In October of last year, we reported that the parametric design concept Cast Thicket had been selected as the winning entry of APPLIED: Research Through Fabrication competition. Over the past 4 months, the winning designers Christine Yogiaman and Ken Tracy have further developed their proposal in collaboration with TEX-FAB, and now Cast Thicket is complete and installed in the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Architecture Gallery.
The competition chose to focus concertedly on the topic of applied research involving parametric modeling and digital fabrication – or better computational fabrication. There is no standard of how the technology is developed or no singular focus on how it will impact the design process or the construction of buildings. And yet there is growing evidence the application is quickly evolving in a variety of unique directions. From novel geometries and innovative structures to improved material and environmental performance, it is clear there is a focused agenda towards a more rigorous implementation of the digital toolset.
A total of 68 entries representing 17 countries on 4 continents were narrowed down by the first round jury consisting of Gil Akos, Billie Faircloth, Jonathon Mallie, Ronnie Parsons and Jason Vollen who convened in the spring of 2012. The Continuing Research finalists: SPIN-Valence by Emily Baker, FAB POD by Jane Burry and Nicholas Williams, and the Speculative Proposal finalists: Cast Thicket by Christine Yogiaman and Ken Tracy and Latent Methods by Eli Allen were funded with $1000 stipend provided by TEX-FAB for the production of a working prototype to be exhibited and juried at the ACADIA 2012, Synthetic Digital Ecologies conference in San Francisco (previously on Bustler).
The second round and final jury, Nader Tehrani, Andrew Kudless, Branko Kolarevic, and Vlad Tenu, convened to deliberate over the proposals that were exhibited in the expansive nave of the California College of the Arts building. As the jury deliberated a clear choice arose, Cast Thicket, receiving all around agreement from the jury that it in the words of Branko Kolarevic, developed ‘geometry that is compelling’. Vlad Tenu, winner of the previous competition with Minimal Complexity whose work was exhibited at the University of Houston College of Architecture added, ’I think the principal is really good’. Andrew Kudless’ suggestion that at this stage the work was a ‘proto-prototype’ or in Nader Tehrani’s words is in a state of ‘pre-mock-up mock-up’, the jury concluded it needed additional work and would ’benefit from another series of iterations’, per Branko Kolarevic. Strong opinions resounded in favor of the proposal with Nader Tehrani stating ’that Cast Thicket is the only one I would be interested in seeing in that context’, given the overall goals of the competition brief, he continued, ‘I believe that the Cast Thicket can be calibrated to succeed and incredibly well.’ The announcement of the winning proposal for APPLIED: Research through Fabrication was made at the ACADIA 2012, Synthetic Digital Ecologies awards dinner to a full and enthusiastic house.
Subsequent to the announcement, TEX-FAB and the Cast Thicket team, headed by Christine Yogiaman and Ken Tracy proceeded to refine and develop the proposal at a larger scale. With engineering support by Buro Happold’s Erik Verboon and Alexey Nefedov the development took 3 months and numerous prototypes, with a series of performative developments in the casting envelope, structure and overall formal configuration to resolve the articulated complexity. Brad Bell, TEX-FAB co-director and Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, with his research office TOPOCAST Lab served to guide and implement the resolved proposal with complimentary work being carried out by the Cast Thicket team in support of the fabrication.
Following are the Cast Thicket exhibition boards.
Cast Thicket teams -
Design Team: Ken Tracy, Christine Yogiaman, Lavender Tessmer, James Struthers
Initial Research: Daphne Robinson, Jicheng Shen
Design Optimization & Fabrication: Jordan Smith, Tang-Wen Cheng
Fabrication: Matthew Carlson, Ting Lun Lai, Shu Liu, Christopher Moy, Tom Ishida
TOPOCAST Lab team -
Craig Gilliam, Amy Jarvis, Jacob Narvaez, Jeff Whately, Alexei Dukov, Austin Ede, Jack Gryczynski, Adam Heisserer, Kelsey Liggett, Khang Nguyen, Rocardo S. Bandeira, Patrick Young, Farid Pourabdollah, Ernesto Gonzales, Tyler Shafer