Parabiotic Elasticity: Submission for Acadia 2011 by T. Jordan+B. Ballok

PARABIOTIC ELASTICITY: The anatomical and physiological collision of two or more organisms in which the total kinetic energy of the particles remains unchanged. Elastic properties, relative tensile strength and translucent qualities fuel the use of castable urethane elastomers. Once tension and mechanics are introduced to the cast urethane component, a response follows in which a variety of deflections and expansions occur simultaneously. Advanced prototyping and research has led to the acute control of deformations using differing combinations of hardnesses at key moments in the urethane component. This allows connections and structure to resist deforming while other key parts stretch, expand, release and bend in x, y and z directions. A polymethyl methacrylate (acrylic) structural grid absorbs stress and translates as a fully interactive freestanding object allowing the multiple urethane components an improvised reaction in concert transposed across a dynamic subsurface.

A computer generated cnc milled high density foam mold serves as the casting medium for the flat-cast liquid urethane component. A tooling path is embedded in the mold to allow a subtle surface texture to capture and reflect light qualities. Each unit is then assembled through a series of folds, bends and creases to create a fully realized three dimensional form ready-made for active engagement in an array using two stage poured cast urethane connectors embedded with flat cut aluminum reinforcing plates. The urethane component and the connector are attached with a pin connection allowing float under varying stresses.

The freestanding grid structure consists of a series of flat-cut struts designed with a snap fit assembly using translucent acrylic sheets, fire polished at all edges. The substructure was composed to predict and harness reactionary kinetic forces projected by the urethane elastomer system. At several key moments the urethane component system engages the structure using three dimensional standoffs fabricated as cut and bent aluminum pieces.

Lighting of the individual urethane component is achieved with battery operated LEDs mounted with hidden fasteners and concealed within chest cavity of component. Light is washed out of cavity and thrust through each of four curved tentacles. Batch LED strips concealed at lower and upper struts of structural grid admit light through acrylic and transform polished edges into a radiant and defined array of linework which, due to the translucency, appears to float behind the urethane system.

Each system and relative connections in the parabiotic elasticity installation is derived from computational anatomies designed to explore the interrelationships between cast urethane elastomers, polymethyl methacrylate and 6061 aluminum. The urethane component system was designed using a series of digital data inputs which congeal into a fabricated output, transforming latent (flat) analog material into a highly active and exposed raw stream of energy.

Final Presentation_Jeffrey Rengering


The objective of the project was to explore the relationship of a facade with the building occupants.  The project explored a kinetic skin concept that would respond to the movements of the body within the structure.  A kinetic skin normally responds to daylighting or ventilation but here the skin would react to the motion of the occupants as a display of the activities within the building to the outside pedestrians.


Precedent – XEROMAX By Future Cities Lab

XEROMAX Skin, by Furture Cities Lab, is a quarter-scale experimental beta test for a responsive desert envelope that is calibrated, tuned, and responsive to the arid environment. The skin is part robotic structure, part experimental interface, and part analytical drawing instrument, it registers energy cycles and interactions over time while harvesting light, wind and water to produce a habitual space without traditional walls and roofs. This prototype is constructed of ultra thin custom actuators, arrays of light and proximity sensors that responds and moves with the body as the user interacts with the skin. As the skin interacts with the occupants over time, its behaviors will change and adjust as it registers and catalogues the events and changing conditions around it. (

The driver for the project is the motion of the body itself.  As a body approaches a section of the louvered facade, the louvers will respond and rotate expressing this movement.  Similarly when an occupant enters a room, such as an office, the facade will react to their presence and the louvers will rotate open allowing for daylighting and views.


Final Presentation_Sarah Vaz_Geometric Morph

This project was originally conceived as an occupiable interior spiritual space, designed with the intention of directing the observer’s attention upwards as the walls dissolve into light.

Since the model was to be a static object, I chose an unchanging constraint: that the amount of light transmitted by each module varied based on its proximity to the ground plane. Those closest would admit the least light, those furthest the most, thereby getting a simple gradient of illumination from the ground to the top.

