• deferentialCONSTRUCTIONS

    ann arbor MICHIGAN

    Taubman College, University of Michigan
    critics: Matias del CAMPO (Eliel Saarinen Visiting Professor) & Adam FURE

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Harold SPRAGUE SOLIE, Ning ZHOU, Mark WRIGHT, & Bennett SCORCIA: deferentialCONSTRUCTIONS takes its cue from the phenomenon known as Apophenia, which is the perceiving of meaningful patterns in seemingly random or meaningless data. If used advantageously, apophenia can allow for multiple readings within a single spatial environment. The project attempts to leverage a basic architectural proto-condition to test out the implications and possibilities inherent within this phenomenon.

    The goal is to create a system which, by oscillating between complete control and a total lack of control, allows its users to interpret their environment in a variety of ways. The architectural proto-condition at play is the aperture and the construction pedagogy is that of a panelized wall system.

    Running in parallel is an ambition to use parametric design software and large scale fabrication technologies to create systems of control that maximize output while minimizing input. The idea is to develop simple design methodologies which are able to generate complex outcomes through the use of emerging fabrication technologies. Embedding within this logic is the notion that the designer is removed from the final representation. By taking control of the final outcome away from the designer, the user is free to create his own realities and fictions through an apophenic response to an amorphous environment.

    To accomplish these goals the work has utilized parametric design software as well as emerging technologies such as 5-axis robotic milling for fabrication. In order to generate an aperture within a solid mass, the 5-axis robot utilizes what is called a “swarf” cut. This particular cut operation uses hyperbolic geometries and needs only a top and bottom curve diameter in order to generate a boolean operation. At this point computational design strategies were utilized to randomly generate top and bottom curves which would then be fed to the fabrication software in order to generate hyperbolics. Through these efforts a minimum amount of parametric modeling was needed in order to generate aperture rich architectural prototypes.

    By leveraging emerging technologies the final construction achieves its goal of oscillation between control and a lack of control. First, the system is controlled through the implementation of a base grid for panelization; next, system control is relaxed through randomized hyperbolic generation and aperture creation. Finally, control is fed back into the system through the manipulation of panel edge conditions to allow for an aggregation that is completely independent of control.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    HSS, NZ, MW, & BS: As mentioned above, the project was heavily influenced by the phenomenon known as Apophenia, a term coined by Klaus Conrad in 1958 to describe “unmotivated seeing of connections.” Additionally, as the work progressed we became increasingly interested in designing “systems” instead of designing “objects.” Specifically influential was the “idea of a system as a whole and the idea of a generating system” as defined by Christopher Alexander in Computational Design Thinking.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    HSS: A playlist full of Imagine Dragons, William Fitzsimmons and Goodwill & Hook N Sling goes a long way to getting through late nights in the shop. Also, as part of our preliminary research we read essays by (among others) Sanford Kwinter, John Rajchman, Sylvia Lavin and excerpts from Atlas of Novel Tectonics by Reiser and Umemoto.
    NZ: The albums by some independent bands from Taiwan such as Candy Floss, Coffee with Milk.
    MW: Albums by Ellie Goulding, Lindsey Stirling, The XX and Stereo Alchemy were often on repeat during this project. When working with the scripting elements of the project I would often re-watch tutorials over at In addition to our research for this class that has been already mentioned, I was reading work by Mario Carpo and Steven Johnson in preparation for our Thesis this upcoming semester.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    HSS: Heather Roberge, Höweler + Yoon, Achim Menges and Greg Lynn are constants for me but I am always on the hunt for firms/people who are leveraging emerging technologies and materials in exciting ways.
    NZ: Some artists working between material and immaterial such as Bernhard Leitner.
    MW: I am currently looking at research by Achim Menges as well as Mark West’s work from C.A.S.T at University of Manitoba.

    Additional credits and links:
    HSS: Following is a link to my blog which has much more information on this project and also other work being done at Taubman College. See: designHUSTLE.

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