Make Architecture



07 – Formwork: Integrated shading

The aim of this project was  the conceptualization, design and fabrication of adjustable formwork. A secondary aspect of this project was to move away from simple material experiments in order to come up with a project with potential for application within the built environment. With this in mind, the project was the design of flexible formwork for casting a solar shading device for windows.

While existing methods of shading are sufficient to address issues of solar heat gain, the actual devices leaves much to be desired when it comes to issues of tectonics and architectural interest.

The possibilities of utilizing the potential of parametric design through analog methods were investigated through this project.

In order to sufficiently shade a window, a horizontal overhang and vertical extension are required in certain cases.

Diagrams from Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Methods for Architects (Hardcover) by Norbert Lechner

The necessary overhangs are typically achieved with the application of secondary shading devices leading to a differentiation between shading device and wall structure. This situation can be improved by physically and conceptually integrating the shading devices into the actual wall. Depending on the specific requirements for every window, the integrated shading device can be adjusted accordingly.

In this project a wall was conceived as a grid of circular pixels. After the window opening is defined each pixel adjacent to the window is adjusted. Adjustment of each pixel can be achieved by varying the length each pixel protrudes from the wall.

In practical term this was achieved by constructing a device with adjustable screws, each pushing a wooden dowel into the desired position.

The wooden dowels creates a bed on which a silicone rubber mold can be made. The mold allows for the casting of concrete units which can shade the various windows on each facade by integrating into the facade.

To repeat this project you will need:

  • 1  x  sheet of 3mm [1/8″] acrylic sheet [370mm x 80mm]
  • 1 x Universal laser cutter
  • DWG file with design (below)
  • Wood dowels
  • 50 1/8″ screws and nuts
  • Silicon rubber (Smooth-On OOMOO-30)
  • Rockite
  • 8-10 hours

Firstly the 5 layers for housing the adjustment screws, nuts, dowels and casting surface were cut on the universal laser cutter.

Secondly a casting profile was created based on the required shading profile.

Thirdly, apply the silicon rubber to create a mold from the casting surface. For this project a OOMOO silicon rubber was used but due to a overnight demolding time combined with a rupture in the original formwork the first mold did not succeed but instead bonded with the wooden dowels. After removind much of the rubber, OOMOO-30 was used and worked well. The casting bed of the device was however still covered with the first layer of rubber and subsequently made operating the device more difficult. This was however very useful as an experiment to test the concept.

After removing the silicon rubber mold, rockite was used as casting medium and after 30 minutes could be removed. Dowels were inserted into the mold holes where the window will be inserted.


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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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