Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Erwin Hauer's screen walls

When I was in New York last month I almost walked into some concrete that looked very familiar. The panel above a high basement entry to an office building had Erwin Hauer written all over it.
[Image of concrete panel near 177 E 77st in NYC. The address is quite near the American Museum of Natural History where I had just been staring at the collection of amazing dioramas, Photo: Anne-Mette Manelius]

The surface isn't quite as continuous as the name of Continua screen series indicate - but it clearly shows how the elements are produced. Below is an image of a screen with a lot smoother surface - could it be milled instead of poured?

 "Continuity and potential infinity have been at the very center of my sculpture from early on,” wrote retired Yale professor Erwin Hauer in Continua, 2004
[Photo by Ajmal Aqtash]

http://www.erwinhauer.com/ informs us on the bio of Erwin Hauer:
"Austrian born sculptor, began, in the 50’s, to explore infinite continuous surfaces. From these, perforated modular structures developed that lent themselves to architectural usage. He continued to develop these patented designs along with the technology to produce them, and installed the modular, light diffusing walls in buildings throughout the United States and seven other countries. These designs are listed in Domus 1928-1999 among the quintessential works of modernism. His sculptures are in numerous museums and collections. At the invitation of Josef Albers, Hauer joined the Yale Faculty in 1957 and taught there until 1990. He continues to work as independent sculptor, and also as a designer in partnership with Enrique Rosado, in Bethany, Connecticut. In 2004, as Princeton Architectural Press published Erwin Hauer : Continua architectural walls and screens,"
[Photos taken by Ajmal Aqtash during a rare studio visit in May 07′.
You can see more from that visit on the CORE.profiles' flickr page]

I just wanted to share this fellow with anyone who isn't yet aware of this formal genious.
What's really interesting here, is how the technologal development has revitalized Hauer's work.
The man is quite the old-school sculptor and made intricate forms by hand. A new partnership has made it possible to produce the screen in more modern ways. A partnership since 2003 between the old sculptor Mr. Hauer himself and Enrique Rosado, a former student of Hauer, who has developed the complex geometries for the Continua screen work elements.
"A professor at the Yale School of Architecture for more than three decades, Hauer's geometrically complex screens, mainly cast in durable masonry materials, but now also in wood fibers produced through digitally controlled milling machines, thanks to Rosado, can be found in New York, Miami, Montreal, Mexico City and Caracas, Venezuela." Citation from article in All Business.com

Back in the day formwork was made intricately by hand to cast in plaster or concrete- now you can print the interwoven, double curved screen elements in materials like aluminium. Or just mill the screens in mdf and other materials.

The web site list their materials in the faq section:
" Our designs are made with the following materials: Milled wood composite (mdf) Milled stone (limestone, etc) Cast gypsum (hydrostone) Cast grey or white Portland cement. New designs may be available in cast resin, aluminium and stainless."
[Photo taken by Ajmal Aqtash]

And why this post - to be honest, this morning I was reading the Semperian analysis by good-old Kenneth Frampton of good-old Jørn Utzon's Bagsværd Church in "Studies in Tectonic Culture" p291.
There's a porous screen wall behind the altar of the church- and that had me going - I need vacation - yet, procrastination as it may seem - the Hauer screen walls definitely seem worth a Semperian analysis itself.

See some more images at the core.form-ula blog post on Hauer or even better at their Flickr site from a rare visit to the Hauer workshop.

[Hauer’s first commission, before he left for the U.S. in 1955, was a light-diffusing screen for a church in Vienna, for which he cast the modules in the ruins of a nearby bombed-out building. Image from http://www.metropolismag.com/ slideshow linked to below]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adapa - more flexible formwork

I just came across Adapa, a brand new company started by two recently graduated Danish engineers on the basis of their thesis work (-that's what I've heard, anyway).

The guys have developed an adaptable formwork method using they good old pin-art principle, gotten themselves a client, and are underways towards a patent on their method.

