Pangaea Stage Set for Manchester Academy by Peter Lee

Towards the end of the first semester 5th Year Student Peter Lee was approached by The University of Manchester to design and make a large scale set piece for the student run festival, Pangaea. The event was held at the Manchester Academy and runs across many venues in Manchester. Pete described the project for us:

 ‘The event’s theme was ‘Space Odyssey’ so designed a ‘wormhole’ with an elevated DJ booth as a focal point in the centre. Throughout the project I was working closely with Academy staff as the design had to both be both the right size for the room and mountable on the existing lighting rigs on the stage. 
For ease of fabrication decided to use 12 identical interlocking triangle frames to create a portal, which sits in front of an aluminium circle truss with fabric panels to give the appearance of depth. The design was also created in coordination with a projectionist, who required a scale model for testing visuals on. By mocking up the design physically at 1:10 it gave me a really good idea of the structural issues faced by hanging a 4m wooden portal and helped me to design a bracing system’

Pete Lee (2)The model was made using components that would eventually come to life as large scale versions looking virtually identical. A wooden frame was used to support a focal hub and fabric was then stretched to the back of the segmented aperture-like ring at the front of the piece.Pete Lee (5)Once the design has received approval for full size production Peter went about turning the concept model into a full scale design. The triangular sections were each cut out using the larger CNC cutter at MMU before being transported across to B.15 for additional pieces to be added.

Peter describes his reasoning for using CNC cut components for the full scale prop:

‘For the 1:1 build I found the CNC machine a really useful tool as it would have been nearly impossible to replicate twelve identical panels by hand – absolute precision was really important throughout the process as the projection maps only had a few cm tolerance for error. Although the digital methods I used were really basic (Sketchup) it was incredibly useful for working out the angles for the panel structure. 
Another really important part of the project was getting logistics spot on – was quite limited for time due to university commitments so efficient use of workshop time was crucial and greatly aided by digital design tools. The panels were prefabricated over a month before the event, which meant the assembly was pretty straightforward.

Due to the obvious weight difference in the full size version of the prop each component had to be well built to avoid any accidents. Each triangular section was reinforced with pine timber baton which was glued and screwed into place.

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‘Good communication with other parties was also key as the success of the project was highly dependent on fittings in the Academy and the synchronisation with projections. Resolving issues far in advance meant the on-site build and event itself ran smoothly.’.

IMG_0143In place at the venue, the stage prop served as the focal point for the nights performers and was lit by constantly changing projections and light displays. The image below shows the piece on stage before the event began. The image below show the finished piece during the live event.10887278_461189607366949_5284888234544424655_o 10955797_461189257366984_3543354359810081653_o 1606453_461189224033654_1058877598167468098_oComparing Peter’s prototype to the completed piece shows very little structural difference and is yet another example of how a test model can serve to prove a design idea. Both the development and final versions of the project will make great additions to Peter’s portfolio with the two conveying his design thought and testing processes to a potential client or employer. You can see more of his work here.

Abhi Chauhan: ‘Testing the Machines of a Third Industrial Revolution’ 1:100 Site Section Model

6th Year MArch student Abhi Chauhan has recently completed several models as part of his Intimate Cities project. The earlier models were used to demonstrate initial concept ideas and helped influence design changes. In keeping with the subject matter of the proposed development Abhi has put heavy emphasis on digital manufacture.

Abhi gives us an over view of the project and how this model fit in to its development:

As part of the Intimate Cities Atelier this year we were concerned stalled construction sites in the city of Manchester. These sites are unique in that their infrastructural order has been partially installed and my primary aim is the reconnection of these sites back to the city context. Situated on the Potato Wharf stalled construction site, the final scheme looks at the idea of bringing around a Third Industrial Revolution, by looking at the research and testing of an advanced manufacturing technique (3d printing) and a new energy infrastructure, (hydrogen fuel cells).

 Realised as a masterplanning strategy the stalled concrete frame on the Potato Wharf site is used a ‘live’ test-bed for 3d printed architectural components, in addition to this the scheme engages with the redundant  transport infrastructure bounding the site and reinstates the canal and rail network as a distribution matrix for the transport of raw material. A reconfigurable 3d printed public park defines the edges of the new site in the overall strategy.

