Categories
Vera Parlac

Differentiated Topographies 1: Repetitive Topographies

Date: 2014
Client: n/a
Principal Investigator: Vera Parlac
Collaborators: n/a
Project Budget: withheld
Research Assistants/ Project Team: n/a
Funding Agencies: n/a
Publications: n/a

Differentiated Topographies is a research project that explores the ways of constructing and re-constructing structures through aggregation using small components. Repetitive Topography is the first one in the series, made from components same in size and similar in shape. The final configuration of the full-scale construct is governed by the stability and transparency requirements. Stability is achieved in two ways: by interlocking the components through simple slot friction connection and by pattern of aggregation (forming one-module short extensions, similar to buttress structure, that run perpendicular to the general direction of the surface). Transparency of the surface can vary by changing the basic shape of the component. This particular surface presented here uses two different shapes. One of them is more enclosed reducing the see-through effect in some areas. The structure is able to adapt to variety of spaces and configurations due to the shape and connectivity of its components. The project is based on the concept of structures built in nature such as bird nests or beaver dams. It exploits the notion of resilience achieved through redundancy of connections and elements. This concept of redundancy is applied in a design, fabrication, and construction of the Repetitive Topography project. The structure was installed as a classroom partition in the outdoor education classroom and built with seven grade students (providing a learning experience for them). It is positioned to divide the bicycle and outdoor gear storing area of the classroom from the lecture and work area.

Categories
Matthew Parker Vera Parlac

Agile Spaces

Date: 2013
Client: n/a
Principal Investigator: Vera Parlac
Collaborators: n/a
Project Budget: Withheld
Research Assistants/ Project Team: Matt Parker
Sponsors: University of Calgary Seed Grant
Publications: “Agile Spaces” published in the Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA): Adaptive Architecture, University of Waterloo, Cambridge, Ontario, 2013
Agile Spaces/ Iconic/ SKiN“, Responsive Architecture Research Team V. Parlac and B. Kolarevic, in Facing the Future, Exhibition Book, 2nd International Scientific Conference and Exhibition, Gallery of Science and Technology, Belgrade, Serbia, 2014

The backbone of this project is a kinetic material system actuated by shape memory alloy (SMA) springs. The material system is developed both as a physical and digital prototype. Its behavior is examined at a physical level and the findings are used to digitally simulate behavior of the larger system. The system utilizes a lattice structure and its structural behavior. It relies on elastic deformation of the constituent members, which allows the forces of bending to be distributed along a wider region of the surface. The system becomes kinetic when the SMA spring actuators are activated. Activation of the springs introduces tension into the lattice members that causes change in the geometry of the lattice cells. The result of this is bending of the wider region of the surface. The lattice can be actuated in the lower or upper zone. Depending on the zone of actuation the lattice deforms and moves upwards or downwards. The contraction of the SMA spring produces a tension in the middle layer of the lattice, which manifests through the deformation of the cell structure, bending an entire region of the lattice. Strategic placement of the actuators across the lattice produces accumulated bending effect and deforms the entire surface.

Categories
Vera Parlac

Structured Elasticity: Material Agency

Date: 2008
Client: n/a
Principal Investigator: Vera Parlac
Collaborators: n/a
Project Budget: Withheld
Research Assistants/ Project Team: n/a
Funding Agencies: n/a
Publications: “Structuring the Surface / Material Agency” in the digital proceedings book, ACSA Annual Meeting 2008 Conference: Seeking the City, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
“Structuring the Surface” exhibited at Seams and Surfaces Exhibition, January 2008, Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Architecture Department

Structured elasticity is a series of experiments focusing on making a composite material that embodies behavior and has capacity to adapt under external influences. The composite material exploits elasticity and strategic positioning of various forms of infrastructure that facilitates the shaping of the material and its response to dynamic influence.

Two types of the composite material are developed:

  1. The constituent materials, matrix and reinforcement, have the same physical properties (elasticity). One of them is pre-stressed and induces a behavior of the other.
  2. The matrix is elastic but the reinforcement has two components, elastic and non-elastic that are not fused together and are able to perform independently. Material can be formed by manipulation of the non-elastic component of the reinforcement.

Structure, infrastructure and surface are collapsed into one system that performs by allowing each component of the reinforcement (structure and infrastructure) to behave or to be manipulated relatively independently.

The goal of the research is to blur the boundaries between form generation and materialization by unfolding innate material capacities and behaviors, as well as to test a threshold between a composite material and an architectural assembly.