The module itself was designed in Maya as an octagon extruded into a small square aperture. A duplicate of the original module was then modified to open into a large aperture and a blend shape was applied between the two. Then a driver key was set so that the aperture would be smallest at a low point, and largest at a high point. The modules were then arrayed across a vertical Cartesian grid forming a gradient of modules with small apertures at the bottom to modules with large apertures at the top. Square spacers were necessary to fill the octagonal geometry, and the entire plane was wrapped into a cylindrical form.

Fabrication was fairly straightforward with a dwg fold-out from the program Pepakura Designer, and sent to be lasercut out of 1/16in mat-board. Originally the cylinder was going to be held in shape by a series of circular ribs and each fold would be held together with a glue tab. I found that neither of these were necessary as the material had a thick enough edge that the tab would be redundant and was sturdy enough to retain a cylindrical form on its own without ribs. I also realized that on a large scale the parti would work structurally in the way that the more solid modules would be at the base and more suitable for compression than those at the top.

On a larger scale it might be possible to cast these pieces out of concrete and stack them in rows, both to the size of an interior space or a smaller column. One of the interesting things about this object is that it can be conceived in multiple scales: as the originally intended interior space, as a structural and ornamental column, or simply as a lamp. The module could be applied over a different gradient as well such that it respond to a different lighting or structural constraint, or it could be made operable and still maintain the same geometry using say, two frames, one fixed octagonal and one square and telescoping with some kind of flexible material in between that would be pulled into tension as the aperture shrinks. A second iteration would probably address that type of mechanical variability.


Final Presentation | Elastomeric Response | Trevor Jordan + Brian Ballok


Elastomeric Response is a process of design and discovery from digital to analog platforms.  The system is an amalgamation of information, which is captured through material testing and performance across a surface and materialized through digital modeling, tooling, and casting.  Castable Urethane Elastomers were chosen because of its elastic properties, relative tensile strength, and translucent qualities.  Further research into mold-making processes became vital to the creation of this system using a plastic material.


Initially, the wall system was to take advantage of different hardnesses allowed by the elastomer by locally defining certain hardness where more structural support is needed.  It quickly became apparent that the wall would not be self-supportive and required a rigid back-up.  The elastomeric system responds to kinetic forces, giving and stretching as needed.  Its high translucency and unique form make it almost glow in the sunlight, casting ribbons of shadows in spaces behind it.  Finally, a container was modeled into the form to allow a growing medium to be introduced as well as luminaries. Data Input/  Parameters: The form was derived using EPDM rubber roofing membrane to fold and stretch as the elastomer would have.  Creating anything in a digital environment became very difficult since it could not respond to forces like gravity.  Using Evan Douglis’s work as a precedent for aggregating components, a final study was produced that could exploit the qualities in both the material and casting process.


We chose to cast the component’s form as a flat surface, then fold and bend it to its final shape due to the form’s complexity.  Undercuts became too problematic to pursue a mold where we could cast the form as one whole piece.  We first created the mold in Rhino, then added a separate tool path to the surface as a way of embedding a process into the surface for added detail.  The mold was CNC milled from high-density foam, then sealed and coated with a release agent.  For casting, two elastomer compounds were combined ( Hapflex 1021 and 1056) to yield a hardness of about 40A.  Heat was then introduced to the elastomer cast to expedite the curing process.  A flexible epoxy was finally used during the assembly process to bond edges and seams, allowing even the joints to move as needed.  Pushnut connections and custom cast connectors were used to connect the system of pieces together.


This project shows the potential of crossing between digital and analog environments at each stage of a projects evolution.  It demonstrates the importance of a certain craft where the hand becomes evident.  The casting process was for the most part a success.  More investigation into the joint is required for further evolution of the project to make assembly more streamlined and intelligent.

digital_studies1 (click for image) digital_studies2 (click for image)

Sommers|Berte Final Presentation + Design Process


The objective of LuftIllumen© is to provide a modular lighting system to be used for the temporary (rental) market. The unique characteristic of this project is that each module would consist of a floating lighting element whereas each module would have different apertures to control lighting for each unique situation. Putting them together would form a floating cloud of light, with areas of dense to little light according to the needs of the particular space.

