Sphere With Nested Figures

Selected for OBJECTS Exhibition
Center for American Architecture and Design
University of Texas at Austin, School of Architecture


Sphere With Nested Figures is an object that explores the contingency between how things are made and how they appear in the world. The object consists of a single globe that is made of twelve identical parts. The standardized, star-shaped panels tile repetitively around the sphere, but this regular tessellation is subverted by a carefully designed relief pattern that is molded into each panel. The variable rotation of each five-pronged panel allows the relief pattern to form larger figures and shapes which extend beyond the panel boundary and wrap around the sphere. Surface ornament in the form of texture and color both serve to reinforce the relief pattern logic, thereby reinforcing the object’s ambiguity between part and whole.

As technologies of computational design and digital fabrication have permeated architectural practice, formal languages of continuous, parametric differentiation in many regards now define the status quo. This project is deeply enmeshed in computational modes of design and production, but it nonetheless takes a critical approach to the unfettered mass-customization that is now ubiquitous in contemporary architecture. Instead, the project insists on a more rigorous and nuanced production of difference, whereby variable effects and geometries are produced through intelligent approaches to pattern, repetition, and standardized components. Sphere With Nested Figures seeks to articulate a middle ground between pure objecthood and total differentiation, exploring the overlaps, tangencies, and resonances between the two. 

The project’s logics of repetition and variation are rooted in its logics of material, fabrication, and assembly. Sphere with Nested Figures insists on this contingency, resisting certain contemporary movements towards (or resurgences of) formal autonomy from material concerns. Parameters of assembly such as tolerance, joinery, and seams become part of the aesthetic and not something to be ignored or suppressed. Moments of risk within the process of fabrication become opportunities for controlled unpredictability, opening up new possibilities for craft in the age of computation and digital fabrication. 


Project Credits:
Design & Fabrication: Adam Marcus, Sean Gentry, Frederico Leite Gonçalves