Body, Form, Material and Surface Making of Ruga Interior Skin

Citation:

Wu, J. (2017). Body, Form, Material and Surface Making of Ruga Interior Skin, Interiors: Design/Architecture/Culture, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp. 73-87. 2017

Link to full paper in PDF

Abstract

In design history, the concept of ‘skin’ has been used to refer to the outermost tissue that encloses a physical body. So, if the concept of ‘skin’ can be understood as a generator of ideas for interiors that lie in between the flexible spaces around the body and the rigid spaces within the building, what new form and context can an interior skin take in adding to the contemporary interiority? Borrowing from the metaphor of ‘skin’ in fashion, interior design and architecture, Ruga Interior Skin (RIS) explores the ambiguous and conceptual realm connecting the act of wearing, inhabiting and its relationship between body, form, material, and surface-making of a novel interior semi-structural wall and partition. ‘Ruga’ is the Latin word for making wrinkles, creases, pleats, and folds. RIS is inspired by the use of wrinkling and folding to create flexible frameless topological forms that can be suspended in a way that is similar to a piece of cloth or textile. Both flexible and rigid, RIS draws the connection between the body and the interior surface, placing the dichotomy of permanent vs. ephemeral, solid vs. light, and material vs. digital at the center of the concept.

Ruga Swan at Clay Center for Arts and Sciences, Charleston, VA
Ruga Swan at Clay Center for Arts and Sciences, Charleston, VA

Zushiki light art: form finding and making through paper folding

creaseCitation:

Wu, J. 2016. Zushiki light art: form finding and making through paper folding. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2016 Emerging Technologies (SIGGRAPH ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA

Paper folding allows for complex and innovative structures formed with simple and low cost tools at the point of assembly. From simple pieces of paper, folded designs can be easily deployed into a three-dimensional volume and can be flattened to a two-dimensional shape for ease of shipping and storage. The goal of this workshop is to demonstrate practical means of using paper folding, the art of origami, in product design in order to seek innovative ways of form finding and making.

Zushiki, or図式, is a Japanese word for plan, scheme, pattern and design. Zushiki Light Art is inspired by modular origami in which multiple sheets of paper are used to create a larger and more complex design.  These designs are not possible using single-piece origami techniques. Historically, modular origami first appeared in a Japanese book published in 1743 called Ranma Zushiki. The book shows a modular origami cube called tamatebako, or玉手箱, translated as “magic treasure chest.”

Three unique light art design, Gokakukei, Sakuru, and Sankakei, will be available for participant to make at Studio in SIGGRAPH. Predesign crease patterns will be sent to a laser cutter to be perforated and cut.  These laser-cut pieces will be then hand folded connected by small plastic snap buttons and small metal rings. The number of pieces required for each light will be varied from four pieces to twelve pieces. A small battery-powered LED will be used to illuminate each folded design.

Zushiki Light Art is designed using super light-weight, natural material coupled with low impact digital fabrication and making techniques. Each of the Zushiki Light Art presents a minimal carbon footprint and ecological impact. It invites the ephemeral interplay between the light and shadow throughout the night, providing a soft ambience that highlights the intricacy and the mathematical complexity of each piece.

Boreas: Flat-foldable Parametric Design

Citation:

Wu, J. (2016). Boreas: Flat-foldable Parametric Design. Proceedings of the Interior Design Educators Council Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon

Origami has inspired many designers and engineers to come up with novel ways to fabricate, assemble, store and morph objects and structures that are safe, efficient and energy saving from collapsible medical stents for hearts to airbags for cars. However, coming up with flat foldable and collapsible volumetric design of any arbitrary shape is continuing to be a great challenge to designers. Boreas project attempts to understand how to combine origami principles and parametric design process in form-finding, fabricating and assembling collapsible volume in a case study of folded light art.

The seed for the form genesis of Boreas is an origami Waterbomb module, a flat-foldable origami tessellation whose creation is credited to computer scientist and mathematician Ron Resch. In Boreas, this Waterbomb origami module is transformed by a simple truncating operation and is further digitally manipulated. Through an algorithm based design process this simple module seed is rhythmically repeated in a series of definitions and mathematical functions in the software program Grasshopper so as to create complex assemblies that is flat-foldable and collapsible. By changing the mathematical parameters in the algorithmic structure, a myriad of distortions and transformations are generated in order to study the relationship between form, structure, and global flat-foldability.

A symmetrical design is chosen for final fabrication in this case study. Symmetrical design results in a more simplified fabrication process and an overall reduction of material consumption. 128 three-dimensional modules, of which only eight are unique, are unrolled into two dimensional shapes, modified by adding assembly details, and nested onto large sheets of High-Tec Kozo for digital cutting. This entire digital workflow is accomplished through the very same algorithmic structure that generates the forms, thus streamlining the process from form finding to digital fabrication and assembly. The resulting two dimensional forms are then folded by hand and assembled with small plastic buttons.