The original mock-up plan of each singular module consisted of a lightweight shell/skin/envelope that has specific apertures, on extruded surfaces from a basic icosahedron form, that permits a certain light density to be emitted. Inside the shell a large balloon would be fitted with battery powered LEDs and filled up with helium, making the singular module float in the air. All the modules could then be grouped together by magnetic connection points fitted in the shell surface. After taking in the comments at the final review, we are tended to go with the use of independent connection pieces to reduce the weight of the basic modular element.

The elements were created through Autodesk Maya. The icosahedron form is standard in the program. Each triangular side was then equally extruded out of the original form. A triangular opening was created in each extrusion that functions as a light diaphragm. This first object was duplicated and altered to have bigger apertures.

In Adobe Photoshop we created a square black and white image  to form the basis of the exemplary assembly. This was in turn used with a blend shape to shift between the smallest and largest aperture objects.

Originally the size of the apertures were controlled by the height of each module in the overall assembly.  This first digital assembly was derived from the black and white Adobe Photoshop picture that we drew, whereas the white regions were the lowest elements.  The different heights were then broken in five specific heights with their respective aperture at that point.

Each separate element was then imported into Pepakura Designer, where it was automatically unfolded as a cutout sheet. This file was then cleaned up in Autodesk Autocad and prepared for lasercutting. After the lasercut sheets were finished, we just had to fold them to their form and glue it together.

The first fabrication we tested, were two icosahedron forms that each could be cut out of a single Museum Board sheet and folded together. This size was a good study model but proved to be too small to integrate the balloon and LEDs.

The second fabrication we had lasercut was a larger element out of five Pulp Boards. This material might still be too heavy for the ratio Helium to carry the element versus the dead weight of the element itself.

We are still looking for better lightweight materials to test such as Aluminum and plastics such as Polyethylene.

Testing another technique such as injection molding with plastics, could result in the redundancy of the (internal) balloon, and rather use the void within the element to directly be filled up with helium.

Link to final powerpoint: *Final Powerpoint Presentation*

Derek | Frederik

//////Weave//////James Herrmann/ Mark Talma////Process/////


The objective of this project is to create a screen of modular pieces that weaved in and out of each other that could be variable based on the width of the connection pieces and the manner in which it was connected to allow more or less light through as required. The modular pieces themselves would be fused of connected in such a way that it would give the illusion that it was cast as one singular piece increasing the complexity and disguising the actual process of fabrication.

Performance Based Design

This design is related to performance based design in that this skin or screen could be used in conjunction with Ecotect to create to manipulate the amount of light being allowed into a building’s façade. The placement of certain components in areas of greater heat accumulation and other components in areas of lesser heat accumulation can be worked out using image mapping parametrics from Maya to balance the heat gain within the space and create a comfortable environment.]

Data Input and Driver

The initial data input for this process is first the development of a form that can change based on the Evaluation process which gives the form a performative quality. This was done through the use of Maya to create a simple yet easily manipulated form that allowed the general weaving aesthetic but also the input of variation of certain variables to increase or decrease the surface area the form occupied.

The second data input was the evaluation of the environment for which the form would be adapted algorithmically to control solar gain. This was done using an Ecotect image derived from a digital model of the space. The resulting data was represented graphically as a gradient of color which represented a range of either high or low heat gain. This data was then input into Maya to reconfigure individually assigned components that related to the amount of heat gain needed to be reduced, algorithmically with the data  from the Ecotect model.

The final data input was then reducing the more complex initial model to a more easily manageable and smaller number of standardized kit of parts to be manufactured and molded. This then required taking the 2 chosen standardized pieces and using the data/model  of these pieces to create negative space of the mold that would be CNC milled and later form the actual formwork in which the screen’s components would  be cast.

Fabrication Constraints

There were some constraints in dealing with making the mold. Due to the fact that the mold was being made through the fabrication process of CNC milling there was an issue by which the tools creating milling the mold, being round, would be unable to cut some of the square corners on the negative molds. This required a reworking of the molds so that all edges were filleted and this round. Once this was done the milling process could take place.

