UCLA (Scott)



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    Studio Fun

    Scott Kepford
    Oct 9, '08 3:00 AM EST
    The nice studio space we're all crammed into

    School is now well underway, and though we’re a month behind basically every other architecture school (due to the quarter rather than semester schedule), I think we’re going to need to catch up pretty rapidly. In studio we’re working on a two week long intro project that seems common to architecture schools in some form or another. We’ve been prompted to construct a unit from thin sheet material (our section is working with 1/32” and 1/64” birch ply) that’s relatively simple in and of itself but allows complexity to emerge when the unit is agglomerated (driven by rule sets we’re meant to write) to fill an 18” x 18” x 18” volume. My unit is formed by laminated birch strips, with connections formed by the layers of lamination, which are open at the ends to overlap and pinch the neighboring piece into place. Alternating pieces curve out to form branching units that extend the structure. I’m now working on a ruleset that grows the structure outwards, like roots or lichen, that will hit the edges of the cube and layer back over the previous strands, creating an uneven strata.

    The early beginnings of accretion

    Detail of a unit and its joins

    I think I've developed the typical first year's obsession with the laser cutters. Hopefully it'll pass...

    The first year M.Arch I class is really huge (somewhere around 70-90 I think?) so the class has been split into four sections, each headed by a different instructor – Georgina Huljich (of Patterns), Jason Payne (of Gnuform and now Hirsuta), Judith Mussel, and Hadrian Predock. I don’t know much about backgrounds of the latter two, but they all seem very smart and invested in the progress of their students. My section has the delightfully hair-obsessed Jason Payne, to whom I’m very glad I was assigned as he’s offered really excellent critiques pushing work in just the right direction, and has been very supportive.

    We had a good crit with Jason and Hadrian on Monday

    I’m also in Jason’s tech seminar, called Basins of Attraction. Tech seminars are intensive studios based on exploring fabrication technologies. They’re apparently usually taken in the second year, but Jason let me in the course due to my previous experience working in Maya. I didn’t realize it was so weird for me to be in the course until several second years basically asked me “What were you thinking?” Not much of anything, apparently. But I’m really excited about the course and the project we’re undertaking, so I think it will go well regardless. The class focuses on deforming plastic surfaces with the two types of vacuum formers the AUD has. Apparently the new vacuum former can work with much thicker materials, even Corian, so the possibilities are very exciting. We’ll be attempting to use the fluid surface-making potential of the vacuum former to reinvigorate the staid washbasin fixture type. We’re drawing inspiration for the operations necessary to create basin shapes from catastrophe theory in math (specifically from Thom, Arnold, and Cheng Chit) – basically functions that create a surface that collapses and intersects itself. With this type of topology as a reference, the basin actually becomes a pretty complex object, where something as dynamic as water flows have to be considered in new ways. Anyway, I’m very excited about where we’re taking the project, and I’ll post more as we progress.

    One of the operations we drew from

    An early version of one of the basin types we're investigating

    My other two classes, the typically prosaic Structures I and Intro to Building Construction are actually very good; both instructors seem enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and take pains to make the material interesting to architecture students. The construction course should be enlivened by multiple site visits; next week we’re checking out a few construction projects and touring Arup LA’s office.

    All in all, the makings of an exciting first quarter. But check back to see how I feel at finals. If I’m still “excited” instead of ready to slice anyone within stumbling distance of my desk, I’ll buy you a coke. Otherwise, I guess you get sliced.

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