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Students use gravity to design complex sandstone structures

20 November 2017
New elective working with sandstone

This year we were pleased to offer a new elective to 3rd year Bachelor of Design in Architecture and Master of Architecture students.

students with white foam structure

The Advanced Fabrication elective focussed on designing a compression-only vault; an arched structure using only gravity to hold sections together, rather than joining devices or an internal frame (similar to the Armadillo Vault at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture). Students were given a basic model and asked to design a formal and aesthetic arrangement of blocks based on the initial sketches. Blocks were to be designed as though they were cut in sandstone using a wire saw.

Students’ designs were 3D printed and exhibited in The Hearth. To push these experiments further we also took one element from each of the designs to create a hybrid version, cut from polystyrene foam at a human-sized scale.

“The big idea behind this, for me, was that by combining multiple and independent formal systems into a single object, that final object would take on a kind of ‘natural’ appearance, far more complex and detailed than any one student would conceive of alone,” said Dr Simon Weir, Scholarly Teaching Fellow. He continued:

“Natural beauty is more formally complex than any one designer can produce, but a team of designers, who are not are not limited by the need to reduce cost or complexity, plausibly can.”

Charlie Sarkis from leading local sandstone supplier Gosford Quarries will choose one exemplary model as the winner of the inaugural Gosford Quarries Advanced Fabrication Prize. The winning design will be fabricated in sandstone.

The wire-cut sandstone project will continue in Advanced Fabrication in 2018.

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