Due to a negligible margin of error of the actual digital model and a the margin of error existing in machining, such that the actual milling material’s ability to create a surface as smooth as that intended by the digital model is impossible, an offset of -0.001 also had to be set to each mold to ensure the pieces would fit together. Despite this however the pieces still do not fit perfectly and will have to be sanded down by hand.


As a result of the late fabrication of the mold we are yet to produce the actual artifact to create the actual screen. Based on the difficulties so far incurred there is no doubt that we will encounter many more issues when the mold is eventually made. Our hope is to document these procedures and add to this document so that we can eventually improve our skill and methods of mold making and casting in order to continue to explore the possibilities of parametric design through this medium of fabrication. If possible perhaps we can also adapt and mix other modes of fabrication with this one and asses the advantages and disadvantages of each process. It is clear that this is just the beginning and that a final conclusion to this project is yet to come.


Final Project Design Process_AlexanderMega&JeffBadger_716


The goal for this project was to examine the translation of a design for a light screen across various media.  What began as a vertical screen of varying opacity, became a layered atrium canopy that could permit/deny views, stratify the intensity of natural light, or scatter it.

The phenomenal transparency of the canopy responds primarily to the optimal light levels in a building.  Each canopy creates differing light levels and views in the space below, and effect of multiple canopies allows for a gradient of diffuse light.  The vertical edges derived from each surfaces cuts provide also provide diverse systems of light distribution, with more transverse surface area scattering more light.

The driver for this process is the extent to which a plane is stretched vertically in Maya. Utilizing a soft selection and an exponential curve, a surface is subdivided with Ming Tang’s weaving MEL Script. Flattening the resulting distorted web creates areas of higher and lower density, which control the admittance of light. Furthermore, the width of the web’s segments was also adjusted to control shading and the material’s propensity to sag or deform.

For the physical model to have a relation to its digital counterpart, the desired material needed to stretch rather than merely drape.  It should therefore be able to deform in tension, yet also resist compression. A flexible polymer would have required a rigid skeleton or an abundance of tensile connection. The same concern existed for Lycra, which may have curled after being laser cut and suspended. The solution was to laser cut acrylic and deform its shape with a heat gun. This process aimed to shape the canopy like the digital model, while also responding to the material’s inherent willingness to bend. A more flexible material would have stretched of its own accord, but would have also required a separate logic of reinforcement or post-tensioning for the desired effect.

Focusing on the desire to scatter light and vary its intensity, we were able to apply the same logic to a vertical screen and a series of horizontal panels. By examining the final model, it is apparent that such a series of canopies could yield a stratified lighting condition in an atrium or a light well. To better demonstrate the effect of the project’s shadows, it would have been necessary to make the objects opaque. In its current state, the series of canopies could scatter light, control views, block UV rays, or mitigate reverberations in a large space.

Regarding methodology, the translation of a form across various media highlights the possibilities and limitations of each step of the process. Part of the project’s interest is noticing what changes and what remains constant when a plane is warped and flattened digitally, fabricated, and re-warped manually. The result is a balance between controlled intentions and an openness to serendipitous outcomes.

final review

photo of final review.

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Final Presentation_DianeGuoandVictoriaSaunders


500-1000 Word Design Process:

Our project is designed as a simple shape that rotates to create complexity. We wanted to show that even with a simple, static shape, movement could be created and building performance could be improved. Our system can be set up to respond to any parameter such as day lighting, ventilation, drainage, views, usage, etc. For this prototype we designed it to respond to day lighting.

The gradient that drives the rotation of the petals was taken from an EcoTect image that tested the daylight quality on the bridge connecting the Alms building and the DAA building above the blue box. The south facing circulation bridge is rendered unusable due to its over exposure to the sun. In this case, the installation acts as a shading device that allows daylight to come through in certain areas and be blocked out on other areas.

For this location the design called for a lot of shading, bringing the petals very close together; this lead to the issue of collisions during our design process. Before sending the files to the RPC we created a full digital model of the prototype, and found that some of the petals collided with surrounding petals or supports. We considered combing or cutting those petals that collided, but felt that this went against the purpose of our design. Our solution was to spread out the supports slightly, creating a less dense system. The result we felt was improved by this decision, because it created more variety in the amount of light that came through the petals.

