Modular Variations — Prototype II: Instrumental Variation

Design Research & Installation, 2013
Ralph Rapson Hall, University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota

This installation was constructed as part of the Modular Variations design studio taught by Adam Marcus at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture in spring 2013. The studio built upon an ongoing research project into role of variation in design and fabrication processes (see Modular Variations — Prototype I), with a focus on developing innovative approaches to reconfigurable and/or flexible formwork. 

The studio's research culminated in a full-scale wall prototype that consists of 66 structurally repetitive yet individually unique cast concrete modules. The custom-fabricated molds incorporate a flexible latex bladder that provides a controlled means for producing variable apertures in the cast modules. Incrementally rotating the mold’s hexagonal faces increases the twist of the internal bladder, and the resulting void in the cast module decreases in size. This adjustability allows for reliable and rather precise modulation of the aperture’s radius, yet of course the material performance of the concrete as it cures within the latex bladder maintains a degree of unpredictability and geometric variation from one module to the next.

Throughout the process, parametric design and digital fabrication tools were strategically leveraged to iterate in form finding, generating fabrication instructions, and directing the assembly sequence of the wall. A constant feedback between physical testing and digital modeling enabled an integrated approach to computation in which the technology is used to augment an architectural agenda rather than determine it. 

The work of the studio is documented in a digital publication (embedded below) that describes the project in detail and includes extensive process work.

Project Credits: 
Modular Variations Design Studio
Bachelor of Design in Architecture Program, Spring 2013, University of Minnesota School of Architecture
Instructor: Adam Marcus
Elizabeth Adler, Sam Anderson, Holly Hodkiewicz, Emmett Houlihan, Erik Jackson, Thomas Kuhl, Adam Lucking, Jonathan Meyer, Nick Mosser, Elliot Olney, Jorie Schmidt, Alicia Smith, Christine Stoffel, Christopher Tallman, Rythm Unnown, Sharanda Whittaker