Acadia announces winners of the 2011 Integrative Materialities Competition sponsored by FLATCUT_

The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA), in collaboration with Brooklyn-based fabrication house FLATCUT_ are pleased to announce winners of this year’s ACADIA 2011 Design + Fabrication Competition. The competition challenged designers to create new forms in the categories of furniture, partition and lighting using innovative materials and digital fabrications applications. The winners brought not only ingenuity to their designs, but a sense of beauty and functionality that excited the jury. The final jury, which chose three winners from 15 finalists, included award-winning architects Tod Williams of TWBTA, Chris Sharples of SHoP Architects, Tom Wiscombe of Emergent, Dror Benshetrit of Studio Dror, and Thomas Christoffersen from BIG. FLATCUT founder Tomer Ben-Gal served as technical advisor.

“I think the struggle between the process and the product is interesting,” said Tod Williams. “Largely the entrants were caught up in the issue of the process, but each of the winners was also thinking about what it would look like and be and feel in space; there was a sensual desire that was pushing it.”

“What is really exciting about this work for students and young practitioners, and all practitioners, is that it is making the whole process of making more accessible,” said Chris Sharples. “There is a sense of immediacy and a process about, how do I make this real? How do you bring it back to architecture and make these things come alive and become real through constructible operations and working with fabricators? This exercise speaks to that and there should be more like them.” 

The winner in the Furniture category is RECIP, a modular furniture system designed by Alison MacLachlan, Bryan Gartner and Richard Cotter, all students at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design, where the ACADIA 2011 conference is taking place. RECIP is comprised of mutually reinforcing sets of interlocking rubber panels laminated to heavyweight felt batting. The project draws on the inherent material properties of both rubber and felt to produce a structural system that is capable of both moments of rigidity and moments of flexibility in the same assembly. Thanks to its inherent adaptability, RECIP can be reconfigured to function as a chair, a table, a bookcase, or spatial divider.

“I think what attracted us [to RECIP] innately in a contemporary way was the fusion of two different materials and the way they performed together,” said Tom Wiscombe. “It involved certain types of techniques, like fusing, melting and different modes of manufacturing rather than using a single known tooling process.”

In the Partition category, HYPERLAXITY: Parabolic Ligaments is a non-modular partition system made from aluminum and silicone cut into a hexagonal and triangular pattern. The system is secured in compression by the tensioned silicone ligaments, which connect all of the rigid aluminum members. Each part is necessary in order to maintain a cohesive assembly. HYPERLAXITY was the result of a collaboration between Elizabeth Boone (of SOM) and PROJECTiONE (pronounced Project One), a design/fabrication studio, started last year by Adam Buente and Kyle Perry.

“I like how technically the inner rings, together with the other shapes create different opposite hexagon forms,” said Dror Benshetrit. “It is has a quite beautiful self-standing presence that is inherent in the structure. I also think in terms of pushing parametric design this is the most interesting entry.”

LUMINESCENT LIMACON, the winner in the Lighting category, is a folded lighting design by Andrew Saunders, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The Luminescent Limacon is inspired partly from the Dutch Ruff – flamboyant linen collars considered fashionable in 17th-century Europe – as a vehicle for the manipulation of light. The light is the product of an integral design process that combines computation, mathematics, material performance and fabrication. To achieve both the lighting effects and the geometric configuration, the light is composed of 3form Ecoresin. When folded and nested, the ecoresin ruffles are laced together with an associative woven lattice of aircraft suspension cable, which, when combined, produce a combination of tensile and compressive forces for rigid structural stability.

“The fineness of the line work of this thread that ties it together is really critical,” said Tom Wiscombe. “That it is two systems, one of a surface system and one of a kind of vector, is what I think together makes it look so beautiful and elegant, the pairing of those.”

The ACADIA 2011 Annual Conference will explore integrative trajectories and areas of overlap that have emerged through computation between design, its allied disciplines of engineering and construction, and other fields, such as computer science, material science, mathematics and biology. The conference will highlight experimental projects in which methods, processes, and techniques are discovered, appropriated, adapted, and altered from elsewhere, and digitally pursued.