Plastic Flowers is a part of a series of research pavilions by op / Architecture Landscape that revisits the question of mass-production in architecture and questions the brick as building aggregation methodology, postulating a more figurative approach to creating the structural building unit. Repetition, in the workshop context, has been approached as the process by which the multiplication of an object, with certain properties, produces a whole. On the other hand replication has been studied as the process of multiplying an object while altering its properties to produce a whole. Consequently, by varying those properties of the replicable objects, one is able to explore multiple design solutions within a generated family of results. As such replication was able to generate adaptable systems which corresponded to certain design requirements. The processes of modernist repetition emblemized in the stack based brick project give way to tessellation and mass customization of the rapid prototyping devices such as 3-axis milling and 2 axis laser-cutting.
In the summer of 2015, with students from the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College of New York, we began the study of curved folding as a methodology of creating a volumetric structural unit from sheet material, requiring minimal fastening and maximum space. The pavilion is formed from 100 “petal” units each constructed from an individual piece of .0625” thick density polyethylene. Two petals each were cut from a 2’ x 4’ sheet and etched to .032” depth using a CNC 3 axis router. The figural arc groove contour is created with a V-Groove tool-bit that when folded forms the rigid structure of this “Petal brick.”
Geometrically, the petals each are contained within an octahedral bounding box which is locked to a geodesic grid around a sphere. The chosen geodesic grid is a triangulation of Goldberg’s Icoshedral Polyhedra of the 3rd order, featuring regular pentagons, and two six sided figures, one regular hexagon and one irregular. As a result of the tessellation, each octahedral and its contained petal, span from a hexagon to a hexagon or from the hexagon to the pentagon resulting in 2 unit types. Three petals, 2 hex units and 1 pent unit, join together at a half-lap joint using nylon socket bolt-screws, to form a cluster of three resembling a flower. Five flowers themselves come together to form a larger rose-component, using inner and outer brackets. This staged construction methodology of brick, cluster and larger component makes for easy transport to and from a deployment site, requiring only the 7 roses to be carried and snapped together. The Pavilion meets the ground utilizing custom half-units and feet designed to be scoop seating.
Conducted as design research wherein individual methodologies of folding were studied the studio came together following to focus, engineer and optimize one chosen design strategy for the construction of a shade enclosure and pavilion for a given architectural client. Upon concept selection, the team was divided into specializations to design and develop individual parts of the pavilion and construction process; including connections, foundation attachment, overall geometry for brick instantiation, milling logistics, geometric un-folding requirements, material ordering and scheduling.
he design challenged to pose a transversal approach to design by both engaging in bottom-up research while being conscious of a framework for unit aggregation and described engagement by a specific client. One of the most seminal and formative concepts discussed and utilized throughout the design and construction phase was the need for advancing of physical model and prototyping at various scales to advanced real-life physics understanding of the design principles.
Funded by the school of Architecture, the project resided shortly on the City College campus, and was gifted to New York City Parks and Recreation and now has been re-installed as a visitor pavilion at its home in Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island.