Way to go - below are a few images from their web site - they will be guys to watch!
[Rendering of concrete shelter for Danish National Park Mols Bjerge]
[Rendering of the back side of the shelter showing signs of biological growth]
[Kinetic mould]
About the Kinetic Mould
From the website we know:
"The concept of the flexible mould to make it economical sound to produce double curvature surface elements in different material directly from CAD software. The flexible mould can within minutes position it self to any possible shape which makes it ideal for high volume industrial production."

[The flexible mould process from design to construction]

About uses
"The flexible mould seeks to satisfy the growing market for free form surfaces which typically is a very expensive surface to construct" besides the aim is to "promote more advanced as well as interesting architecture thereby leaving behind the concept of  flat tedious surfaces in architecture."

Pin art what?
The pin-art principle I referred to in the beginning of the post may ring a bell if you see this image below.

-or this movie of a performance on a large pinart frame at a kids' museum in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lecturing at the Danish Architecture Centre

If you're in Copenhagen, do come by the Danish Architecture Centre next Wednesday Dec 8th, 2010.

Along with two great speakers I've been invited to talk about building materials of the future - which of course in my case would be fabric formwork.
[Detail from fabric formed concrete chair - the Ambiguous Chair]

The talks are in Danish, I'm afraid - but feature three different approaches to working with material futures - besides my own which is the low tech approach yet new combination of materials known for millennia, two other architects are these:

Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen who was just appointed Professor at the RDAFA, is the head of CITA and a leading figure in the practice lead discourse of digital practice.

Kasper Guldager Jørgensen is head of development at Danish Architecture studio 3XN. He's really into features of emerging material technologies and how to embed them in the architectural practice of the firm.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Smokin' Concrete Hotpants

Swedish innovator and company Butong has added another project to the portfolio since Cancer City that I wrote about here. The translucent character of the technology is exploited in a project executed with White Architects.
[Two smoke machines regularily emit smoke which help to catch the light in the air. The result is a 3,5 meter high sculpture that may remind of a pair of glittering disco pants, a starry gate or a space-age Stone Henge]

Titled ‘Hot Pants Smokin’, referring to the song by James Brown, this sculpture of concrete and light was executed by White Arkitekter and Butong for the biannual Uppsala Lighting Festival (a.k.a. Allt Ljus på Uppsala).

[This is a lighting festival. But as architects we wanted to explore form and material containing light, rather than focusing on the lighting equipment’, says Jacob Melin]

The architects inform us on the project:
"Uppsala is situated in northern Europe, as far north as Alaska or Greenland. Through the dark month of november this glimmering structure stands in one of the busiest shopping streets of the swedish city.

This is a lighting festival. But as architects we wanted to explore form and material containing light, rather than focusing on the lighting equipment’, says Jacob Melin.
We wanted to make a mysterious and archaic object, in some ways contrasting to the commercial and mundane part of the city where it stands’.
How the Hotpants were made:
The material used is translucent concrete from Butong, mounted into 48 unique frames of thin steel profile. 

This low-tech BIM-project was developed working with physical models using steel rods joined by small magnetic balls
The rods were then numbered and measured, and L-profiles were cut ten times their lengths and welded into triangles. 
Each sheet of butong was cut into shape with a knife in it’s wet state before being fixed in place in its frame
The filled triangles were then welded together into five boxes, lights were installed and finally the structure was screwed together on the site.
Daniel Ljung took care of the design of the lighting and Philips sponsored with luminaires.
Smoke on the dance floor
Two smoke machines regularily emit smoke which help to catch the light in the air. The result is a 3,5 meter high sculpture that may remind of a pair of glittering disco pants, a starry gate or a space-age Stone Henge. It is placed in a pedestrian street, and it’s legs seem to be caught in the middle of a step.
Architecture can be interactive without buttons to press. Some choose to walk through, while others circle. Kids stop to peek inside, or pierce new and bigger holes in the structure where the concrete is paper-thin, letting more light out from the inside.
‘We choose to leave the crusts without protective layer, letting the sculpture transform throughout the month’, says Lars Höglund.
Architect: Jacob Melin of White arkitekter           
Construction and co-design: Lars Höglund and J-C Violleau of Butong
Location: S:t Persgatan, Uppsala, Sweden.
Lighting: Daniel Ljung
Event: Uppsala Lighting Festival 2010
Client: Uppsala City and Uppsala Kommun
Photographs: Per Lundström

