A Cabinet of Curiosities for Mahatma Gandhi

Completed as part of an option studio with Mack Scogin, 2013.
FABRICATION LAB

Student:

W Gavin Robb (MArch I 2014)

Course:

Option Studio, Mack Scogin

Project:

Perspective view showing overall vault form

The goal here was to find the interface between weightless digital fabrication and solid material. The negative vault forms were created in grasshopper using a series of modulated inputs, modeled into solids, and routed out of high-density EPS on the CNC router.

We then coated the forms in Murphy oil, secured formwork on the sides, and poured concrete. We used Rockite because of its high plaster content, and mixed it quickly (contrary to the directions) in order to increase the random surface effects.

This piece is three cast units, with the middle unit flipped and stacked. You can see the effect of the 3D form counteracting the horizontal datum created by the concrete pour — one artifact of two languages talking into each other.

The marks, imperfections, surface remnants leave a sort of language inscribed in the concrete, lending weight and legitimacy to the abstract virtual helium life of the originating form. This piece speaks to origins.

Front view showing edge continuity and profiles

The faces are planar, abrupt, and clear interruptions of the soft interior space. Edge continuity contradicts gravity and the natural tendency of concrete to be level.

Perspective view showing cantilever

The piece is also weightless, with an extreme cantilever suspended over the void. This was actually a fabrication error (the concrete pour wasn ftt thick enough to hold once released from the form) but created an unexpected and much more interesting moment.

Interior view showing leg

The interior is soft, delicate. The round end-mill of the CNC router created a soft surface on the form, highly distinct from the flat plywood of the sides. Even covered in release agent, this creates a striated soft interior finish which gives life to the trace of its making.

Interior view showing leg

The crisp vault lines were particularly successful, especially given that the foam formwork was a positive routed out from above. This meant that the seam was formed with a router bit, and the crispness of the interior corner was limited by the size of the ball end.

Interior view showing knife-edge

Light and shadow, soft concrete, and a porous floating support. The combination of virtual unweight and the heft and trace of concrete combine to evoke an unreality.


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Mention the author(s) on the FabLab Forum using the following usernames: @wgavinrobb