c-LITH: Carbon Fiber Architectural Units

May 23rd, 2014

c-LITH is the reconsideration of the architectural building unit through the exploration of new composite techniques and materials. Our project develops individual components that exploit the strength, lightness, and variability possible with carbon fiber filaments when paired with computation, digital fabrication, and hand assembly.

Traditionally, architectural units made of brick or concrete are small and multiple, heavy, difficult to vary, and are much better in compression than tension. Using carbon fiber filaments to create variable units allows for larger individual units that can vary in both shape and structural performance as needed. Our units, pound for pound, have higher capacities in both compression and tension and therefore impact the design in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions. Most importantly, however, our units address the use of carbon fiber at the scale of architectural production.

The images below are of the project installed @ the Taubman College Liberty Annex Gallery as part of the Research Through Making Exhibit, March 12 – April 20, 2014.

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PROJECT TEAM
DESIGN: Glenn Wilcox and Anca Trandafirescu
FABRICATION AND ASSEMBLY: Glenn Wilcox, Anca Trandafirescu, Megha Chandrasekhar, Troy Hillman, Secil Taskoparan, Rebecca Braun, Ryan Mason, Sam Seeger, Peter Choi, Chris Pine and John Larmor
FUNDING: Grant from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan

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FLYING CARPET | Awarded Again!

May 23rd, 2014

We received a Special Mention from the Architizer A+ Awards 2014 in the Architecture + Learning category for our ‘Flying Carpet’ project. The official listing can be found on the Architizer website. You have to scroll down to the bottom – we are listed under Special Mentions. Unfortunately no images shown here, but this mention is a big deal for us as Architizer receives thousands of entries from hundreds of countries and has a top notch jury – so we are quite jazzed about this international recognition for our little project.

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CARBON FIBER BAKING OVEN

May 23rd, 2014

We are currently conducting a research project on the use of pre-preg carbon fiber filament for the production of variable architectural building units. This required the design and construction of a baking oven. As the pre-preg only needs to be baked at a low 265 degrees Fahrenheit we could use infrared lamps as our heat source. The exterior dimension of the oven is 4′x4′x8′ and is constructed from a steel tube frame. Roxul is used as insulation with diamond mesh serving as the interior walls of the oven and concrete tile board the floor. The exterior is clad in OSB. Six Nutone heat lamp fixtures were used to hold the twelve 250w infrared lamps. We later discovered we needed to add eight more lamps to acquire the proper temperature. These were affixed to the oven ceiling with simple off the shelf ceramic fixtures. It was decided to run the two sides of the oven on separate circuits as it allowed us to run it from a 120v power source – this also proved useful as during one bake we lost a relay for one side of the oven and were able to maintain temperature by just using the working side. The temperature is regulated by a PID controller from Auber Instruments. Construction images and parts baking image below:

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PROJECT TEAM
DESIGN: Glenn Wilcox
FABRICATION: Glenn Wilcox, Troy Hillman and Megha Chandrasekhar
PHOTOS: Glenn Wilcox and Megha Chandrasekhar

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FLYING CARPET | Awarded

May 23rd, 2014

We received a 2013 AIA Honor award from the Huron Valley AIA for our ‘Flying Carpet’ project (shown below,) in the Small Projects/Low Budget category.

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FLYING CARPET | Installed

September 18th, 2013

Pictures of the flying carpet project installed and in use — from the first week of school. See post below this one for a full description of the project and the process of its fabrication.

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PROJECT TEAM
DESIGN: Glenn Wilcox and Anca Trandafirescu
MODEL FABRICATION: Jake Newsum and Secil Taskoparan
FABRICATION: Glenn Wilcox, Troy Hillman, Megha Chandrasekhar and Anca Trandafirescu
PHOTOS: Glenn Wilcox and Troy Hillman

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FLYING CARPET | Fabrication

September 16th, 2013

The Flying Carpet is a piece of microarchitecture that converts a long, narrow volume of space in Angell Elementary School into a reading, writing, lounging, and play space for the children occupants of the building. Located on the second floor among the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms, the Flying Carpet was designed to retain the existing programmatic uses of the space but give them beautiful and lively accommodation. Folk stories in many cultures tell of a mythical flying carpet that transport their riders to distant places faster than the wind. Recalling these stories from our own childhood, the flying carpet became the apt poetic metaphor for the space’s primary activities: reading, writing, and imagining… the fastest ways we know to travel elsewhere.

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The computer script we wrote to generate the final form for the piece had to be able to produce widely varying sectional shapes, but also had to conform precisely to children’s body dimensions. Once written, we then could input conditional statements to control the table, bench, lounge, and variable “bump” heights.

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Our early variations explored the use of double curved surfaces and alternative leg supports.

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The final design responds to particular site conditions and utilizes the curvature and “landing” of the surface for self-support in addition to steel legs which follow the same geometry of the surface.

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Since we were also going to be the fabricators on the project we made a series of scale models to study and refine the geometry in greater detail, and also to understand the process of fabrication and assembly of the final full scale piece.

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For ease of fabrication, transport, and assembly, the final design is divided into seven sections. The steel support legs also serve a secondary role of joining the sections to each other.

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Each section is broken down into smaller elements which overlap to create a stronger bonding surface. Dowel holes are drilled in each part to facilitate alignment and rapid assembly.

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We developed cut sheets for CNC and Water-Jet cutting of both the wood and steel elements. It’s important to note that these were output directly from a 3D model to cutting files – no construction documents were made for the project.

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After CNC machining, elements are laid out in order prior to assembly. Sections are glued and clamped in stages.

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Parts are cleaned and sanded prior to section assembly.

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Final sanding and finishing of one of the sections.

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PROJECT TEAM
DESIGN: Glenn Wilcox and Anca Trandafirescu
MODEL FABRICATION: Jake Newsum and Secil Taskoparan
FABRICATION: Glenn Wilcox, Troy Hillman, Megha Chandrasekhar and Anca Trandafirescu
PHOTOS: Glenn Wilcox and Troy Hillman

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SUCKER PUNCH DAILY | LUMANOTUS

September 16th, 2013

The project LUMANOTUS was recently published on the Sucker Punch Daily blog. Check it here.

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PROCESS BOOK

September 16th, 2013

Four area.architecture projects are featured in the new book PROCESS, edited by Ulf Mejergren and Anders Berensson with Pyo Miyoung and published by Damdi. In addition, we discusses our design process and the use of scripting, parametrics, and fabrication technologies in relation to the rubric of variability and non-standard means of production. If you want to pony up the steep $250 to purchase the 7 volume tome – or just peek inside – click here. The projects featured are LUMANOTUS, AVA Lights, tetra | N, and CUTWORK.

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MODELS LOOKING AT MODELS

September 16th, 2013

Some of our work was featured – well for two seconds at least – in a new advertising spot for U of M. Happens between 46 – 48 seconds. Don’t blink! We have no idea who these admirers of our work are. The spot can be viewed here.

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CARBON FIBER LIGHTS

September 16th, 2013

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PROJECT TEAM:
DESIGN: Anca Trandafirescu and Glenn Wilcox
FABRICATION: Anca Trandafirescu, Glenn Wilcox and Troy Hillman
PHOTOS: Glenn Wilcox and Anca Trandafirescu

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