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Smartgeometry 2013

April 16, 2013
A view of the parametric model I created to dial in the design parameters for our waffle panel fabrication.

A view of the parametric model I created to dial in our waffle panel fabrication.

We are two days into Smartgeometry’s sg2013 hosted this year by The Bartlett, Faculty of the Built Environment in London. This is my second Smartgeometry conference, an annual event that turns the traditional industry meeting on its head with four days of intensive “workshop” followed by two days of invited speakers, or “talkshop.” Within the workshop, the “clusters,” are the key. They are highly competitive both to teach (or “champion” in Smartgeometry parlance) and to attend.

This year I am participating in the Adaptive Structural Skins cluster championed by Dan Piker, well known for his Grasshopper plugin, Kangaroo; Gregory Epps, founder of RoboFold; and a triumvirate of folks from p.art, AKT’s parametric research group, led Daniel Bosia.

The Adaptive Structural Skins Team at Work

The Adaptive Structural Skins Team hard at work

My particular sub-unit of this team is working heavily with Greg Epps and Jeroen Janssen of AKT.  We’re exploring parametric folding and structural analysis through the construction of a waffle folded panel of interlocking elements.  I am constructing a parametric model of the design, which we are adjusting to get jusssst right.  The model will be used in structural analysis, then flattened for cutting the aluminum panels from sheet stock, and finally, as the control path for the robots at RoboFold that will fold the sheets.  It is a fascinating and intensive four day look at the current state-of-the-art in digital fabrication.

Dan Piker provides a little initial inspiration with a truss structure expanded into place with metal measuring tape struts.

Dan Piker provides a little initial inspiration with a truss structure expanded into place with metal measuring tape struts.

I arrived in London a week early.  It has been a jam-packed few weeks of interleaved professional visits and a bit of sightseeing. In addition to the conference, highlights have included finally meeting my friend Arthur van der Harten in person. Arthur, creator of the Pachyderm acoustic plugin for Grasshopper, is now with Foster + Partners’ Specialist Modelling Group. I also had the opportunity to spend two days in Volker Mueller’s Generative Components workshop last week. Today I met with Michael Weinstock of the Architectural Association School for a quick coffee and discussion of architectural emergence

So much for the work part. The in-between spaces have been filled with some lovely sightseeing,  including my first visits to Sir John Soane’s historic house museum, the National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory in Greenwich.  Just the right kind of sight-seeing for a solar geek like me!

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