Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome and Goodbye to Concrete

Welcome to Concrete
The town called Concrete, Washington, USA got its name from a large cement company. I sometimes use the photo of the cement silos in the beginning of lectures - it says it all: Welcome to Concrete. 

According to the town's wikipedia entry the population was 705 souls in 2010 and the town just had its hundred-year anniversary. It is quite amusing how two towns were created on each side of the river by the founding of two large Portland Cement plants - one of the towns was called Cement City. The two towns grew together [a little concrete pun: Concrescere in Latin, let's call it the composite city] and got the fitting name Concrete.

Welcome To Concrete by VaultBoy13
[Welcome To Concrete, a photo by VaultBoy13 on Flickr.]
Goodbye to Traditional Concrete
In Arizona, a new sheriff came to town in 2004. The designer-concreters at Gore Design Company really meant it when they started a new business. Below is their 'obituary' to traditional concrete (not the town, I assure you):
["Traditional concrete died in 2004" via]

Traditional Concrete 
27 BC to 2004 AD
"Concrete, as it has been known for more than 2000 years, died in early 2004. Born during the Roman Empire, Traditional Concrete thrived as aqueducts, sidewalks and lawn gnomes

Traditional Concrete, however, met its death at the hands of an unknown assailant sometime during the night in early 2004. Multiple bullet casings were found at the scene and based on the small amount of residual evidence forensic experts believe this could have been the work of a professional

[Police investigation the crime scene where traditional concrete died, via]

Police are currently interviewing witnesses but due to the ongoing investigation cannot comment on specifics of the case. A Phoenix detective, speaking on the condition of anonymity, has indicated that Police have a strong suspicion that Gore Design Co. may have played a part in the assassination. A tremendous paradigm shift occurred in their work shortly after Traditional Concrete’s death, raising eyebrows of both investigators and designers. 

Traditional Concrete is survived by it’s better-looking stronger son, GFRC (Glass-Fiber Reinforced Concrete). GFRC resides in Gore Design Co.’s Tempe, Arizona studio furthering suspicions of involvement of the rogue concrete artisan firm. Any information regarding this case should be reported to the authorities immediately." Via Gore Designs' Website

[In charge with a smoking gun - Eames meets gfr concrete (and ink) check out great images and design here]

Welcome and goodbye for now.
Yours (corny) Concretely

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Floating Concrete- Weaving Shores

Weaving Shores Kissing Buoy is a studio project from the course Formworks at Columbia University that I introduced here
[Concept of floating concrete buys in Weaving Shores Kissing Buoy, via]

The project is a concrete buoy that becomes part of a woven landscape on the shore of the East River in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It responses to the workshop brief to produce 1 and 2 part molds and design a concrete element system that incorporates the specific elements and mode of construction.

[Concrete Prototype, Weaving Shores Kissing Buoy, via]
The concept and the production of a concrete element that floats and interlocks into a 'woven,' walkable, and physically flexible system is a great way to get many parameters at play during the course.

The presentation is also inspirational because of the introduction to reference works and technologies.
[Weaving Shores Kissing Buoy, via]
The idea of fabricating concrete shores is not really that intriguing to me. Giving it a second thought, the need to respond to the rising seas on our warm Globe calls for drastic measures to create adaptable shores. The project also suggests a combination of human recreation and an artificial 'aquatic habitat.'
[Reef Balls, artificial concrete reefs, via]

One of the project's references is work by the Reef Ball Foundation, which is a simple concrete forming method to produce artificial reefs. The aim is to create an  aquatic habitat for the animals and plants who become homeless due to drastic methods of fishing. The concrete reef also works to protect existing natural reefs.

Weaving Shore Kissing Buoy by students: Aisha Alsager, Joanne Hayek, Anne Wei, and Bernadette Ma.

Formworks at Columbia

Formworks is a course taught at GSAPP, Columbia by my new formwork friend Joshua Draper (yes, it is a very cool last name these days, what?).
[JAJI Noise Continuum, via]

Since 2008 the studio class has hybridized methods of casting with digital fabrication
"The ambition is to challenge the repetitive nature of casting and formwork by developing a parametric, dynamic formworks system and produce a series of precast elements using that system. 

Organized around a series of short but intense assignments, students are introduced to 1 and 2 part molds, silicone casting, vacuforming, rotational molding and a variety of casting materials. Students respond with their own system which takes these techniques and systems of organization, assembly and fabrication further." Via

[JAJI is a project that investigates the role of the milling direction(s) in creating form and surface pattern. via]

JAJI project by students: Jennifer Chang, Aaron Berman, Juan Fransisco Saldarriaga, and Idan Naor.

See presentations of work by the Formworks classes: 

Flex Form by Allison Adderley

Building Matters is a blog compiled around the wonderful experimental thesis work of permanent, flexible formwork of Allison Adderley, architecture student at the University of Buffalo in the state of New York.
[Flex Form via]

"Typically, formwork is understood as a temporary building element, often being discarded and seen only as a construction tool, rarely a component of the final design.  This proposal explores the opportunity of employing formwork as a permanent building element, thus incorporating the formal elements inherent in building within the final form itself," Adderley states
[A very 'textile' formwork principle for a permanent formwork principle, "Flex Form" via]

Some of Adderley's formwork principles are permanent, and some 'just' leaves a permanent, formal consequence of the construction principles behind the formwork structure. I share this interest with Adderley in practices of molding and the relation between the mold and that which is molded. Basically, what I like to call 'formwork tectonics.'

Adderley introduces her abstract and theoretical references, Gottfried Semper, Kenneth Frampton, and Gework Hartoonian, and how she uses these theories. In this sense, find inspiration in the blog as a nice way to present rigorous, experimental and poetic work.

Semper's theories of the transformation of textile principles to methods of 'weaving' and 'dressing' facades are evident in the above experiment.

There is also a nice gallery of photos from a visit to the laboratory of CAST at the University of Manitoba. Adderley is obviously inspired by the work at CAST but has found her own way of investigating the roles of the fabric in formwork for concrete.
[Formwork detail, Series3 - Permanent Fabric (Suspension) via]
[Casting Series3 - Permanent Fabric (Suspension) via]

A goal in the abstract is to end the thesis work with a full scale cast, so more appears to come on the blog.
 Allison, I hope to see you at the ICFF2012 (World's Second International Conference of Fabric Formwork) in Bath, (UK) June 2012 :)