Zina working in on her card mock-ups

31.03.15 | designing formwork

Day three of the RCA / AA Visiting School has been written up by Stephen, a graduate of the Bartlett School of Planning.

The windy Tuesday morning gave rise to a day of formwork prototyping for the roof tiles. Having clustered into groups each looking at different approaches, we went about developing a method of mass-producing roof tiles. Although quite different in each of our approaches, common to all was an attempt to embody elements of the wider project into the design of the tiles.

Most of these approaches centred on the ability to re-use the off cuts from the timber lattice structure produced thus far. These offcuts, being a by-product of the CNC milling process, benefit from being sustainable, in their re-use of material; cheap, in their availability at no additional cost and; aesthetic, in their embodiment of existing geometry from the lattice structure. Other approaches attempted to express a theme of sound, to reflect the musical nature of the structure and; embody the texture of the tree from which the wood came, by taking imprints from the bark of the trees onto the face of the tiles. Different tile surface textures were also experimented with by using various materials such as bubble-wrap and canvas.

Having prepared sample tiles for each of the approaches (using the clay gathered from H G Matthews the previous day), individuals presented their prototypes in the afternoon to Clem and Guan. Following these discussions, the various methods were consolidated into three approaches to pursue for further development: a method which will use the robotic arm to layer clay onto raw offcuts to produce a texture similar to crossed fingers; a subtlety undulating rectangular tile following the same angle as the lattice structure and; a herring bone pattern of tile arrangement, to mimic the herringbone pattern of the wood that will floor the final building. These groups will aim to produce several batches of tiles with various finishes the following day, which can then be assembled in order to investigate how they might fit together.

As we sat down for another delicious dinner, the 3D printer was at work to produce a nozzle for the robotic arm to dispense clay from, to produce the tiles for the group pursuing the crossed fingers pattern.