An issue that arose during the fabrication process of our prototype was the need to have an entire second set of petals laser cut. We did not want to label the petals with a numbering system or anything else to make each petal unique as we felt this went against our intentions. So we decided to use tabs to keep all the petals in the sheet until we could label the back’s. But there turned out to be a deficiency in tabs on our petal files that we sent to the RPC. With reference to the RPC site we chose the width of the tabs and assumed that two tabs would be enough to hold each petal in place, this did not turn out to be the case. The first time we went to the RPC to pick up our prototype our petals had all fallen out of their frames. After explaining the issue to the RPC, they graciously agreed to re-cut the petals with three times as many tabs that were twice as thick as the originals to ensure that the petals did not fall out a second time. This change was successful and we were able to label all the petals on the back, before assembling the prototype.

This project was interesting in its process and results. It was a challenge to create the rotation of the pieces to display a sense of scattered chaos on top of the ordered system that needed to be in place for fabrication. It was also a challenge to ensure that none of the chaos collided as well as assemble the chaos. But in the process of this design we learned some of the uses and capabilities of several programs, checking is always advantageous, and that tabbing should be overdone. This process resulted in a prototype that could be used to test this systems ability to affect the thermal properties of a space, as well as in proof that complexity could come from the rotation of a simple, static shape.

Final Presentation_ Flaherty+Tabet

LIGHT RIBBON_final presentation

Nature provides abundant examples of transforming shapes and figures. The changing arrangements of these forms are made apparent through the shifting of the light that animates them. A tree canopy is one of the best examples nature provides for altering forms and intensities of light. Through a process described as “biomimicry,” design fields have learned to use these examples given by nature to improve the qualities and effectiveness of spaces.

Light Ribbon utilizes the concept of biomimicry to create a new canopy of diverse light. Using 3-D modeling tools, a surface is pierced with openings of varying sizes and then populated with undulating filter modules of varying heights, with openings adjusting according to height. These filters are laser-cut and folded trapezoidal prisms made of museum board while the underlying surface is a laser-cut felt ribbon onto which the prisms are sewn.  The sizes and heights of the openings and filters, respectively, were based on high-contrast images of light filtering through a canopy of trees. Darker areas of an image were represented by smaller openings and taller filters with smaller apertures while areas of intense light were transformed into large opening with shallower filters and larger apertures. Once the prisms are sewn onto the felt, the whole is molded into a new undulating form held by a wire mesh frame. This layering process thus further mimics the multitude of layers that create a tree canopy.

The process of creating Light Ribbon is heavily dependent on the use and understanding of digital fabrication and materials. First, understanding the fabrication process directly alters the design of the filters. Determining that these would be created using a simple laser-cutting process meant understanding the limitations of transferring a three-dimensionally modeled object to a two-dimensional unit that could be rebuilt. A process of unfolding and re-folding addresses this challenge by taking the original 3-d model, digitally unfolding each module size into a flat plane, laying out the shapes on the materials to be cut, and refolding each final, physical piece into its original 3-dimensional shape.

Second, these shapes need to be easily manipulable, to be bent into their individual modules on the one hand, and to be twisted as a unit into an undulating shape on the other.  This necessitates a clear understanding of materials and their limitations. The material of the modules is first chosen based on its perfect combination of stiffness and malleability. The museum board withstands the burning process of laser-cutting while also allowing for ease of folding.  The felt piece is then chosen for its soft, fabric qualities. It provides a surface onto which the museum board can easily be attached to become a unit that the felt can then reshape. It is also a solid material that can control the light that passes through it. By puncturing specific holes of various sizes in the fabric, the light that shows through is controlled and create dynamic.

The entire assembly of Light Ribbon is intended to demonstrate varying intensities of light through a filtered process. This can be done at any range of scales. Light Ribbon can be adapted on a small scale as a lamp accessory. It could also be transformed into a medium scale construction as a ceiling light pattern; or, it could be expanded into a larger scale façade system, transforming the interior atmosphere during the day and activating the façade attitude at night.