Plastic Effects by Rachel Adams
While advances in digital technology have made many designs look sleeker, there is a continued desire to move “off the screen.” With this in mind, the marriage of materials with production has come to the forefront of design. For many architects, including Austin-based Igor Siddiqui, materials are capable of great transformation and should be considered early in the stages of the design process. Siddiqui, an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and principal of ISSSStudio, is drawn to specific materials, such as rubber and bioplastics, that are flexible, pliable, and allow themselves to be transformed through experimentation. Siddiqui’s studio and his teaching philosophy exemplify the melding of digital design with the do-it-yourself and open-source culture of physically making the materials. Siddiqui, in collaboration with Matt Hutchinson from the San Franciscobased firm PATH, installed “Bayou-luminescence” at the end of a residential alley in New In December of 2011,
76 Texas Architect
Orleans. One of the winning entries from an international competition sponsored by AIA New Orleans, “Bayou-luminescence” was cast from a translucent industrial urethane rubber, creating a synthetic skin that was stretched over a curved steel framing system. Lit from within, the geometric-patterned skin referenced the many surfaces found throughout the New Orleans region. The two conjoined, self-supporting volumes created distinct spaces: a social space around the outside of the structure and a meditative space inside the larger cone. Structurally, the work utilized the tension between the elastic rubber surface and the metal frame. The rubber cladding was cast from custom CNC-routed formwork with a shallow relief, and each of the 12 panels had its own unique mold, with the edges consisting of eyelets and tabs that attach to the frame and keep the tension. With halogen lighting strategically placed to illuminate the structure and its surroundings, the translucent rubber was aglow — a beacon encouraging viewers to approach.