VISUAL LIGHT

The renders depict how the main 3d printing manufacturing hall and hydrogen exchange will look. The 3d printing facility is concerned with the research, manufacture and testing of 3d printed architectural components and as such the construction and detail is oversized to deal with a variety of different scales present on this project.

This first conceptual model depicts the main processes occurring in the 3d printing facility and follows the life-cycle of a 3d printed architectural component from its raw powdered state – stored in a material archive; to the printer beds; then for reconfiguration in a graveyard of failed components; and ultimately to its reverse engineering back to its raw powdered state.

The main frame was laser cut from 6mm MDF and designed to slot together. After spray painting grey to depict a raw concrete surface a series of powder printed material stores were fixed in place. It was decided to 3d print these stores due to their complex shape and the desired ‘layered’ construction aesthetic I was after.

The main machines in the model have all been constructed from separated components each laser cut from 2 and 3mm clear acrylic.

The 3d printed architectural components created in the facility were depicted by themselves being 3d printed. These parts were modelled in 3ds max and made ‘watertight’ ultimately for 3d printing on the ABS printer. (Abhi Chauhan May 2014)

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One aspect of Abhi’s model work which is particularly successful is the appropriate use of different process. Having an understanding of the best suited method to achieve a desired outcome is key to an effective model. Without a clear aim as to what it is you are trying to convey many models have little practical use in conveying the key aspects of a design concept. This model of course naturally lends itself to 3d printing due to the subject matter.

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Change to Opening Times from Tuesday 28th Jan 2014

Beginning Tuesday 28th January the workshop will be closed between 9.30 and 13.00 to all students apart from Contested Peripheries Atelier students. This will remain in effect every Tuesday for the rest of this Academic Year.

This is due to a change in teaching structure which,in the not too long term, will benefit all students. Our efforts will be focussed on delivering specific advice based on the whole groups needs whilst being exclusively available to answer questions as a group and to individuals.

These sessions will aim to focus on the theory of modelmaking and question your approaches based on what you are trying to achieve.

Necessary inductions or refreshers concerning machine operation will also be given.

The workshop will re-open as normal from 14.00 to all students.

Here are our amended general weekly opening times:

Monday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Tuesday:14.00-16.30

Wednesday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Thursday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Friday: 09.30-13.00 (One hour Lunch Break) 14.00-16.30

Saturday/Sunday: Closed

We look forward to getting started!

Jim & Scott

The Peak Pavilion Project

This project consists of 8 ‘peaks’ which each point toward a significant battle of the first world war. Each peak will feature poetry written by patients at who stayed at Dunham Massey during its use as a hospital for wounded soldiers coming back from the front.  As with the other ongoing pavilion projects, this concept began in physical form as a sketch model.  Structural details were designed and refined through a series of test models. This example shows the internal frame construction to support each pillar in the circle.

After test models were made at small scale the group went on to make some details at 1:1 to test assembly and strength in reality. This section below shows how the framework inside each panel would be fixed. These kind of 1:1 details are great design theory tests and offer as close an insight as possible to the finished look without building the full structure.

Making components for this project, much like the concrete mould construction on one of the other pavilions required the mass production of specifically angled cuts using our circular saw.Due to the acute angle required for the top ends of each piece we were unable to cut the required angle using machines. In order to achieve the correct angle the group used a custom made mitre jig and hand saw to cut the correct angle at the end of each component. This proved to be a hand saw learning curve for most of the group after falling into the common misconception about using a hand saw – small fast movements will reduce the effectiveness of your cutting. Taking time to get used to using the main length of the saws teeth and allowing the saw to do the hard work always proves much more effective and less exhausting! 
The panels for each peak will be assembled using screws into pre-drilled holes (below) which will be plugged to make them less obvious. The main panels of each peak will be cut using a large CNC bed at FAB LAB Manchester. As with the other pavilion project developments, we will keep you up to date as things progress.

Campo San Martino, Venice Site 1:200 Master Plan Model

This year 6 Group project uses Jelutong block to create the busy built up area of Venice, Italy where the focus site of their brief is located. Once complete individual site study models will be placed in context to demonstrate their relationship to the existing constructions and canals in the area.

