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For the sun shade project, I wanted to achieve an interesting composition for any building to utilize using the three layers required for the project. I researched a few shading techniques on other building and discovered that the shading created with the use of thin, intricate shapes with more void than solid were the most intriguing patterns. So, in my project, I tried to incorporate this with inspiration from a bee’s nest being deformed by a heavy weight being placed on it.

Using Autodesk Maya, I was able to imagine what that “beehive” would look like after deformation. I used the soft select tool on selected vertices and manipulated them in areas where shape changes would take place. I key framed my first stage and last stage of transformation then created an animation snapshot to get multiple middle pieces. I then chose the most appropriate section and extruded all three with Ming Tang’s super extrude script. After digital design was completed, I tried to send it to the RPC for fabrication with a laser cutting but my voids were too large which meant the laser would cut through areas I did not want it to. In order to fix this I had to mess with the file in Rhino and manipulate the shapes to be the proper distance apart.

Project 2 required us to develop an object that is parametrically controlled so I chose to deal with structural elements and how we can manipulate them to fit any building shape. In order to start with this concept, I decided to use a building currently under construction that had a unique shape and unique structural challenge. The Santiago Calatrava designed Transportation Hub at the World Trade Center seemed to be the correct precedent for exploration. Calatrava used Autodesk Maya for his final design which does not bode well to parametrically controlling the shape, spacing and height of the structural columns so I decided to write a Grasshopper script that achieved the same basic form, but also allowed for changes to be easily made.

Image: http://0.tqn.com/d/architecture/1/0/e/h/transportationhubNY_exterior_0374hi20res.jpg

In order to achieve this, I first began with a range of points in a linear direction. The number of points controlled the number of columns I would eventually have. I then needed to create a parabolic curve that also translated in the z direction for the height, not just the x and y direction. For this I plugged a function into my range with {sin(x/y)*z} as the equation, allowing me to adjust a slider which controlled the height, frequency and the open angle. Using two of these sine curves with the same points, I connected them with a line, thus creating the skeleton for the columns. To model the columns, I created two distinct shapes along the points of both curves and connected them with a loft using each line as an axis for every column. In order to create the top pieces (the shading element for the interior of the building), I simply rotated the columns I created along the top sine curve and used a non-uniform scale to control the different cross section and length of these members. To make the Calatrava inspired building a three dimensional reality, I mirrored my previous geometries which allowed the entire building to be manipulated parametrically with just a few sliders. At the end of my script are areas dedicated to rendering an animation* and flattening the pieces for laser cutting, so they can be ignored if neither are needed for other future designs with this script.

The shape I created was just an exploration on using Grasshopper and no other modeling program to create an architectural structure. This script can be easily manipulated to place columns along a linear grid or with random points in space.  All that has to be done is replace the sine function with the shape of preference for the designer and the columns should be just as easy to manipulate.

To view my video, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG2eZ1UuMq8

For fabricating this project, I wanted the physical model to be able to rotate just like the digital model was able to do. I designed the laser cut pieces to have holes in the ends of the acrylic pieces so they could connect with a dowel or bolt, allowing them to rotate freely depending on the shading required.  My model is nine inches long in the center column which creates a problem when using dowels as the pivoting element since the reality is that dowels just let the top pieces rotate down due to gravitational loads. The way to combat this is to use something with threads such as a screw or bolt, which will create grooves in the acrylic and prevent the pieces from moving down unintentionally. I also only built half of the model and mirrored it so the cutting cost and fabrication time would be less.

Both projects have been useful for my education and can be utilized for an actual design project later on in my career. The sun shade can be used in virtually every project and can be an intriguing way to deal with shading without using shades or louvers to thwart the intensity of the sun at midday.  Not only will the grasshopper script be useful for other structures in the future, but the fact that I now have the knowledge of how to use Grasshopper is a very valuable tool for my future designs. I am very thankful to Ming for teaching this class because I know Grasshopper will be a tool I can utilize for many years to come and I enjoyed every minute of it.

*Render script from Giulio Piacentino on his website: http://www.giuliopiacentino.com/

Presentation powerpoint:Final Presentation

Grasshopper Script: Calatrava Shape

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I am deciding to change my final project from the shadow art to a Calatrava designed building. Refer to my project one precedent building by him to know what building I am going to model in grasshopper. I will also try to attempt to control the angle of the upper structures in order to adapt my shading angles and also the thickness of the structural pieces to allow more or less light in depending on what I am trying to accomplish.

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Below are the shading pictures of my model from project 1:

Images taken at 12:00 pm

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For the third project, I want to create an image and text using shadow art. Typically, an abstract sculpture is created which in turn creates a shadow on the wall that gives the shape of a familiar cartoon character or recognizable symbol when a light source is directed on the right area of the sculpture.

What I am attempting to do is create one sculptural piece that creates an image from one angle and text from a different angle. I have found sculpture that creates two images, but never an image and text. This project will be related to my studio project involving the Cincinnati Reds, so the theme will be based upon this. My original inspiration for this project came from the splash screen of 3ds Max as seen below.

The way I plan to achieve the effect I want is to import the shapes I want to create into Maya or Rhino and then create two light sources. I will then project lines from the imported images to the point light. Hopefully, wherever the projected lines intersect will become a suitable shape for the sculpture.

To see what these shadow sculptures can achieve, go to the URL of this video:


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Inspiration for my light screen came from a beehive and how I think it would look if it were to be crushed. I took the hexagon cell structure found in a beehive and morphed them into a configuration that one could see as being smashed under a heavy weight.

The way I achieved this was to give all three of my layers the exact same pattern and width using the chamfer vertex tool. I then thought about where the crushing weight would be coming from and transformed the areas of cells that would be affected by such a force. The result is a light screen that started off as a uniform figure but evolved into a seemingly random shape with a crushed cellular structure.

As seen in the three layers of my light screen, the original cell structure was made up of uniform hexagons morphed into the final figure of being crushed under a weight.

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Santiago Calatrava’s Path WTC Transportation Hub mimics the image of a bird in flight as a child releases it from his/her outstretched hands. He also designed the structure to receive light 60 feet below ground, so the 250,000 commuters can feel the warmth of the sun. The Master Planner of the entire site is Daniel Libeskind who was on the committee that chose Calatrava’s design. David Childs, who helped with the Freedom Tower design, said about Calatrava’s design, “Not only is it going to work well, but it will be a true inspiration to those who pass through it. It’s an emotional solution. This is an A plus.”

I chose this building for this very reason. Not only is this design an innovative form, but it captures the spirit of the nation in being able to fly free. The transportation hub will be built with equal parts of steel, glass and light.

Originally, Calatrava designed the ceiling of the hub to retract, but budget cuts put a damper on this ability. However, the intent of the design is still there with possibilities of future renovations to accommodate this ceiling. The building with the ability to move would further the allusion of a bird in flight. The interior spaces of the hub will have no vertical columns, enhancing the sense of light, movement and openness.

To view the video, follow this link and click on Path WTC under the Current tab: