Eclectic Curiosity

Posted on May 30th, 2003, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

It’s an odd intersection of architecture, molecular biology, mathematics, art, interior design and metalwork – with implications that this Metropolis article, Bend the Rules of Structure, contends could literally shape the future. Profiling a company called Milgo/Bufkin and their method for folding a single sheet of metal into complex and elaborate forms called AlgoRhythms, the article suggests that this little known recipe of formulae could eventually lead to “self-growing”, organic and maleable buildings. “There’s a whole new body of shapes and forms that have come out of his work that allows us to do things that have never been seen before. It’s opened up the design palette enormously.”

Whether or not Lalvani’s AlgoRhythms are the first pillars of a self-constructing citadel, they have immediate potential to structural engineers like Vincent DeSimone, whose firm has worked on a number of Gehry buildings. “If you take a piece of steel and bend it, it gets an inherent strength out of the geometry of the bend,” DeSimone says. “A lot of times when you want to make a warped surface in metal you literally have to stretch it. Lalvani’s algorithms have given you a method where, by folding along perforations, the metal is never stretched.” The distinction between AlgoRhythms and the sculptural steel surfaces of Gehry’s building, DeSimone says, is that “Gehry’s is a free-form surface; Haresh’s is a 3-D solids model.” At Gehry’s new Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, at Bard College, for example, the undulating stainless-steel roof functions as a rain and snow shield, but the load is carried by a series of ribs underneath–the “real roof,” as DeSimone puts it. With Lalvani’s technique, in theory an entire building could be made of load-bearing folded metal. … [T]his is an entire system for generating infinitely variable form. Like Fuller before him, he cleaves to the idea that when science begins to mimic nature at a molecular level, it moves into a realm outside of fashion.

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