Fabric formwork - and Concretely in print

The editor-in-chief of the Danish Concrete trade magazine called "Beton", Jan Broch Nielsen,  is always very supportive in covering the workshops that I do. A full two pages made it to the latest issue of the magazine, #4- 2010
[The cover of the 4/2010 of Danish Concrete Trade magazine "Beton" (Concrete), image from website]

The headline of the article introduces this very blog to the readers of the magazine. Readers, to a high degree, work in the concrete industry on plants, or on construction sites as concrete workers, engineers etc. - If the article actually brings forth a new reader - welcome :)

The article mentions Butong as an example of the content of the blog. The post about Butong is here. And here's a more recent project.

[Image from fabric formwork workshop, Photo by: Balazs Jelinek]

Material culture workshop
Two thirds of the article is about the student workshop held with European architecture students in August, 2010, in the Danish island of Bornholm. I wrote about the pour day here.

Above image from the Erasmus summer school illustrates the article. The image shows to groups of students finishing the fabric formwork before the big pour that same morning. Unfortunately, the photographer wasn't credited. Balazs Jelinek took the picture.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fabric Formwork in World Architecture Magazine

Just a little show off :) Here's a link to a publication that I wrote an article to.
[The front cover of World Architecture]
The Danish architect office schmidt hammer lassen Architects is part of my thesis work about fabric formwork for concrete. When the Chinese architecture magazine World Architecture did a special issue about the office I contributed with an article about sustainable aspects of fabric forming.

The SHL website informs:
"The theme is Sustainable Development through Holistic Design. -

The special issue of World Architecture focuses on how schmidt hammer lassen architects practises sustainable design. The featured projects in different scales, from macro to micro perspective, are for example Ecobay Masterplan in Tallinn, Estonia; Tian Yi Town Masterplan in Wuxi, China; Wuhan Great Lake Project in Hubei, China; The Crystal in Copenhagen, Denmark; City of Westminster College in London, U.K.; and Groendalsvej Zero-Energy Office Building in Aarhus, Denmark. schmidt hammer lassen architects has worked in China since 2003 and now has more than 10 completed projects.

With contributions from Chinese, Danish, British, and Swedish experts, scholars and architects, this special issue offers a broad introduction to the design philosophy and architecture of schmidt hammer lassen architects."

"World Architecture is China’s leading architectural magazine with a circulation of 30,000. The magazine, which was established in 1980, is sponsored by Tsinghua University."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eternit chairs explores production

I enjoy the curious look by Rainer Mutsch into the production facilities at Viennese composite concrete company Eternit. Eternit is the commercial name for fibre reinforced concrete normally used as flat facade panels.

Rainer Mutsch (1977) is the recent designer who've added to the range of design products produced along with the weather boards.
[Image of the three modular types in the Dune series, from Mutsch's website]

Mutsch informs on the background:
When I saw the very first Eternit – machine, I was amazed: 20 metres long, more than 100 years old and by now of course upgraded with high-tech computers, the very heart of the machine is still the cast-metal construction built back in 1905. This impressive device survived 2 world wars and is until today producing a material which is sold worldwide.

[Image from the production, photo  from Dezeen]
[Image of Dune chair during production, Photo from Dezeen]

[The shell and the mold, photo from Dezeen]

[Video of the production process]

Loop Chair - the forefather
If you think the design looks familiar you probably recall the forefather of Eternit Chairs - Mutsch's design is indeed inspired by Swiss Willy Guhl who designed the iconic 1954 Loop Chair - still in production by Eternit.

