Madison New Media studio project

December 24, 2010

first piece of the formwork - first part of the experiment

Let me introduce you to my final models for my comprehensive studio project. (The first is a 3/8″ section model – 8″ wide, 30″ long, 24″ tall, the second is a 1/16″ full building model – 13″ x 9″ x 5″.) (I am in a dual masters program in architecture and urban design). I figured they deserve a post, as I spent oh so many hours thinking, toiling, experimenting, and hoping that the experiments would work. Having never poured concrete before, I had some learning to do. Fortunately the studio motto by many is “it takes a village” and many people were really generous in sharing their experiences, tips and tools. I used Rockite – basically a really quick setting, fine concrete. Formwork, I learned, is tricky, because you have to think of the opposite of your shape, and in my case, I needed to think of my structure horizontally, instead of vertically. These images of the formwork are the five floors laying horizontally, they will all be put together in the final images.

after the first pour - I like to think it was hatched. I completed it in four pours, so I got a lovely variation in color tones.

The one thing I dont like about this process is the waste of the formwork – foam core in my case – something for me to take into consideration in the future.

after spending 50+ hours working on how to set this up, it's finally built!

Working from a computer 3D model, then figuring things out in the “field” with exact measurements took quite a while. I decided to add another slight detail by beveling the footings which tested my ability to cut 45 deg angles by hand in the foam core and remembering to always think about how the edges will show -as every texture shows itself in this game (whether its intentional or not). In fact, I had a friend who did a pour and used a piece of foam core that had had soup spilled on it – he cleaned it off, figuring that it would work just fine. The soup had absorbed just enough to change the color of the concrete in that spot!

finished formwork for the big pour! check out all the support!

It’s hard to say if the concrete is really going to stay in its bounds, and how strong the foam core is going to hold up.

during the pour + no leaks! success!

It was a proud moment when I realized the base was level and balanced! It’s square!

texture from the metal screen I put in the formwork - I like the irregularities.

all the pieces together! (roof constructed out of wood)

detail view looking into the core - see the inlaid wood shelving...

detail showing the texture, the core, the balconies, and the LCD screens

front view showing the media LCD screens

here, the relationship between the LCDs and the viewing balconies

And now for a look at the 1/16th inch scale model. (I made tracks out of wood, so the screens move.)

top view of the full building - clear acrylic floor plates show the columns connecting through the floor plates

north facade

south facade

east facade - LCD screens

roof deck looking out to the lake to the northwest

screens can slide, allowing users to adjust the interior light; here the LCD screens are shown on the east facade

detail of the screens...gaps show the space between interior programs

the screens move! you can make your own moire effect!


Now! What to do with these things? I’m thinking the large model could be used as a book shelf, spice shelf, plant shelf…. any other ideas??


6 Responses to “Madison New Media studio project”

  1. Clarke Says:

    Really nice work. Impressive. Here’s my question. Why are they still getting students to make these models? Is there something you feel you learn with the physicality that you don’t get from the 3-D computer model?

    • keihly Says:

      Clarke, good question. Well, that is the whole point – you should be able to get a different experience from these models than from a digital one (and other drawings, etc). I think its really important to know how to work with materials (we are lacking this so much) – especially building materials… and to know how things go together – in drawings and 3D models it doesn’t have to stand up, it doesn’t have to be square. (There are many ways you can just half do something, or “cheat” because you can always just not show that less-than-resolved side.) Granted, people to make amazing renderings from their 3D models – it’s a very important skill set (and one that I really need to improve upon!) But I still like to physically touch the textures and feel the weight of the materials, and just learn from the process of making with your hands. I feel like we spend so much time at our computers, we dont really work with our hands much anymore – its a shame. This is where the connections and the details get figured out. (In my way of working, anyway.) Does that answer your question?

      • Clarke Says:

        You know that I get that conceptually. I’m all about it in fact seeing as that’s what I’ve always done. However, my question is how does the physical experience of building the model relate to the actual building. You aren’t using anywhere near the same materials, techniques, tools, or anything else. That concrete pour you did in the studio would have been so drastically different in real life that I think you’d have been better off building a tiny section of the actual wall with all the real materials than building a model of the whole thing…. Just trying to get in the groove here and understanding what you academics do, ya know.

        • keihly Says:

          I think really what these kinds of models do is creating an object that shows the proportional relationship of the spaces >>for the viewers, and the reviewers of your project<< so, its another explaining tool. You are right, in another school perhaps, these full scale (small portion) models would be more valued.. but I think in the case of my studio, its about how you communicate your ideas, and you dont really need to do the "real" processes to achieve that… (in most cases, i think this is true?) Its a representation.
          I know its goofy, I question it myself. It frustrates me, actually. This is why I'm working towards getting actual building – of real (useful) things – into my curriculum.
          I guess school figures that you are thought how to actually do build this stuff outside of school – in school you are focusing on the ideas.. does that make sense? maybe not. Fire back!

          • Clarke Says:

            right, okay, that’s a different argument that i understand theoretically, but don’t agree with. I think computers are much better at getting the physicality across than physical models that are out of date the second they are started. I think these models are an anachronism left over from the pre-computer design age. please don’t tell me that they are getting you to use helioscopes and do sun studies with actual models….on the other hand, i think your first argument is a pretty good one. even if you aren’t using the actual materials, just messing with the physicality of a building, especially as a student, is way better than just staying on paper. In any case, I’m not making waves here. Things always seem strange when spied from the outside looking in.

  2. Declan Says:

    To chime in on the computer model vs physical model discussion. I think it is important to remember that architecture is an art. It is an art that is not just about the building that may or may not ultimately built, but also about the process of getting there. So, to me the suggestion that architects should just use the computer to make a piece of their art is like saying that painters should just use Photoshop or Illustrator. A physical model is a medium of expression. In school one should learn the tools that are available to them, in an effort to have the highest capacity to express ones self. A pet peeve of mine is that computer models are considered analogous with physical models. A computer model is 2 dimensional. It exists within the screen, or printed, and although the perspectives are infinite, this does not make it “3D”. I understand this is what they are typically called, but I think it is important to remember that it is truly not. A physical model is. Our architectural expression, if they ever get build, will exist in 3 dimensions;I believe it is useful, and imperative, even if at a different scale, to deal with the reality of space and not just virtual space. Nice work.

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