Hi-tec Kozo is a type of tear-free Shoji paper, which has a three-layer structure, with eco-friendly polyester film as core and Kozo Washi on both sides.  Kozo Washi is a type of renewable material that is made from the inner bark of Kozo, a type of mulberry tree that can be sustainably harvested each year. Unlike conventional paper manufacturing that contributes heavily to water, land, and air pollution, the manufacturing of Kozo Washi borrows from traditional hand-made paper processes and techniques and uses very little chemicals. The result is a type of paper that is much stronger and greener than conventional paper.

Boreas is part of the Anemoi Light Art collection. Visually similar to the soft and swaying body structure of the sea anemone (in Greek, Anemoi means “winds” and Anemone means “daughter of the wind”), Borea, doesn’t require any structural support to hold up its volumetric frame. When suspended and illuminated, Boreas sways into ephemeral and gentle patterns of light and shadow, softening their surroundings with pristine, mathematical geometry and rich, natural textures.

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Chromatic Points of Light: Form Finding through Computational Physical Simulation

Chromatic Points of Light is a proposal for a public art installation. The project is based on  my interests in form finding through computational physical simulation. The main tool used is Kangaroo, a plug-in for Rhinoceros that work within Grasshopper interface. Kangaroo is developed by Daniel Piker, who used to work at the Specialist Modelling Group (SMG) at Foster + Partners. Essentially, Kangaroo is a collection of algorithms that simulates certain aspects of the behavior of real-world materials and objects, enabling geometric forms to be shaped by material properties and applied physical forces such as spring forces and gravity forces.

triangle.3dm
A rendering of Chromatic Points of light
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A rendering of Chromatic Points of light
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Detail of rendering of Chromatic Points of light

The minimal surface found in Chromatic Points of Light is the result of simulations of spring forces on a mesh surface. The main material proposed for this tensile structure is some type of architectural fabric. Potential fabrics might includ vinyl coated polyester (PVC), Teflon coated fiberglass (PTFE), or HDPE, a high density polyethylene mesh. In addition, digitally controlled LEDs is proposed to wash the canvas of this architectural mesh with ephemeral and changing patterns of light.

Folding into Light: Sustainability, Making, and Materials

Citation:

Wu, J. (2015). Folding into Light: Material, Form, and Making, International Journal of Design Objects, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp. 34-45, 2015

Link to PDF

Environmental issues (such as pollution, climate change, and natural resource depletion) are increasingly becoming the core factors in consumer manufacturing industries.  Designers, manufacturers and marketing strategists are more conscious of taking account of sustainable product development in their design strategies (Kloepffer, 2003). Today, more and more products are designed by reducing the amount of materials and energy used, and by increasing the recyclable content and its potentiality for reuse. This trend has resulted in sustainable product designs that incorporate the use of green materials. One such green material is paper, due to its high level of recyclable contents. Paper is often thrown away or recycled after one-time or short-term use because of its fragility and commonality. Due to recent advances in the material science of paper development, paper has started to be used for technical components and for three dimensional products (Schmidt, 2009). According to Schmidt, technical paper is a new type of material that is manufactured in a similar way to conventional paper and consists of similar raw materials. It is processed and shaped using the same technologies or processes as conventional paper and possesses qualities similar to conventional paper, such as its feel, weight, and format. Technical paper that is water- and weather-proof, tear-proof, and chemical resistant, is now being used for the manufacturing of light-weight and long lasting products. Product designers have begun to turn their attention to this cheap and common material and have started to recognize the sustainable value in it. For example, renowned architects such as Frank Gehry and Shigeru Ban and renowned designer Issey Miyaki have used paper to produce their furniture, buildings, and even fashion.

Paper may be cut, scored, torn, rolled, or folded. In particular, folded paper design, using techniques that are similar to traditional origami, have inspired designers to come up with innovative design products. One of the early design explorations through paper folding was found in Josef Albers’ preliminary design class in the Bauhaus (Wingler & Stein, 1969). When a flat piece of paper is folded, the stiffness of the paper is significantly increased. When paper is folded in certain tessellation patterns, the mechanical behavior of the paper is altered as it becomes deployable and kinetic. Origami-inspired paper designs have been the subjects of many scientific research projects.  For example, mathematical theorems concerning geometric properties in folded paper have been studied (Demaine & O’Rourke, 2008). Computer algorithms have been developed to help fold desirable objects and to understand the best ways to fold tray cartons (Mullineux, 2010). Finite element analysis has been used to study the behavior of paper during the folding process (Beex & Peerlings, 2009). Curved folding and creasing have been investigated. Many more research projects focus on understanding the computational complexity and geometric algorithms of paper folding and unfolding. While research into paper folding has been conducted in computer science, mathematics, engineering and material science, little research has been conducted on paper folding in the field of design practice. This article is an attempt to fill this gap by systemically exploring practical means of using paper folding in product design in order to understand the making process and the materiality of paper in product design.

