Make Architecture



Assignment 2 – Laser Cutter

This week, for the laser cutter assignment, I wanted to create a system of press fit joining that was different from the usual zig-zagged side approach. I decided upon making a picture frame that used pegs notched a little bit less than the nominal thickness of the material, then pinned to keep pressure on the back of the frame. I thought this was a little too simple, so I decided to make it into a frame-sided box, sketched below. The box edges are also different from typical, using a pin to keep the sides tight, however it would require significant flexibility in the material to construct.

I decided to use masonite because I had some left over from a prior project and it would be much sturdier than cardboard. The masonite had a nominal thickness of 3/16, and after checking a piece with a caliper, found that it was .175 inches, which is what I designed for. The cutsheet is represented below without any decorative score lines – which I added in the DWG.

After cutting, everything assembled perfectly. The masonite was less flexible than I expected, so getting all 4 corners to snap together was more difficult than I expected and resulted in a few frayed corners. The biggest issue was that the masonite was thinner than I designed for (the piece I measured must not have been characteristic of the whole batch) – so the picture frames don’t work as well because there isn’t as much pressure from the peg. However, the weight of the masonite works well enough to hold the pictures in.

One way to improve and make the frames more professional and work better would be to use a bit of glue (which was outlawed in this assignment) and fix the outer picture holder part of the backing to the front frame, and then replace the inner part with acrylic that is the same thickness and use it as you would use glass in a real picture frame. This would keep the picture from slipping as much and also make it much easier to swap them.


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Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


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