WikiHouse – the open source house

CNC mill a livable house.

WikiHouse is a new project trying to make house construction open source. With WikiHouse anyone could download plans to CNC mill and assemble a house. The system relies on standard 2440mm x 1220mm (8′ x 4′) 18mm plywood. Besides a CNC mill, you only need basic hardware and hand tools. The plans can be altered in Google Sketchup and new designs can be offered back to the community.
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Curved folding construction techniques

New ways of getting beyond 2D
Curved fold by Yoshinobu Miyamoto
One of the things I love about digital fabrication is the process of elevating 3D forms from 2D materials. “2D materials” – anything that comes in a sheet – have all kinds of inherent efficiencies in terms of modelling, manufacturing, transport, and assembly, but it takes a certain amount of mental gymnastics to translate them into 3D objects. I stumbled across this image today and it opened up a fascinating new world for me – a construction technique known as curved folding. (more…)

Surreal 3d Architecture mods

Skylines and streetscapes in fantastical transformation

For Victor Enrich, the built environment is a conceptual playground where the imagination roams free.

An expert in 3d architectural visualization, these striking compositions show local (mostly in Tel Aviv, Israel) landmarks bursting from within the confines of their rectilinear and physical law-abiding realities.

The process involves taking photographic studies of the target building, and then constructing 3d models which are manipulated to become one with the original image.   (more…)

Pop-up architecture

Making a building appear from a flat sheet of paper.

Occasionally I like post an unusually good example of transforming 2D material into a 3D form. Laser cutting is wonderful technology, but it is restricted to two dimensions, and it can be extremely difficult to push a project into the third dimension.

While I don’t think these pop-up buildings from Shimizu laboratory were laser cut, they do show an elegantly simply method of creating volume from a flat sheet.

Keep reading past the jump for more beautiful examples.
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World’s largest wooden structure

Slots and grooves on a truly grand scale

Looking like something from the dreams (or nightmares?) of the guys at SketchChair, this enormous $162 million pavilion in Spain is a sight to behold.

It’s the Metropol Parasol, designed by Jurgen Mayer H. Architects for the historic medieval district of the city of Seville. Towering above an archeological museum, the world’s largest wooden structure also houses restaurants, shops and tourist facilities. Eager sightseers can even access the canopy via a winding terrace that offers spectacular views of the city.

Click through for more from Fernando Alda and David Franck’s collection of striking images. (more…)

Model Builder

Heritage buildings preserved as miniatures

A few weeks ago I wrote about the 50th anniversary of the Futuna chapel in Wellington.  Ponoko lasercut the commemorative scale models of the building for the event, so we were very curious to know how it all happened because let’s face it, we don’t have many old interesting buildings in New Zealand, so this is a pretty big deal.  Surprisingly (because “astonishingly” may sound too dramatic) the ball started rolling because of a passersby curiosity.  The passer-by was Tony Richardson, and Futuna was the place he was passing by.

Tony’s visit to the chapel made a big impression on him as he struggled to understand “how the building worked, in particular how the lines of the roof planes related to the internal central pole and valley beams.”  His examination of the plans and photos was of little help, so he resorted to his kiwi bloke approach of wood+shed+tools.  All the marking and sawing resulted in a pile of wasted materials, rather than a beautiful model, so Tony started looking for a less painful way to make mistakes via an online laser cutting service.  It just so happened that Ponoko was mentioned in the business section of the national news.  Needless to say, the ball started rolling.

More about Tony’s fabbing under the cut: (more…)

The Model Chapel

You can get your hands on the Futuna model.

On Monday Ponoko staff were invited on a special guided tour of the Futuna chapel that celebrated its 50th anniversary just over a week ago.  It’s certainly a special place, and we felt privileged that the Friends of Futuna Trust chair Nick Bevin took time to show us around.

We found out that twenty out of the fifty scale models were assembled on the day, which was quite an achievement, considering the model’s complexity.  One of the models was presented to the visiting renowned Australian architect Richard Leplastier.

The Futuna models are available for purchase from Nick Bevin (bevanvic[at]clear[dot]net[dot]nz).  The limited edition boxed model complete with certificate of authenticity will be one of the only fifty made.  Alternatively, you’d like a fun challenge, you can try your hand at model making and purchase of the flat self-assembly packs which are limited to 25.  These kits include packaging complete with glue, assembly jig and assembly instructions.

Celebrating an Architectural Icon

Lasercut scale models of the Futuna chapel commemorate its 50th anniversary

New Zealand has no lack of natural beauty, but when it comes to built environments, there is a distinct deficit of heritage value.  Wellington’s Futuna chapel, hidden away in suburbia, has been described by architects as “New Zealand’s most significant building of the 20th century.”  The dignified sculptural splendour of this structure betrays its underprivileged history.  Futuna was born from unskilled labour, and in its fifty years of existence has been subjected to neglect, theft and disregard by those responsible for its surroundings.

In 2010, Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust approached Ponoko about creating commemorative models of the chapel to celebrate its 50th anniversary, which took place last weekend.  Over several months, the plywood model and its plinth/box were prototyped and continuously refined in Inkscape.  Tony Richardson – the model’s designer, specified 4mm Eurolite Poplar which is a low density, fast cutting ply.  The final order was for fifty individually numbered kits to be assembled by the visitors to the chapel during the anniversary celebrations.

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Ten Best Articles on Architecture

Best of the Blog 2010 – Architecture

There are few professions that are truly able to challenge conventions and shape our world in quite the same way that Architecture does. A big part of this is how architects use the technologies available to them – often pushing the boundaries in new and exciting ways.

Click through for our top Architecture highlights from the Ponoko blog.

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Laser Cutting Sugar. It Doesn’t Really Work.

learning from your isomalten mistakes

Seattle Food Geek recently posted an equally amusing and interesting article on the not-so-successful attempts of Seattle resident Scott to create a scale model of the Seattle Central Library from a sheet of sugar.

The article begins:
“I had this grand idea for a “gingerbread” house this year: a scale replica of the Seattle Central Library building – one of the few modern architectural landmarks of our city, and a magnificently example of complicated geometry. I planned on making the whole thing out of sugar, since the library building has an all-glass exterior.

And, to top things off, I was going to laser-cut all of the pieces I needed, since the project clearly wasn’t geeky enough to begin with.

Instead, I ended up with this 6” spiral staircase. Let’s review what happened…”

You really should check it out.

Well, they both sort of lean the same way…