Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
critics: Ulrika KARLSSON & Maj PLEMENITAS.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Yiwei LI, Yunchao TANG, & Anabelle Maria VIEGAS: Can we 3-D print a city? . . . The research project LOOP experiments with clay to produce what the designers believe could be the “New Vernacular.”
The architects, Annabelle Viegas, Yiwei Li, and Yunchao Tang use a material as basic as clay, reimagining its relevance. Clay has being used as a building material from around 7000 B.C., with myriad variations to form and function through the centuries—humans have fired it, dried it, used it as a binding agent or plastering agent, and so on.
The project LOOP deals with understanding the ambiguities and incongruities of materialization of design, and with how the use of “control interface” mathematical processes present a new methodology of construction in clay.
The final output is a low-cost, sustainable system of construction that aims to provide a viable and contemporary perspective on the use of vernacular materials. Project research in Brazil around Manaus—land in constant flux, in terms of material movement—influences the regional ecosystem to modify, change, replicate, evolve and morph while blending, adapting, and creating a new arrangement.
Testing all the available materials at a molecular level, the designers created a composite material that encompasses the key properties of clay—with slight interventions provided for the addition and subtraction of certain properties.
The final output: a clay composite that can be extruded to produce something as small as a table (the scale of an object), to a wall (architectural scale), or to something as vivid as a city (urban scale). The key to the design is the testing of behavioral patterns for material composites via both digital simulations and physical material experiments. This recursive design methodology adopts and adapts between physical and digital outputs, allowing for a more intrinsic and vibrant physical product.
The process of construction follows a simple and effective system of laying out porous scaffoldings on-site. Each scaffold is specifically designed with varying points of control, brought about through the variations in porosity. The base layer, working as a material distribution unit, produces the playful, vivid, and spectacular finished product when it is fed with layers of clay composite. Each porous unit, acting like a single extruder, “evolves” the raw composite material into a delicate individual element or structure—each adding its own detailed flavor to produce the whole object.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
YL, YT, & AMV: Ulrika Karlsson and Maj Plemenitas.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
YL, YT, & AMV: Reading: Bruno Latour, “Atmosphère, Atmosphère”; A. Chauvel, Y. Lucas, and R. Boulet “On the genesis of the soil mantle of the region of Manaus, Central Amazonia, Brazil,”; and T. Altan, “Sand, Sand Additives, Sand Properties, and Sand Reclamation.”
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
YL, YT, & AMV: N/A.