Cristina Nan (Lecturer in Architectural Design and Digital Fabrication) explains the background to the project and how the students created their sculpture.

Students studying on our ‘Design Thinking and Digital Crafting’ elective have put together a large-scale parametric installation in the staircase of Minto House. The elective, part of ESALA’s Digital Pathway, focusses on aspects of computational design and digital fabrication. The elective is open to architecture students, 2nd year, BA/MA.

The elective teaches methods and technologies of digital design and fabrication and their expressed implementation in architecture and construction. Projects and assignments enable students to develop design concepts and realise small and large-scale prototypes using diverse sets of techniques. They follow hybrid approaches, combining craft and computation. Our students develop competences in complex design and production of challenging architectural outputs. These outputs — objects, installations or proto-structures — have to fit within an individually determined narrative or conceptual theme.

The installation was suspended from the second floor to the ground floor
Image: Cristina Nan
The installation was suspended from the second floor to the ground floor

For this proto-structure, students analysed a set of different case studies, from pre-digital parametric approaches to computational ones - Antoni Gaudi, Frei Otto, Marc Fornes and Softlab served as inspirational models.

Cristina Nan, Lecturer in Design and Digital Fabrication

For this proto-structure, which extends over two floors in the staircase, students analysed a set of different case studies, from pre-digital parametric approaches to computational ones — Antoni Gaudi, Frei Otto, Marc Fornes and Softlab served as inspirational models. By making use of parametric tools, our students started the project by creating a minimal surface, which was then subdivided into flat components to enable a quick construction and assembly. The different panels are connected to one another by stapling them together. The opening within the proto-structure is aligned with the large staircase window, thus allowing light to come in.

 

The proto-structure in process
Image: Cristina Nan
The proto-structure in process
The sculpture in its construction phase
Image: Cristina Nan
The sculpture in its construction phase

The proto-structure has been named BLACKOUT, after the recent power shortage experienced around the ECA campus, the weekend before its installation. Nonetheless, this did not discourage our students and they found creative ways of working around this, managing to finalise the assembly of the structure.


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