Make Architecture



3. Waterjet: school lunch cutlery

When I was a freshman at MIT, I would always end up wandering around in between classes looking for places to eat lunch because I never knew where to go.  I ‘discovered’ cafe 4 sometime mid-October, steam cafe sometime in December, and I discovered all of the different food truck locations only last year.

To prevent this from happening to other wide-eyed first year students, I wanted to make a map of all lunch places on MIT’s campus, combined with a set of reusable lunch silverware that one could bring around everyday.

I decided to map out all of the places that one can lunch on campus with little boxes: the student center, the falafel food truck outside lobby 7, steam cafe, cafe fresca on mass ave, cafe 4, stata center, kendall food court, and clover/thai food trucks by sloan.

After drawing out my cutlery and inscribing the (fortunately carrot-shaped) campus map in both the handle piece + the head piece, I was ready to waterjet this party. To my chagrin, Nick and I realized that the design would probably be a little too detailed for the waterjet to handle.  Even with unifying the map onto just the handle portion, as you can see in the following photos, it was difficult for the waterjet to cut those lines as finely as a lasercutter could, and whole portions of the middle fell out.

After realizing that many of my aluminum pieces did not fit together, I decided to make this a hybridized project by fitting the unsuccessful ones with plexi parts. This time, the lasercutter was merciful to the details of the map, and the lunch squares are even legible.

I also realized, in hindsight, that my fork pieces were definitely on the large side, fitting for a giant’s mouth. Also, the spoon is certainly not a real spoon – more of a glorified miniature spatula.

Other improvements to be made:

1. Bend the aluminum fork prongs – using a hammer and some rounded object

2. Find another material to make the spoon head – something that can be further bent/shaped – perhaps use the CNC to router a wooden 3D spoon head?

3. The waterjet certainly cuts on an angle, and if given the time, I would have attempted more trials in order to better fit the handle part to the head part.  The head notch measured between .30-.33 of an inch, and the handle cavity was between 1/16 and 1/32″ smaller.  Some parts fit together well…and alas, others were too fat, or simply fell through and required the aid of some Zap-a-gap.


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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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