1:1 Facade Detail Model, Henry Faulkner

[Re_Map] student Henry Faulkner has created this 1:1 detail model demonstrating the variable solar shading facade concept he has designed.

facade section1These two renders show how the facade would appear with shades open (above)and then closed (below)
facade section2Henry describes the project for us:

The overall project has resulted in a mixed use development which aims to provide housing and an educational facility for academic refugees from around the world. The vast majority of refugees entering the UK in recent years have been from the middle east and northern Africa, from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Syria. Taking influence from their history and culture, I developed a facade component that adopts an Islamic geometrical pattern, using its rotational symmetry to create a dynamic solar shading device. (Henry Faulkner 2014)

Henry FaulknerHenry cut the gearing for the model using acrylic to create the components which he had developed through test models previously. The refined design was then drawn up in cad and the component profiles laser cut – fabric included. When cutting fabric or any material you are unsure of it’s always a good idea to run some tests on a scrap piece to ensure the finish you wish to achieve.
Henry Faulkner Re_Map (3) Wire was used as a former and support for the fabric ‘fans’ which when stretched out want to fold under their own weight.

Henry Faulkner Re_Map (2)Henry Faulkner Re_Map (5) Henry Faulkner Re_Map (7)

Henry Faulkner (8) Henry Faulkner (9) Henry Faulkner (11)

Pavilion Development Continues

The development of the Dunham Massey Pavilions has been slowly progressing over the last two months with many different problems to overcome. Many of the original concepts have changed in scale and style whilst others have remained largely unchanged.

For Alexander Valakh and Lorena Chan the main problems have come from various material tolerances effect on their designs.

The group used the CNC router to cut plywood components for this phase of their design development. The original poppy concept that was made from cardboard and the riveted elements allowed a lot of flex. When applying the same ideas to a more durable and weather resistant material the same shapes could not be achieved. This is where 1:1 design development models come into use.To test the strength of each joint for their revised design the group decided to risk lorenas life lorena to the task. Luckily their design proved successful and despite a few oversights in fixing elements which can easily be rectified, the group can move on.

After the experimental first test in concrete casting, it was nesissary for this group to solve the issues of casting their numbers into each block. For their second attempt they tried using laser cut rubber components with a much smaller block to prevent material waste and save on weight.  Any mould is always worth considering in depth as a badly designed one will cause you a world of problems when you come to remove your cast. This box was simple but constructed well to allow easy disassembly once the cast has cured.  The finished block turned out well with the flex in the rubber numbers allowing for the expansion of the concrete as it sets. Laser cutting this material can prove time consuming and the number required may need to be outsourced due to demand on our machines from all Architecture Students. It is always worth considering outsourcing elements that need to be mass produced as if you are involved in a ‘real world’ project. Costs can often be lower and experienced companies will be able to offer you more specific advice on what you are trying to achieve at 1:1. We’ll be posting more on these project in the near future! 

Garden Pavilions Continued – Learning Curves and Problem Solving

Development of the 6th year pavilion projects is continuing at pace down in the workshop. Test models often bring assembly issues to the surface which Alexander Valakh, Lorena Chan and Nancy Chan have been finding with their concepts. This is exactly why these models play a vital role in design development.  Here Alex has created his outer skin from laser cut polypropylene plastic sheet fixed with pop rivets. This has proved tricky and mid way through assembly it became clear that a more uniform stapled fixing would have been more effective. Lorena and Nancy have spent the last few days fixing components for this concept together. The original concept was to have a smooth curved structure forming the tunnel walkway. As the components were fixed the group found that the curve was un-uniform due to the varying strain between components. Whilst this isn’t exactly how the concept was drawn it has still proved an interesting experiment and may still be taken to the next stage.

Pavilion Project (4)The concrete cast (below) has also had some teething problems with the cast numbers not turning out as refined as the group would have liked. This process will require more thought if it is to be taken forward. The group has found that their choice of aggregate or quantity used may be to blame for the irregular casting around the number details. One thing is for sure it wont be going too far given its weight despite having a polystyrene block inside to reduce the material used!

Garden Pavilions at Dunham Massey 2013

Much like the brief set this time last year students are currently in the concept stages of designing a series of pavilions to be constructed at 1:1 at Dunahm Massey (Read our blog post here). This project was challenging for both staff and students last year and really pushed the boundaries of what the workshops can handle.

This year the project is aiming to be more refined and, with support of workshop staff, come to an effective and ‘speed-bump’ free conclusion!

Alexander Valakh (Below) is working on several sketch models to help convey his project named ‘The Shadow of War’ to tutors in the hope it will be taken to the next stage of development.

To test his theory for eventual 1:1 construction Alex had produced a plywood sketch model in identical fashion to the full size proposal on our CNC. Producing this model has allowed Alex to explore problems he may encounter whilst using this method and has already identified several areas that will need more thought. These issues are not a hindrance to the design process but feed into it and shouldn’t be seen as a waste of time. problem solving through trial and error models are often the best way of refining a design for production.

