Can you be an architect without having built anything with your own hands? You can, but I don’t think it is a good idea. While working towards becoming an architect, I am appreciating the time spent on my project in the makeLab. I have learned how to 3-dimensionally model my project using Rhinoceros (a nurbs modeling software) with a plug-in called Grasshopper. I was then able to take those models, physically print them on the 3D printer and build them on the ShopBot CNC as scaled down prototypes and as a full-scale installation. This is a process I have never experienced until now.
Modeling with Grasshopper: By lofting curves and connecting points along them I was able to develop the form of the Arch.
Modeling with Rhinoceros: After making the Grasshopper geometry into Rhino geometry I used Rhino to break down the arch and explore how it could be built.
Prototypes on the 3D printer: The 3D printer was an amazing tool to use. In just a few hours I had a physical model in my hand that I was trying to visualize using Rhino. I was able to photograph the model and then sketch directly on them to further develop ideas on how to construct the arch at a larger scale.
Prototypes on the CNC: When I started prototyping on the CNC I tried double milling to create individual beams that would be combined to make the arch. After that idea was exhausted, I revisited the sketches and 3D print and came up with another way to construct the arch. This method involved layers that interlocked with the outer most support; the skewer. This worked!
Full Scale on the CNC: At full scale I had to rethink the arch again. I developed a method of milling components that would create large X beams (similar to the layers used in the prototype). By laying out all the components on the computer in Rhino I was able to use as little plywood as possible. I placed each part within one bit width of each other and tacked each part down with screws. The result is a set of RhinoCAM files that can be run on nine sheets of plywood to build one arch. Here’s hoping everything will come together as planned.
By Ellen Rotter