Dividing up time consuming tasks like mass producing bespoke block model shapes can be sped up by involving all team members as long as everyone has a clear understanding of what is trying to be achieved overall.

3D Powder Printed Venice Master Plan Site model, Lauren Green and Becky Prince

Laura Green and Becky Prince Y6 (4)Lauren and Becky decided to create their site master plan using 3D powder printed components on a laser cut plywood base. The completed model looks great and shows in detail all the shapes that make up the exiting structures their chosen site.

Laura Green and Becky Prince Y6 (2)For those eager to try 3D printing it may be worth noting that this is a fairly unorthodox approach to making a site model due to the cost implications. This batch of printing came to a total cost of £116. When combined with other material and machine use time the total cost of the model came to around £150. This is minimal compared to commercial model costs but cheaper approaches can be carried out if cost is a concern.Laura Green and Becky Prince YR6 (1)Despite these cost implications, the outcome is very successful and clearly conveys the level of detail sought for the project. The use of timber against black acrylic to represent waterways is a style often used by David Chipperfield Architects Models.

Completed [Re_Map] 4599/’Beyond Conflict’ 1:1000 Coventry model

Here we can see the complete [Re_Map] 4599/’Beyond Conflict’ 1:1000 Coventry model being displayed with projected graphics and under lighting.

[Re_Map] 4599/’Beyond Conflict’ 1:1000 Coventry model

This year 6 project has focussed on the city of Coventry with a view to looking at the functionality of the city post WW2. Given the scale of the area being studied the group chose to produce their master plan at scale 1:1000. Building heights we created by layering up cut components to an approximate height based on the number of floors at the scale. The group had two other methods of conveying their site.. Firstly a projector would be mounted above the model projecting mapping over the model to convey various changes. This required quite a lot of thought and as the group realised, time should always be made for overcoming scaling issues when using projected images.

Coventry Master Plan (12)Secondly, buildings the group has focussed on across the city were made as separate acrylic blocks assembled in the same manner as the laser cut ply components. There buildings would allow light from the plinth base below to be case upward mapping specific roles of each site.Plinth construction should always be kept as simple as possible without compromising the strength of the construction. It is important for the sake of material waste and money that any plinths are designed well and used only when necessary. The plinth-base construction was chosen to allow the group to store several map types which can be slotted in place to cast a variety of chosen scenarios across the buildings. This meant the proposals for the site could be demonstrated in variants and allows further proposals to be demonstrated at a later date.

Welcome back to ‘SEED’ and a new academic year!

As some of you may have noticed we have added an extra ‘E’ to our name due to the merge with the School of Education. Our full name is now the School of Environment, Education and Development or SEED.

Busy summer

Over the summer we have been busy co-writing a second edition to the highly acclaimed book ‘Architectural Modelmaking’ by Nick Dunn. We expect the book to be published sometime next year and should prove very useful for existing and new students of architecture. We’ll post more on this when we can!

This had kept us productive along with a materials re-stock and clear out in preparation for your return. We hope to stock some new acrylic thicknesses in the next few weeks. Up to date materials price lists are now up in the workshop and can also be checked here on the blog.

Up-front payment for laser cutting

From now on we will only be allowing students to book laser cutting slots if they have paid. This change is being implemented to reduce the number of no-shows that occurs during busy periods which led to many hours cutting time being wasted last term.

New Full-Time Workshop Technician 

The workshop now has an additional member of staff as Scott Miller has now been made a full-time member of the technical team. Some of you may have met Scott last year when he worked with us on a casual basis. Scott is a very accomplished model maker and will be happy to help with any of your model making requirements.

‘We Are All Explorers’ End of Year Show 2013

 It’s been a couple of weeks since our last update - with good reason!

With all systems go for the end of year show things have been very busy in the workshop with final model’s being finished, wall units and display plinths being made. As well as these student tasks we had our own projects to complete for the show.

The opening successful and the exhibition days over, we can be certain all efforts paid off.

Here are some photographs of the completed works on display. More case studies will follow soon! For more information about the ‘We Are All Explorers’ exhibition click here.

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