This group is also producing another concept pavilion using paper to create the sketch model. The flower-like components are created and joined using pop rivets which will eventually form a curved canopy. 

Another (!) concept from the same group involves casting concrete blocks as part of a wall sculpture. This is part of the same brief but is less interactive due to the nature of the proposed site. This was poured yesterday afternoon and is still setting so we’ll hopefully have some more pictures of how that is progressing by the end of the week.


Plaster Casting guide inspired by Timothy Richards Models

Earlier this year myself and Jim went on a visit to Timothy Richards workshop in Bath. Read more about that visit here.

In response to what we saw there we decided to have a go at casting some facade tests of our own to demonstrate to you the potential when using this method for modelmaking. Starting with some reference images of the University of Manchester Archway we decided to focus on one of the Gothic style windows as our subject.

Making a ‘Master’

Initially recreating the form of this stone work in miniature may seem time consuming but as you will see the end results are fantastic and the intricate detail featured is easily replicated by casting.

A good way of creating details like this is by layering sheet material, in this case acrylic. Planning the layers on CAD will allow you to break down the details into manageable  stages (Above). When combined, the layers of laser cut acrylic form the recesses and steps in the winder with the radius in the stone work being replicated using a filler and hand sanding (Below).

Spraying a coat of primer paint on hand finished areas can help to identify any imperfections in the surface (Below). This primer can then be sanded back

The extra details of the window can be formed using styrene and or abs strip with any further radius being creating again with filler. Once complete the master model is ready to be moulded. 

 Pouring a Silicone Mould 

The are a wide range of silicone’s available for mould making so it is always advisable to check the specification of individual products before committing to use them on your master model. Firstly ensure the master is secured to a mould former – in this case we used a storage try which suited but bespoke formers are usually required.

Ensure the silicone is mixed to the manufacturers instructions and pour in a thin stream to avoid any air bubbles forming against the master mould. Ensure the master is sufficiently covered and allow to cure for the recommended time.

Once cured carefully remove the silicone mould preserving the master mould to be reused if any problems occur. The benefit of using silicone is that the flex allows the master and eventually cast items to be easily removed without much stain on the items themselves.  Some minor trimming of silicone overlap may be required before the mould is ready to be used for plaster casting.Plaster Casting

As with the silicone there are many types of plaster available so always check to see if the specification suits your needs. In this case we simply used stone plaster mixed to the correct consistency and poured directly into the silicone mould – no release agent required.

Once the plaster has set it can be carefully removed from the mould giving a completed cast. These sections can be used as tests or replicated to create a more detailed facade. 

One area we have touched on is adding pigments to the plaster mix to give varied results in terms of finished cast colouring. We will revisit this area when we have time to experiment some more and let you know how it goes. If you have any ideas that could make use of this method of making be sure to get in touch either via email or in person at the workshop. We are more than happy to help! Scott & Jim



Gothic Window Maquette, Luke Tyson

Luke’s Year 6 thesis focussed on a site at Green gate Square opposite Manchester Cathedral.

This laser cut development model to test a potential construction method for later models. In the end Luke decided against taking this idea further for this project but this sample turned out really well. Here Luke has layered up laser cut cartridge paper to mimic a stone sculpted Gothic style window. The results looked fantastic and go to show that with patience and experimentation when using machines can give a great range of results.

It’s always a good idea to experiment with these ideas at an early stage of your projects as they often lead to changes in your design and give great insight into success and failures of specific elements.

Luke Tyson y6 (4)

Bradford ‘City of Film’ Facade concepts, Lisa Kinch

Lisa Kinch massing model, bradford

Lisa’s project has explored Facade detail for a proposed film related site in Bradford. Alongside site and massing models (above) Lisa has created an unusual facade concept to cover her proposed buildings. Taking from the idea of aperture and its use in film, her concept uses varying sizes of hole to create images of the city around the building that appear to change as the light conditions change.

The completed building facade would feature a panorama of Bradford around created around each elevation.


These tests were done on paper using images created by changing images into vector in Adobe Illustrator. The laser cutter can work with most paper and card materials to produce effects like this and countless other.

Noise Testing Aggregate models. 5th Year group Project

Aggregate Tests These 5th year MA Architecture students are using various aggregate mixes to create a series of test pieces for potential facade finishes. The blocks are being used to test how sound changes depending on the block being used. Any obvious changes such as increased or decreased pitch will be noted and taken into account when discussing the potential used of such finishes as external facades.We should be seeing more developments in this project in the future.

Project by Sophie Samuels, Ellis Murphy, Dev Coll, Ben Porter and Flo Fernandes.

Aggregate Tests (4)Aggregate Tests (1)Aggregate Tests (2)