Design + Build Studio
A strong dichotomy exists between the factors of fluctuating natural orders apparent in the river, and the striation of the land by human historical and cultural influence. This installation exists as surface of influence between these forces. The form is informed by parameters of light, vista, material and process through a method of digitally folding and perforating sheets of steel to enable a self structuring membrane which rises and falls from the plateau edge. This edge is demarcated by a swath of prairie grasses, rising and falling in their own cycle. A screen of 15 weathering steel sheets stretches for 63’ across the boundary of the human order and the encroaching erosion of the natural realm. From the initial generation of geometry pairings, well “adapted” pairings are spliced from the parent and “bred” with similarly fit geometries. The fit of these pairs is based on the relationships between the form and the desired criteria of reflection, screening and framing.
The patterning ranges are developed by merging images of the river surface with tonal ranges that pair with the desired transparency of the metal surface. Water surface images were chosen for the non-uniform distribution of tone. Light tonal areas create small punches, while dark tonal areas create larger punches. The water composite image is rasterized in a half-tone patterning and converted to fabrication data with RhinoScripts for CNC production. By weaving structure and surface into the ground, acting as a disruption of the terrestrial field, we create an event rather than an object, connecting organically into pre-existing, living dynamic systems at the vestigial intersection of the sky | earth | water. Our installation is sited in the liminal zone between the fluctuating river zone and the cultivated landscape of the arts park—a terrestrial suture merging of event and field.
Site concepts were then applied to the parameters received from the metal fabricators. Four by eight sheets of metal were sheared into two pieces at an angle, creating three asymmetrical plans that were folded into twelve different shapes. The angles from the shear and the break patterns created a variety of ways the shapes could begin to sit together, to produce both lateral and vertical movement within the site. Perforated shapes are placed against the ground plane, the holes filled with native plants. In this way, the installation shapes the vegetation within it, but is also taken over at the edges by the existing plants on the site. The steel employed intentionally weathers to absorb and trace the effects of the conditions around it. Two pieces of mirrored steel were strategically placed into the design to reflect the canopy above, casting the sky against the ground. The final form weaves through the existing site conditions, shaping the terrain as well as being shaped by it.
Perimetric Boundary Team:
Robert Beach, Austin Durbin, Melissa Funkey, Jori Garcia, Robert Horner, Anne Jeffs Cupp, Katie Marinaro, Christopher Peli, Josh Reitz, Chelsea Wait
Director, Institute for Digital Fabrication
Associate Professor of Architecture
Partnering Campus Units:
Virginia Ball Center, College of Architecture + Planning
External Support from Industry Partners: $2500 in Materials and Fabrication