29 October 2008

39 NABA Design Workshop: Fragile Wall

During 20-24 October, 2008 (basically last week), I was invited to run a workshop for NABA Design Program. (Actually I wrote once about NABA last year when I was invited to give a lecture there, here is the LINK). This time was the workshop week for the whole NABA Design Program from the 1st year to the 3rd year, therefore 10 workshops were run at the same time. Super chaotic, super fun. Thanks to Stefano Mirti & Rachel Ficken for making all happen. :-) Also thanks to my TA, Valeria Portinari, without her, my communication in Italian would not go far.

My workshop is for the first year students, 23 of them together. The title of the workshop is "Fragile Wall". The brief is very simple: the students have to build 'a wall' that can define space out of A3/A4 sheets of ordinary office paper without extra structure. Basically the wall has to stand itself, with little help of glue and steple only.

This is our room No. 1 where we spent basically the whole week working there. The students divided into 6 groups upon their own wills. They were always there, working hard, at least 6 hours a day for the whole week! Good job guys!

: Michele Bianconcini, Istvan Bojte, Graziano Carbone & Matteo Canzio

The began with the tower and developed into a long unit form that can attach each other both horizontally and vertically.

Each unit is folded from a sheet of A3 paper diagonally, very complex folding method was also purely developed themselves. Each layer, the unit is slightly different because of the structural requirement.

The working process was very good, because they learned about the problems of the structure little by little and tried to solve them one by one. Here they found out that when the wall reached a certain level, it began to collapse. So the structure at the base had to be reinforced. The also developed the form of this reinforcing elements both structurally and aestheticly.

This is the final wall with the lights..you can see the lights through the diagonal folds..

On the other side of the wall. Very nice indeed.

At the same time, this Group 1 had the other idea that they did not want to drop. So they ended up working in parallel on the other wall. They began with a triangle section unit, which was folded from a square sheet of paper. The idea is to use the unit as if it is a brick...

When the wall reached a certain level, it began to fail, so they curved and fixed it on the floor.

The final wall looks pretty much like a lace wall, very beautiful with the light on.

This is how it divides space...Pretty much impressive for the first year students with their first work of design in their life!

GROUP 2 : Robin Schineider, Davide Cabrini, Riccardo Carminati & Luciano Bensussan.

They began with various ideas of cylinder, cone, tower... but finally they realized that those would not be so stable. So they restarted again with the simple unit of linear folded sheets that form a square and then a grid system..

They just kept cutting the top part of each layer before adding up another one..The system of each layer is rather regular, while the way they superimpose them is rather random. I think this is very interesting too.

On thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours before the final, when the wall reached a certain height, it collapsed. Robin was almost crying.. But at least they learned that they way the did the base was not properly done: too thin paper and too random the system they assembled the units.

So with some encouragement, they restarted again from zero with the complete understanding of the nature of their structure. Finally before Friday 24th, noon, they reached 140 cm height.. bravissimo!

This is how it looks at the final photo shots. Not bad at all. :-) You finally made it.

GROUP 3: Alice Barki, Elis Bonini & Giuseppe Abrescia

They began with a serie of square unit form, but did not like it and shifted to explore more the interlocking technique.

It is finally developed into a david star shape unit composed with two triangle sections together.

Then they began to pile the units together without any glue or staple. It was the moment of realization that although the unit is very simple, the way to put on layer on another required a deep understanding of a complex geometry.. But they did not give up, they kept trying and making more units.

Then when they began to pile the units on the floor, the problems were more visible: since each layer has to shift from the lower one 1/3 always, they wall was leaning out and could not stay... they were trying and trying.. but never gave up. Super strong group spirit indeed. (although you can see that Giuseppe was a bit desperated here :)...)

Finally with some discussions with their classmates from other groups, they were able to find the proper solution. (an ideal design studio learning indeed) Although it was a bit against their principle not to use glue or staple.. to make that high wall, it is too risky, I suggested. Basically they attached three units into one with staple, so they are stronger and allowed to be piled up in different way.

Finally they made about 600 units, 1200 triangle sections... :O and this was how they put the units up together.

The finaly wall, somthing really to be proud of!

Very nice lighting effect too.

GROUP 4: Carla Brandimarti, Alma Bercolo, Nirmala Caldana & Maria Airoldi

The group of 4 super girls ;-). They began with the very simple unit of the fold to make a game (I don't know how to call this in English, but you should understand easily from the pictures).

The first problem was how to put them over, they found out shortly. Then they just put one layer on the top of another..

They have this idea to color the outer wing of each unit by the hole maker for office file.. and then put a translucent color paper on the other side. So that when light gets through these holes, they would be colored. Well, it was a bit too much work, making these holes..I believe. :-)

They just kept folding and piling the units up.. higher and higher.. there were few moments that the wall collapsed, but they just redid again.. and again..

You can see how high it is .... they are very good indeed.

The actually made two walls, so they could lean a bit on each other... This is with the light...very nice too.

GROUP 5: Alejandro Angelica, Gaia Bottari, Cinzia Bruzzo & Sabrina Benhassen

The group developed this idea from triangle unit form from the very beginning.

Finally they found the way to connect them 3-dimensionally - basically it is two layers of triangle units connected upside down, each unit is folded in the middle so that it could stand... it became a very nice wall.. so they began to fold, fold and fold... so many units.

The wall grew higher, higher and higher...

As usual, when it reached a certain height, the wall began to bend.. they tried to fix the base of the wall, still it was too weak and finally was on the floor. This was very nice learning experience..

They began again with a double layer of paper to make the units on the base..the found the problems and finally the solutions...

This is how the wall finally looks.. very nice..lighting effects too. They named the wall "Butterfly Effects".

Different lights...

GROUP 6: Emanuela Abbruzza, Luca Arosio, Giulia Arlant & Paola Aversa

The group began with a stripe sheet that curved by stick penetraing between two..

Then they realized that the stick was too complicated an unnecessary, while piling up the layers.. on the top of each other.

So they restarted with a new way to curve and put them together. Basically their unit has no fix form, just a fix rule that the stripes have to be curved also in several layers looking from the top view.

This fix rule but lose form allowed them to work freely... I really like the structure - very simple, very intuitive. They also wanted to put some color papers...

Each layer stay on the top of the lower one by cutting a bit the lower one to make it stay fixed. They seemed to enjoy workin pretty much too..

Here they are.. finally the wall has this free-form quality... very interesting indeed.

When it got some lights on.. the shadows are also interesting..

Finally they all made a presentation at the main auditorium of the school with all the design students from all classes and many professors - the first presentation in their design student life.... not bad at all.

In the evening.. after everybody left.. they walls were still there.. in the room. :-) The result of our one-week hard working.. Thanks a lot also for all the students for working this hard. As a first project of their design school, I was very impressed. :-) Also wish you the best strength for the next three years.

Actually there were also many interesting projects of the other workshops, you can check them out from NABA Design homepage.

For some days, NABA used images from our workshop as the first page of the school website:

The students were very happy. :-) congratulations guys!


Anonymous said...

very nice :)
the game concept of the 4th group is quite interesting..
also the curved one from 1st group is nice..
the random effects from group 2 is so exciting ..although it might look weak but i like it..


Anonymous said...

Im thinking of go to NABA. I guess you can recomend it? if you compere to other italian designschools? I would be very glad if you could e-mail me some personal thoughts.(maby you dont know so much about it but I take a chance:)) My email is: chrizze_83@hotmail.com