shows that such programs are based on complex algorithms that are ultimately controlled by human minds and require careful consideration, which is the key to architecture, as opposed to leaving everything up to a machine to finalize.

Panel Arrangement Digital Modelling


The triangular shape at the base of the panels allowed for a regular, star-like arrangement of them. Furthermore, their folded paper nature meant that a securing system could be developed by cutting along their edges to allow the separated parts to fold under their mounting piece once they had slid through the designated whole cut in it.

Ultimately, the desired panel arrangement was achieved by manually rotating and positioning the panels on a solid, mounting piece design which provided some insight into the way the second skin would be assembled in reality.

With this complex, panel design and subsequently unique arrangement, panelling tools could not be used in Rhino. This command only enabled a regular, repetitive arrangement without rotation of the individual panels relative to one another.

Final Rhino model of second skin, composed of panels manipulated with the gumball compand and set on a solid surface built on a 123d Catch model.


Fabrication Process

Design Decisions

Step 1.

The choice of material and fabrication process for the body of our second skin was governed by the need for something that could mould to the model’s figure. It was believed that a tight fitting, custom made mounting piece echoed the very notion underlying a second skin that protected personal space. In this way, the second skin is meant for the single person for which it was created and produces an emotive response of comfort being only theirs. The areas of the body covered by this body piece are believed to be the most economical in the sense that by covering the head and top portion of the torso, the security of personal space below is implied. This top portion of the human body is most animate as well as most visible to an oncoming thereat so logically, it is the best place to place a fragile object that one should tread around with caution.

Calculate, draw, trace and cut out layout pattern of panels to use as a stencil

Step 2.

Wrap model in packing tape to create a personalised form

Step 3. The flexibility of chicken wire demonstrated by this sculptures was promising in creating a free form mounting piece for the body however, the toughness associated with metal diminished the delicacy and subtlety toward which this design strived toward. A prototype of panels set in chicken wire using an alternate securing technique. However, the inability to fold the bottoms over resulted in a less stable outcome.

The reason why a packing tape sculpture was selected was primarily due to its ability to recreate the exact curvature of the human body. Accordingly, wrapping it around the model, to create multiple layers, produced a thick form into which holes could be cut for the securing of panels. Other benefits included the transparency of this material and subsequently, its minimal visual impact that appeared light weight in consistence with our vision of perfect fragility as well as the fact that it did not distract from the intricate panels which are the focal point of our second skin design.

Assemble panels from FabLab cutouts

Step 4.

Use stencil to mark out layout pattern on tape sculptured base. Cut holes where panels are to be inserted. Insert panels and fold the bottom of each panel on the inside of the tape sculpture for stability.

Step 5.

Spray paint the design white to unify the panels with the underlying mounting piece and enhance the sense of perfection.

Response to Assigned Readings Architecture in the Digital Age - Design and Manufacturing by Branko Kolarevic The main forms of digital production discussed by Kolarevic include three-dimensional scanning, digital fabrication, two-dimensional fabrication, subtractive fabrication, additive fabrication and formative fabrication. Three dimensional scanning is the inverse of computer aided manufacturing. Essentially, a physical model is scanned to create a “point cloud” which then enables its translation into a digital model. Digital fabrication on its own corresponds to the capabilities of the manufacturing equipment. This means that designers are able to work more closely with the technologies that bring their designs to life. Two-dimensional fabrication, by contrast to three-dimensional fabrication, involves two-axis motion cutting such as that of laser cutters and water jets. Their major limitations concern the thickness of materials that they can cut through. Subtractive fabrication employs three-axis motion cutting to shape a solid piece of material into the desired form by a means of removing volume. Additive fabrication is the opposite. It involves incremental assembly of the layers that constitute the design. Finally, formative fabrication focuses on the concept of deformation whereby a shape can be transformed through the application of heat or steam to its material. The outcome is usually of a bent nature, exploiting the elasticity of a given material. The digital fabrication technique selected for my group’s design was two-dimensional as well as additive. In the fabrication of the panels, their underlying panel and fold concept meant that we wanted their three dimensional quality to emerge from manual folding techniques much like that in origami. Subsequently, the laser cutter was used only to ensure that each panel was identical so that a perfectly neat outcome could be achieved. Contrastingly, the way that the mounting piece was made could be described as being additively fabricated seeing as it involved wrapping the model in multiple layers of tape until a relatively thick and rigid form resulted.

