matter at work – casting

authors:  Jakub Jílek, Hseng Tai Ja Reng Lintner,
Marcus Abrahamsson, Karin Hedlund
location:  Chalmers Johanneberg Campus, Göteborg
date:  autumn 2012
course:  Design and Comunication Tools / elective
institution:  Chalmers University of Technology
tutors:  Daniel Norell, Stefan Svedberg

Project brief:
The course addressed the contradiction between the recent advances in material science and computer controlled production and the lack of architects actually working with matter in any way that goes beyond traditional material specifications. It put into contrast matter and materiality as being integral to the design process and the articulation of architectural space. The main theme was casting; taking it one step further by unlocking the live material agency of casted matter by digitally altering the linear process of casting with the aim of balancing geometric control with erratic material behavior. The course called for a portable gallery for the university campus. See the course blog:

In terms of material culture we were interested in creating a contradiction between the inherent properties of a material and the appearance or experience of that particular material. For the purpose of enhancing this, a traditional type of material that has long historical associations with heavy weight construction and mass, concrete, was chosen. The overall geometry was generated in order to be in direct contrast to the actual physicalities of the material.The aims of the final outcome for the gallery space included flexibility and variety. In order to achieve this, a stackable paneling system of lightweight shell-structure arcs that could be mounted in several ways was developed.

In the design process plaster and soap were used. The openings and cavities were created during the casting using a hydrophobic nanomaterial aerogel and an obstruction object. Soap was shaped into convex lenses in those openings working as magnifiers for the displayed objects inside the pocket created by the obstruction object.

In order to achieve variety whilst mainting minimal CNC-milling time, we constructed a flexible mold from silicon that could be draped over scaffolding with a predetermined arc.