[Image of Loop Chair, by Willy Guhl, 1954]

Mutsch quotes Guhl (1915-2004) who said:
“there is no ‚good’ or ‚bad’ material, what makes the difference is its right and adequate use.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cracked Concrete Garden

It's a really gray Thursday morning and I just came to think of this fine garden design project done by San Francisco landscape architects Conger Moss Guillard.
[Images of little tough plants growing in the concrete cracks. Photos from CMG website]
The company writes about the project:
"The Crack Garden is a hostile takeover of a concrete urban backyard by imposing a series of jackhammer “cracks.” Inspired by the tenacious plants that pioneer the tiny cracks of the urban landscape, the formal rows of this garden create order amongst the random and mixed planting of herbs, vegetables, strange flowers and rogue weeds"

[More images of the cracked concrete garden. Photos from CMG website]
There's a beautiful oxymoron within the entire idea of a Concrete Garden. The project, direct in its approach, appeals to me in the stated inspiration by the appearance of a strong sprout managing to root itself in a little crack of concrete.

I couldn't help thinking of the drug when I came across Crack Garden. I guess, that garden might be more disturbing.

Harsh beauty of worn concrete
The strong contrast of the worn concrete and the fresh plants enhance the beauty in each other. Lovely! - Because, yes, I do find that worn concrete contain a great beauty!

[Image from the harbor of Trondheim - part of the Atlantic Wall, photo by yours truly]

Remind myself to post more images of the Atlantic Wall, the coastal fortification cast by the Nazis in a whole lotta concrete that remain very present all along the western European coast. 

Here's a link to a guide to (concrete) war tourism of the west coasts of Denmark and Norway 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dutch Prefab Case Studies

While I'm at it here's another link from my Summer School Concretum Compendium introduced here.
It's still an anonymous author from the Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam
[Image of concrete surface from Case study presented on BureauBakker's web site]
Prefab Case Studies was or is an initiative into exploring prefab concrete which received the Dutch Building awards 2009 in the category Services & Communication.

Here's the link to a slide show of works described further below.
And here's a little movie

'jury commentary Dutch Building Awards 2009:

Creative with concrete! That's how the jury describes this entry. As they should. The Prefab Concrete Casestudies unveil the building material's potential. Exchange of knowledge among designers and manufacturers proofs that concrete is much more than tough, gray and simply straightforward. The casestudies offer room for imagination and lead to a formal language that this industry normally is not able to, or does not want to speak. This opportunity for creativity is beneficial for the industry as a whole. According to the jury the integral manner in which the initiators handle the open dialogue and knowledge exchange is unique.'

Bureau Bakker describes the initiative here:
'The initiative for the Prefab Concrete Casestudies originates from striving towards a more intense, exploring and fruitful communication between manufacturers of prefab concrete and designers. The Casestudies are organized in such a way as to focus this communication on the development of the product – prefab concrete. As such an innovative approach of design, application and manufacturing becomes the main issue.'

Fascinations and ambitions
and continues:
'The Casestudies are seemingly focused on research and development of concrete. The invitation to the designers seems to be very clear about that. Even more than pure product development the Casestudies are foremost an introduction into different cultures. Those of designers and manufacturers. De proposals are often so extreme that within the very short time span of a Casestudy there can only be a first and extremely important step towards a serious product innovation. Nevertheless promising prototypes are being further researched and developed.

The core of the Prefab Concrete Casestudies as presented by the initiators is to discover each others fascinations, ambitions and potential. The potential of concrete. The fascinations for the material by designers as well as the industry. And the ambitions for aesthetics, manufacturing and innovation.'
[Image from the website - featuring Concrete Design Competition, photo: Maarten Veerman]
What is Bureau Bakker?
Siebe Bakker is the architect by training who's behind Bureau Bakker - I've come across the office before because he is involved in the Concrete Design Competition - another site worth exploring for inspiration into concrete futures!!.

Baukje Trenning's art in concrete

As a preparation to the Erasmus Summer School 'Concretum', students of eight European Architecture Schools made a marvelous compendium of concrete innovations from their respective countries. 

I just browsed through it again and pursued some web links in the printed booklet (of 200 pages).

Without further ado, I'm passing on the link to you - aging as it is - the portfolio collected in 2007 of Amsterdam based artist Baukje Trenning (B. 1969) is still a great source of alternative concrete surfaces used in the urban landscape.