Digital fabrications: architectural and material techniques by Lisa Iwamoto Modelling three-dimensional forms digitally involves the use of NURBS and meshes. The use of NURBS has particularly revolutionised the degree of curvature that can be obtained within a design. Prior to their introduction, designers relied on meshes to approximate curving surfaces using geometric shapes. Essentially, the result was not necessarily perfectly smooth, however, this was controlled by the resolution of the tessellation. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes illustrate the effectiveness of triangular shapes in approximating curvature. This inspired my group’s exploration of triangular based panels. Ultimately, it was discovered that a “Y” shape resembling the intersecting point of three triangles was most effective for creating a pattern that could mould to the contours of the human body and thus, allow our panels to be precisely arranged.


Response to Assigned Readings


The Third Industrial Revolution The previous industrial revolution thrived on the scarcity of its driving force. Fossil fuels were described as “elite energies” and required adequate management for their distribution around this world. It is believed that this gave way to the pyramidal social structure that still resonates with today’s economics and politics. The centralized top-down management style, manifested in the railway sector, dictated the type of employee one should be. Hence this influenced the development of public education and the way in which students adopted a submissive role to the superior teacher whose authority could not be questioned. This is one of the first areas in which the beginnings of the third industrial revolution can be seen. People are shifting towards a more collaborative system where employees and students work interdiscplinarily. In the subject of virtual environments, teamwork played a crucial role in a number of tasks. Perhaps creativity benefits from a number of inputs to find an optimum solution. Moreover, the filtering for one, most suitable product, as opposed to a collection of inferior ones, may be hinting at a move away from consumerism and sustainability instead. Accordingly, this collaborative economy concept has given rise to networks over which intelligence can be shared. However, this not only has positive implications for businesses wanting to work together, but also for buyers communicating directly with their sellers. Perhaps such strengthening of relationships across the economy will extend to design, steering designers towards creating environments that are better at meeting the needs of their inhabitants. A key claim made by Rifkin, is that the third industrial revolution will emerge from the desire to be the supplier of one’s own energy, resulting in a multitude of small power plants on the domestic scale as opposed to elite ones. This is similar to the development of car ownership from railways, and subsequently shows the human desire for the distribution of power, literally, politically and economically. Computer owners are part of a greater network, the Internet, and this is what the idea of sustainable living is striving toward. The role of digital design is to make that possible by utilizing an array of communications as to ensure the input of everyone, not just the authority.

Imagining Risk The earliest notions of craft have focused on the labour intensive side of fabrication in which one applied their skills in making to a particular material. David Pye saw this traditional form of workmanship as the epitome of creativity, as the unpredictable human hand, paired with the mind, which is capable of imagining alternative outcomes, dealt with risk. Contrastingly, industrialization was associated with the “workmanship of certainty”. Over time, as our society has become increasingly technology orientated, craft has developed to bridge the gap between design and production recognized during the industrial revolution. This has been made possible by computer numeric control, which has added substance to what would have otherwise been described as an abstract form of representation by embedding it with information. In this way, designers have been brought closer to the fabrication aspect of a product, being able to assess materials and consider how they will be realized. In the context of the second skin project, the contemporary view of craft has been evident in the use of Rhino digital modelling software, as it has guided particular design decisions particularly those regarding size. The CNC aspect of this program meant that the 123d Catch model could be scaled to real life size and the panel components of our design could be manipulated in reference to it. However, it is believed that the true concept of craft came in at the instances where we trialed panels manually, cutting and folding with our own hands, and then translating that into digital information, which was altered in another way to suite the fabrication technique from which we were to obtain another physical prototype which would again be trialed in our hands. This “back and forth” movement between design and production occurs in the gap where craft essentially occurs. Another way in which we, as the designers, followed through our ideation process into production can be seen in the arrangement of panels on our mounting piece. By trialling the technique in which they were to be position using the gumball tool in Rhino, we had adequate insight into how we were going to make incisions and slide each panel into its corresponding location on the body form. The fact that we were still able to problem solve on the spot, regarding the stability of paper panels secured within a layered plastic tape solid, shows that although technology provided us with some guidance in the fabrication process, the risk of the manual component remained to extend the creative process outside the “predictability” discussed by Pye.

The final image of the design outcome comprises of a vest-like mounting piece, covered in panels whose form is believed to dissipate into space. The light refracting off of these further accentuates this effect which also applies to the hand held piece which can be used to cove the face.

