Justin DILES, "Plastic Stereotomy."
    austin TEXAS

    A total of 70 entries to TEX-FAB’s 2014 international digital fabrication competition, “Plasticity,” were reviewed by the first round jury on July 8th, 2014.

    Plasticity is the fourth competition offered by TEX-FAB and builds on our interest in connecting experimental design practices with industry partners. Regal Plastic is this year’s competition material sponsor and Kreysler & Associates is providing technical support on composite systems.

    The first round jury consisting of Benjamin Ball, Alvin Huang, Virginia San Fratello, Kenneth Tracy, Christine Yogiaman, and Joshua Zabel narrowed the pool down to 4 finalists and 5 honorable mentions. The finalists were chosen for their proposals innovative approach to composite manufacturing and potential contribution to the field of architecture.

    Entries were submitted from around the world, representing a broad range of ideas, making the final selection difficult. The jury noted the overall high quality of projects. In the end, they selected “Puff’D,” by Nels Long, Brennen Huller and Nikita Troufanov, “ViscoPlasty,” by Alexandra Singer-Bieder, Sofia Bennani and Agathe Michel, “Plastic Stereotomy,” by Justin Diles, and “Monolith Translucent Lattice,” by Vasily Sitnikov. Each finalist will be given a stipend of $1000 to develop prototypes that will be exhibited at the ACADIA: Design Agency conference at the University of Southern California in October 2014. The winning entry will be selected by the second round jury—Craig Dykers, Jeanne Gang, Bill Kreysler, Greg Lynn, and Roland Snooks—and announced at the conference.

    The winner will be a commissioned by TEX-FAB to build a full-scale version of their project through support of our fabrication and material partnerships. Once completed, the project will travel to Houston in the Spring of 2015, to be exhibited at the TEX-FAB 2015 conference hosted by the University of Houston.

    The first round jury had their work cut out for them. There were many strong contenders representing a range of approaches toward the theme plasticity and composite fabrication. Our initial competition brief asked for participants to consider plasticity through the design of an architectural proposal that engages materiality, the possibility of form, experience, and performative consequence. From advanced applications of arrested fluid materials to assemblies of components influenced by forces internal and external to a system, the definition of plasticity encompasses a broad spectrum in the lexicon of contemporary design.

    The competition also asked for projects that foreground the application of parametric design and digital fabrication in their design proposal. Composite material systems, casting, forming, 3D printing, fluid assemblies derived from sheet materials and even activated networks of robotic components were techniques to consider as potential building components in an architecture of plasticity.
    Though many techniques were well represented, the jury narrowed their selection down to projects that were both innovative and had the potential of accomplished resolution. Of ViscoPlasty, Kenneth Tracy and Christine Yogiaman noted, “the investment in previous research is evident and compelling making the increased scale of the proposal seem feasible. The heat welded surface has the most novelty and potential of variability.”

    And though the resolution of each project differed, they all promised a level of continuing research into unknown territory that the jurors found intriguing and full of potential. Alvin Huang was especially interested in the challenges proposed by Monolith Translucent Lattice. He noted that the project tackles “an original and novel fabrication method that explores what is arguably one of the most challenging design constraints in variable frame structures – the node.” Virginia San Fratello agreed, adding “the use of gelatin molds to make nodes offers a potential for making manifold connectors, structural surfaces, pipes and chambers, and offers a wide range of end products at potentially different scales.”

    Joshua Zabel was drawn to Plastic Stereotomy’s “formally compelling use of FRP,” wondering if “the fabrication tolerances and the manner of connection between courses” would be possible, and looking forward to how the “EPS foam as a finish material would be considered.” Alvin Huang also found the form interesting and the possibility of a “composite solution as a series of interlocking blocks that are determined by the interference between two overlapping patterns” a worthwhile study that might produce an “emergent process of figuration.”

    Finally, the jury agreed that Puff’d Composites offered a range of unique features that would benefit from additional research and full-scale prototyping. Huang was “intrigued by the formal articulation of the soft puffed interior vs. the interlocking seams of the hard shell.” Benjamin Ball applauded the project for being “one of the few that seriously explores the design and production of architecturally scaled components that function.” He added, “Puff’d expands the simple notion that seams are a border between separate panels to that of an interlocking mechanical connection that functions.”


    Monolith Translucent Lattice, Vasily Sitnikov
    Plastic Stereotomy, Justin Diles
    ViscoPlasty, Alexandra Singer-Bieder, Sofia Bennani and Agathe Michel
    Puff’D, Nels Long, Brennen Huller and Nikita Troufanov

    Pneusystems, Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thun/RVTR with Mary O’Malley, Eric Meyer, Nick Safley and Lars Junghans
    Snap It Up, Andreas Schönbrunner and Nicola Haberbosch
    Plastic Plastic, Peter Vikar, Erin Besler, Siim Tuksam and Eugene Kosgoron (under the supervision of Studio Instructor: Peter Testa with Brandon Kruysman and Jonathan Proto)
    Volatile Mutation, Alan Cation, Dustin Tisdale and Tim Henshaw-Plath
    Rigid Fibers, David Costanza

    TEX-FAB *Digital Fabrication Alliance Co-directors
    Bradley Bell (UT Arlington, Topocast)
    Kory Bieg (UT Austin, OTA+)
    Kevin McClellan (UTSA, A+DW)
    Andrew Vrana (University of Houston, Metalab)

    Regal Plastics, Material Support
    Kreylser & Associates, Fabrication Technical Support
    University of Houston, Competition Host Institution
    Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center, Innovation Grant
    Architects Newspaper, Media Partner

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