Make Architecture



2 Pressfit cardboard

The object of this exercise is to re-create the Chrysler Building Hat worn by William Van Alen at the 1931 Beaux Arts Ball in New York. The material to be used is 1/8″ corrugated cardboard.

I began by modeling the Chrysler Building spire in Rhino.  The stepped (horizontal) surfaces between the main volumes feature double-curvature, which would prove problematic in the subsequent flattening of the surfaces to be lasercut. In order to flatten the surfaces with complex curvature, I used the “smash” command in Rhino (the “unroll” command only works for surfaces curving in one direction). This had the unintended result of distorting the surface sizes, rendering many of them unusable when trying to build the hat.

A screen shot depicting the horizontal surfaces between main volumes. Many of these could not be translated accurately back into a two-dimensional environment.

The bottom units were able to be placed together.

Note the distortion in the horizontal piece – the notches no longer align.

Detail of horizontal piece. Note distortion of shape in the rounded-off corners and edges.

The cardboard bends easily perpendicular to the corrugation. Parallel to the corrugation, the cardboard resists bending. A more thoughtful material analysis would have anticipated this condition, resulting in a model featuring only single curvature. This would have reduced modeling time and resulted in a virtual model much more easily accurately translatable into a cut file.


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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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