[Image collection from Baukje Tenning's web site]

The author who provided the link doesn't appear in my compendium, but it's from the section produced by the students of the Academy of Architecture, Amsterdam

Friday, September 17, 2010

Particule stool

[Adrien Rovero: Particule Stool]

Just something I should get back to - the stool is not even concrete - but it's just the way the parts are produced in parts that you can transport flat and stack - and then assemble, could be transferred to fabric formwork - possibly to uses of Concrete Canvas, which I wrote about here.

The stool by Swiss designer Adrien Rovero, is made of compressed and moulded wood chips, the technology borrowed from the wood pallet industry. Light-weight, sigh :)

[Stool parts]

Master of plaster - Rachel Whiteread

For some reason I just recently looked further into the amazing, solid world of Rachel Whiteread.
In the beginning of the 1990s she basically cast all the voids she could find - empty houses, inflated mattresses, the space under furnitures, behind book shelves, you name it.

Of course what she did, tells stories of what those spaces are about and adds narrative aspects to casting into molds. It's about time that I add a few images and some words someone else has written:
[Rachel Whiteread: Untitled (Nine Tables) 1998]

Untitled (Stairs)2001 - from Tate Advent Calendar [the image above is of tables and not of chairs, sorry]

"Chosen by Jo Fells - "I first saw this in a show in Edinburgh, it reminded me of how I love to sit on the stairs and used to play under the stairs in the broom cupboard - Whiteread's work gets me thinking about spaces we don't often consider, under the chair, the bed, the texture of the walls, the space under the stairs. For me that's what art is about - a trigger to make you see the world through new eyes."
Jo Fells, Museum of London

object: 3750 x 220 x 5800 mm


[Rachel Whiteread: House, 1993]

About House, Whiteread's most famous piece - For Damon Hyldreth, he sees,

“…a reversal of an enclosing, comforting, dwelling, a place of repose and comfort, a symbol of domestic hopes and dreams. What was left was a monument to one’s most private moments but with the privacy stripped bare and petrified. “House” monumentalized the past in a subversive manner, instead of allowing for a connection to and retrieval of the past, “House” subverted the warm cozy memories of home.”
I found the quote in a longer post about the cast house spaces on the Imoralist blog here.

[Spaces between book shelves, Plaster - the dye on the back of cheap paperbacks has transferred into the plaster, it seems]

["One Hundred Spaces", Recin casts of spaces under chairs]

Wikipedia informs us:
For the Sensation exhibition in 1997, Whiteread exhibited Untitled (One Hundred Spaces), a series of resin casts of the space underneath chairs. This work can be seen as a descendant of Bruce Nauman's concrete cast of the area under his chair of 1965.
The critical response included:
"like a field of large glace sweets, it is her most spectacular, and benign installation to date [...] Monuments to domesticity, they are like solidified jellies, opalescent ice-cubes, or bars of soap — lavender, rose, spearmint, lilac. They look like a regulated graveyard or a series of futuristic standing stones with a passing resemblance to television sets."[7]
— Andrew Lambirth, The Spectator, October 12, 1996.

[Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Air Bed II) 1992

Polyurethane rubber. Object: 1220 x 1970 x 230 mm,sculpture. Tate ]

The Tate site tells us more more:
"Whiteread's sculptures are casts of carefully chosen objects, most of which bear the traces of human use. She most often casts the 'negative' spaces around these objects, which then become the 'positive' form of the sculpture. Often the objects recall poignant events; her recent group of bed casts can be associated with sleep, illness and dying. This work adds another dimension to the group of bed casts, with its combination of solid sculptural form and associations of air-filled fragility. Here, the mould containing the air mattress during the casting process has become part of the work, enclosing the Lilo within its box-like shape.
 (From the display caption August 2004)"
It was this last piece that I was reminded of, when I came across concrete furniture cast in pvc inflatables, namely furniture by designers Tejo Remy & René Veenhuizen.
[Chair and bench cast in pvc]

A blog post on Dezeen informs us on the process of casting :"a series of furniture that appears to be made of inflated fabric, but actually is made from poured concrete. Remy & Veenhuizen cast each prototype as a single piece in individual molds created from waterproof PVC or plastic sheeting. Once assembled, the molds are placed upside down and concrete is poured into the feet. The legs are steel reinforced and the concrete itself contains small metal fibers that add stability. Within two days the works are solid enough for the mold to be cut off; and, within two weeks, the furniture is completely dry.

