Wormhole Installation: Complex Shapes In Labour Intensive Global South | WEsearch Lab
The Wormhole installation explores a labour-intensive low-cost workflow of assembling laser cut pieces of a free-form surface in the context of Global South. The installation is literally a wormhole shaped faceted skin circumscribed in a 2m x 2m x 2m cube.
Eduwik Architecture Excellence Awards 2022
First Award | Pop-ups and Temporary (Built)
Project Name: Wormhole Installation: Complex shapes in labour intensive Global South
Project Category: Pop-ups and Temporary
Studio Name: WEsearch Lab
Design Team: Joy Mondal
Area: 4 sqm built up
Location: CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India
Consultants: CEPT University Workshop
Photography Credits: Joy Mondal, Abhimanyu Setia and Kumaresh Ghosh
Other Credits: Manual Assembly Team: Joy Mondal, Aashini Sheth, Abhimanyu Setia, Aditi Ashish Kanodia, Archit Milind Kathale, Dhaval Sardhara, Kritika Bodkhe, Kumaresh Ghosh, Madhurima Kumar, Mit Vasant Patel, Palak Chokssi, Payal Vaswani, Priyankita Pant, Raj Rajeswari Sahoo, Salonee Nadkarni, Shashank Trivedi, Tunisha, Vipul Raj and Viral Mehta.
It is built within a budget of 200 USD with 792 custom pieces (triangles with flaps) of 300 gsm paper pulp sheets which are joined by 10mm wide staples and supported by a 15mm x 15mm x 1mm MS hollow section running along the periphery.
The Global South typically does not have cheap or large scale 3-axial 3D printing, 5-axial robot assisted printing, double-curved metal bending and robot assisted assembly infrastructure. On the other hand, it has an abundance of cheap manual labour, and readily available and cheap planar fabrication techniques. To minimise inflation of cost, free-form shapes need to be rationalised into planar parts which can be fabricated using laser cutting or cnc milling machine and assembled using manual labour.
The Wormhole installation is built on the eastwards lawn in front of the Lilavati Lalbhai Library in the CEPT University campus. To visually respect the library’s orthogonal lines, the bounding frame of the installation is designed in the shape of a cube. Inside the frame, the surface is designed with gradual introduction of double-curvature. The surface exhibits self-referential bending in both directions to produce two tube-like holes. The shape of the surface strikes a balance between respecting the surrounding graphical lines and drawing attention of the passerby. The digital part of designing the shape of the surface had the following three steps –
i) 3D modeling of the free-form surface,
ii) Rationalisation of the surface into triangular pieces, and
iii) Generating fabrication drawing by flattening and numbering the triangular pieces, and adding flaps for staple connections.
The rationalisation of the surface into triangles is informed by the material properties of the 300 gsm paper pulp sheets. Given the self-weight of the sheets and the size of the installation, the maximum allowed length of a triangle edge is calculated to be 350mm. For ease of use of hand held devices, the minimum allowed length of a triangle edge is ascertained to be 100mm. Consequently, optimum density of triangulation with minimum number of triangle edges more than and less than the maximum and minimum permissible limits, respectively, is selected for fabrication. The physical part of the process to build the installation had the following three steps –
i) Fabrication of the triangular pieces with the flaps using a laser cut machine,
ii) Manual folding of the half-cut flaps of the triangular pieces, and
iii) Manual assembly of the triangular pieces according to their numbering.
The half-cut flaps of triangular pieces are folded and stapled to each other using simple low-tech flap to flap alignment. The triangles and flaps are numbered, which allows easy one-to-one assembly of the triangles. When all the four quadrants are fastened to the peripheral metal frame, the skin loses its amorphous nature and becomes a rigid tensile structure.