Make Architecture



2. Lasercutter: Rise/Set Window Blinds

Especially at this point in February, I enjoy knowing that we’ve gotten through the worst of the winter darkness and the sun is spending increasingly more time with us everyday.  To keep this optimistic thought swirling in my head, I decided to create some window blinds that tell me when I can expect the sun to rise and set.

I first experimented with a 1/16″ chipboard version, which included rasterized text (which took about 45 min to cut), and slats in which to insert / press-fit a skeletal backbone.

I did not fully think through how the slats would work…and that resulted in a sort of make-shift accordion system with another stray piece of 1/32″ chipboard.

My second version was made out of canvas, and this time I learned from my earlier time-sink — and traced the outlines of all the letters in Rhino to eliminate any rasterization.

As for the lengthening/shortening mechanisms, I lasercut long thin pieces of material to fit inside plexi squares. The plexi strips were too skinny and bendy (.125 x .12 inches) and the squares fell right off, but the masonite strips were much hardier and fit better in the squares (.125 x .13 inches).

Improvements to be made:

– start with the winter months at the top, so that the blinds can fold all the way up during that time and let as much sun as possible

– better-align and better-fit the opening slots in the chipboard model, then create a joint (rectangular wedge/peg?) that can secure at different amounts of window shade openness


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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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