The second skin design project commenced with the analysis of a material system. The panel and fold material system was depicted by an artichoke, whose geometries revealed a pattern in which leaves were tightly overlapped to enclose the heart of the plant. Drawing on this inspiration, a sketch design emerged in which a series of organic shaped panels extended from the back of the human body, extending over the shoulders and around the torso to protrude away from the front. In this way, it was believed that the heart of the individual was being highlighted and subsequently, cautioning potential threats to the personal space surrounding it. However, this notion of frightening intruders away was challenged by an upside down bottom up approach in which I was compelled to consider an alternative way to secure personal space. Maurice Velasquez Posadas Geomorfos served as inspiration in this, when his origami fashion instigated a sense of worry that these could be damaged. Accordingly, I started to envision something that was so perfect that people stayed away from it for fear of damaging it, as opposed to creating a threatening design that made others weary of their own safety. Once the desired emotive response was set for the second skin design, a series of effects were trialled in effort to intensify this. Firstly, a lightweight material was necessary, one that resonated with fragility and to an extent, impermanence. Paper card was most effective at meeting these criteria. A number of colours were examined, including black, white and red. Essentially, white proved to be the most effective at encapsulating the “wedding dress effect” further associated with purity worthy of admiration from afar. Bursts of red near areas of greatest vulnerability, such as the heart, were considered as to forebode the likely outcome of invading the subject’s personal space. However, this seemed to take away from the perfect fragility envisioned for this project, appearing as though the piece had already been soiled and hence making it less important in terms of whether it is damaged any further. The design of the panels, of which this second skin was to be constituted, started out as very simple. A slightly tapered, hollow pipe was believed to successfully protrude away from the body and create a volume to represent one’s personal space. Yet the method by which such panels would be fabricated was very labour intensive, which led to the utilisation of digital fabrication processes. The laser cutter seemed the most appropriate tool and by learning about its precision orientated qualities, the panel design was developed to contain cut out patterns. This had a similar effect to the hollowness in the pipes, where the element of air made everything seem lighter and in turn, more delicate. A final alteration to the panel design was the introduction of curving, frilled edges, which gave a stronger resonance with the “wedding dress effect”, discussed earlier. The assembly aspect of the fabrication process was greatly assisted by the folding tabs at the bottom of each panel. This did however complicate the search for a mounting piece material that needed to conform to the shape of the human body but remain rigid. Ultimately, a technique, which involved layering tape onto the model, was employed to obtain the form of the second skin. This did however affect the design aesthetic as the model had to be cut out of the finished tape structure, which meant that it had to become a type of vest. Though the advantage of slitting panels into this form with minimal use of an adhesive gave the design a seamlessness that overrode this, which could be described as a sacrificial decision. Furthermore, a smaller scale, panelled ball, was made to close this gap for the presentation. Aside from the laser cutter burn marks that required a coat of white spray paint; the final outcome met all expectations. Although the underlying mounting piece was meant to be transparent, the white paint unexpectedly improved the transition from the base to the tip of each panel, and thus, improving the dispersive effect of the design’s volume into space.

References Ajurette Magablog 2010, Blogspot, N/A viewed 29 August 2013, < html> BEDA 2013, N/A, N/A viewed 15 September 2013, <>. Heatherwick, T (March 2011) Thomas Heatherwick: Building the Seed Cathedral [Video file] retrieved from html H.Pottmann, A.Asperl, M.Hofer, A.Kilian (eds) 2007 “Surfaces that can be built from paper” in Architectural Geometry, Bentley Institute Press, pp. 534-561 Insirational Green 2011, N/A, N/A viewed 15 September 2013, <>. Iwamoto, L 2009, Digital fabrications: architectural and material techniques, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, Selected Extracts Kolarevic, B, 2003 “Digital Production” in Architecture in the Digital Age - Design and Manufacturing , Spon Press, London, pp. 30-54 Marble, S 2008 ‘Imagining Risk’ In P Bernstein, P Deamer (eds). Building the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture/, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, pp. 38-42 Miralles, E, Pinos, C “How to lay out a croissant”, El Croquis, 49/50, pp. 240-241 Ralph Pucci 2010, Ralph Pucci International, N/A viewed 29 August 2013, <>. Rifkin, J 2011 “Distributed Capitalism’ in The third Industrial Revolution Palgrave Macmillan, New York pp. 107-126 Sommer, R 1969, ‘ Spatial invasion’ in Sommer, R, Personal space : the behavioral basis of design, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J, pp. 26-38


Virtual Environments

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you