Accepted paper:

Free-form: making double curvature architecturally possible

Author:

Rachael Luck (Open University)

Paper short abstract:

The free-form shapes found in nature and Frei Otto's structures provide inspiration for many architects and make double-curvature a desirable design characteristic. We will study just how they work with shape and form in plywood that is curved in two directions, to make a curve out of a line.

Paper long abstract:

The free-form shapes that abound in nature and the elegant geometry of Frei Otto's gridshell structures provide inspiration for many architects and make double-curvature a desirable design characteristic. Just how they produce and work with shape and form that is curved in two directions, as we shall see, involves the manipulation of linear strips of plywood, thereby making a curve out of a line. They explore design possibilities, working with the different qualities of ply when it is wet, damp and as it is physical properties change when drying out. In this way they work with time, as the process of evaporation is a quotient in the malleability of the material. Then there is the challenge of deformation and impermanence: how to fix and retain these materials in this shape [to set this form], which is overcome by interleaving layers of ply and stitching them in place. Seeing how this happens, through exploratory actions and dexterous practices improvising with materials to produce novel form, suggests a way of working that is different from the notion of design intent.

panel P062
Design Anthropology: Uniting experience and imagination in the midst of social and material transformation