The goal of this paper is to understand the overlapping issues of sustainability, making techniques, and material choices by applying the art of paper folding in product design and the development of light sheds. Geometric tessellated patterns that can produce flat-foldable and rigid-foldable designs are focused, and variations of these crease patterns are explored to generate a variety of folded designs that can be used toward light sheds. A wide variety of durable conventional paper and technical paper materials that are appropriate for light sheds are compared and tested in terms of their material properties, functionalities and sustainability attributes. In order to investigate such issues, we will examine a lighting brand, Folded Light Art. Currently technical production processes for cutting and etching sheet materials, such as digital cutting or laser cutting, as well as traditional hand folding, are used to produce the scale paper models and 1:1 scale prototypes for the works of Folded Light Art. Luminary hardware is fabricated at local sheet metal shops. Potential CNC technologies of creasing and folding sheet materials are further explored in this article.

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Ruga Architectural Skin (RAS): Towards Building Smart Self-Folding Topology

Citation:

Wu, J., Anwar, S. (2016). Ruga Interior Skin (RIS): Towards Building Smart Self-Deployable Structures,” International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp. 17-30, 2016

Link to PDF

In architectural design, skin is a familiar metaphor for building envelopes that provide flexible layers of protection and are often dependent upon rigid structural supports. With advances in material technology and sustainable development, architectural skins are changing, creating new topological forms, providing new visual and tactile experiences, and becoming the conceptual bridge between our body and our environment. Can a three-dimensional architectural skin be self-assembled or self-folded from two-dimensional sheet material? Can this architectural skin be made of non-rigid material and yet provide semi-rigid structural support? What are the design considerations, tools, techniques, methods and processes of building such an architectural skin? And how can a new approach to developing an innovative architectural skin contribute to our ongoing search for energy-efficient building design, self-assembling deployable shelter, as well as sustainable construction techniques? This paper will introduce Ruga Architectural Skin (RAS), an ongoing research project exploring the potentiality of a new type of architectural skin.

“Ruga” is a Latin word for making winkles, creases, and folds, and the word has been recently used by material scientists to describe the various physical qualities of these various folded states. RAS is inspired by the use of folding to create complex topological forms from flat thin sheet material with simple and low cost tools. Folded forms have inherently rigid properties and at the same time are flexible. In comparison to other fabrication techniques, folding or bending allows for complex and innovative structures formed with simple and low cost tools at the point of assembly. From flat sheet material, folded designs can be easily deployed into a three-dimensional volume and then can be collapsed back to a two-dimensional flat shape that is much smaller for ease shipping and storage.

Many folded designs are inspired by origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. The original purpose of origami is to obtain various shapes, ranging from animals figures to objects, both abstract and figurative, by folding a flat sheet of uncut paper. Constructing a three-dimensional surface from two-dimensional sheet material in origami has inspired designers and engineers to come up with novel ways to fabricate, assemble, store and morph structures that are safe, efficient and energy saving (Edwin, Hartl, Malak, & Lagoudas, 2014), from collapsible medical stents for hearts (Kuribayashi et al., 2006) to airbags for cars. In architectural design, one of the earliest examples of exploration of paper folding and topological design of architectural system was conducted by Ron Resch (Ronald D Resch, 1973). In the last two decades, folding, both as a theoretical idea and as a means for form generation in architecture, has inspired a new generation of architects and designers to create morphogenesis architectural volumes with continuous variations and interpolations that overlaps gaps and avoid fracture (Lynn, 2004). Morphological architectural structures are starting to make use of one of the main characteristics of folding design – the kinetic ability to deploy and collapse in three-dimensional space (Liapi, 2002; Motro, 2009). More recently, researchers have been looking into using active materials that can convert various form of energy into mechanical work for folding to create self-folding (Edwin et al., 2014). However, low cost architectural skins that are deployable, configurable and that are in large scales, continue to be very challenging for architects and designers.

This architectural skin comes from two-dimensional sheet materials that can be pre-fabricated off-site and then shipped flat to the site, thus tremendously reducing the required amount of energy and resources in comparison to conventional structures. Once arriving on the site, it can be self-assembled or self-folded, suspended and reconfigured differently into various semi-structural surfaces. Although this architectural skin has roots in a paper folding art form, it proposes not only to significantly advance the technology of the art form, but also to transform this technology to the self-assembling structures that can potentially shift the paradigm in building temporary architecture.

This paper starts with a discussion of the application of origami in self-assemble and deployable architectural topologies. While objective of this paper is towards building smart self-folding architectural topology, this paper currently focuses on identifying the design considerations, tools, techniques, methods and processes of making and installing of several 1:1 scale mock-ups in corrugated cardboard, testing of varies materials, and surveying of the self-folding mechanism design and remote micro-processor control system design. Pending funding opportunity will allow us to build a 1:1 scale smart architectural skin prototype.

This research is a collaboration between Jiangmei Wu and Sohel Anwar.

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