The pieces were exhibited in the designers' first solo exhibition in the spring of 2010 at Industry Gallery

Shake, drape and bake - Concrete Canvas

[Concrete cloth is a concrete impregnated canvas, which you drape in shape you want - and then add water]

Following the post on a fabric formed side-table, I was reminded of Concrete Canvas - A textile impregnated with dry concrete mix - you shape the heavy canvas - and add water to activate the chemical binding process of the cement.
Like the Shake and Bake cake mix, you just add water

The clever idea was started for an idea of creating emergency shelters that would work as seen below.
Today the company have created a civil line of use and a military one. 
To erect the shelters, the inner liner is inflated via an electric fan. As the liner expands it lifts the concrete cloth into the Nissen hut shape, which is pegged out and the canvas is then hydrated with water or seawater. In 1 hour the structure is self-supporting and in 24 hours it’s ready to use
[Concrete Canvas is used by the British Army - concrete draped sandbags work well as protection against bullets]
I guess the fact that the military has started using Concrete Canvas is the proof of the great idea - I'm looking forward to seeing some more architectural and poetic uses of this 'shake, drape and bake' concept.

Concrete Canvas has been awarded several prizes - I think the company have received the Red Dot Award Last year the company received the Medium Material Award from Material Connexion.

Here's some text from the inauguration in November 2009:

"The award recognizes materials juried into the company’s Materials Library within the past year that demonstrate outstanding technological innovation and the potential to make a significant contribution to the advancement of design, industry, society and economy. 
“The MEDIUM Award for Material of the Year is an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary breadth and scope of materials innovation today,” says George M. Beylerian, Founder & CEO of Material ConneXion. “The winner is distinguished not only for its technical ability, but for its capacity to make a lasting impact on our lives.”

"With the simple addition of water, Concrete Cloth makes it possible to create safe, durable, non-combustible structures for a wide range of commercial, military and humanitarian uses," 
said Dr. Andrew H. Dent, Vice President, Library & Materials Research at Material ConneXion.

"This innovation is especially remarkable for enabling the construction of rapidly deployable shelter and food storage structures in disaster relief situations," Dent added.

Fabric formed concrete side-table

[MASS |||| by Janwillem van Maele]

Here's an introduction to the production of a fabric formed concrete design piece, the thesis work of Janwillem van Maele aDe Hogeschool West-Vaanderen. The feeding of the DWG file to an automatic stitching of the fabric mold is the part to have in mind here - the pour is done by filling the form with dry concrete mix and then watering the form afterwards (see below images that tell the story well). 

Van Maele writes this (as communicated on the Dezeen Blog) The MASS |||| is a concrete sidetable with the following production process: "I started with a DWG file for the right shape of the legs. That file can be entered in an industrial embroidery machine. This is automatically sewn."

The pictures below go mostly without saying - in the bottom of the post is a reference to a product that uses a similar technique at a larger scale.
[Sand- I think it must be to tension the fabric and maintain the shape in place, that extra load is added]

[Water added to the filled fabric form. The water drenches the form and activates the cement inside]

[Kit of parts to create the fabric formed concrete side-table]
[The DWG drawing of the unfolded fabric formwork]
[Tailored fabric formwork]
[Formwork before it's hung and filled]
[Reinforcement bars were pushed into the form when filled. I'm surprised if the concrete mix doesn't have fibres as well]

At a larger scale
The 'watering technique' resembles, in a smaller scale the ingenious product Concrete Canvas, which I just did a post on here:
[Concrete cloth is a concrete impregnated canvas, which you drape in shape you want - and then add water]
Materials used for the side-table:

Color Pigment, Staple, Iron Reinforcement, Mixer, Staples, Yarn, Tape, Water,Industrial embroidery machine, 15-layer crosswise glued birch veneer, shuttering plate, Portland cement, Computer, Textile, White sand, Cork