# of parts

•May 4, 2007 • Leave a Comment

total # of blocks = 280 
total end conditions = 86
total eyebolt conditions = 86
total # of eyebolts = 86
total corner condition = 6
total # shim = 583
3 degree shim = 444
15 degree shim = 139
total # holes to drill = 1043
total length of cable =  91′ 6.5″
  length for the x axis = 46′ 1″
  length for the y axis = 45′ 5.5″


Quote for the Day

•May 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’ – Albert Einstein

material to order

•April 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

217 blocks:

60 ft of steel braided cable

4×8 ply, 3/4″

15′ dowel, 3/4″ dia.

120 end condition hardware
(eye bolt, crimp, 2 nuts, washer)

Block Prototype

•April 9, 2007 • Leave a Comment


dsc04251_web.jpg dsc04257_web.jpg

Our second prototype for the block chair uses the same 1 1/2″ plywood blocks and shims, all set at 15 degree angles. Instead of separate pieces of fishing line running through each row, this prototype was strung with only two cables, one in the X direction, the other in the Y direction. The ends of the cables were fastened in with eyelets and small U-clips set with the last two blocks (see sketch). The overall form was more difficult to achieve when using only one cable. At the points where the cable wrapped back around, the blocks were pulled apart forcing the shims out of place. The overall form was stronger, but still too weak to support the loads we hope for.


We need to continue to investigate a number of issues. Can we spring the blocks into shape without needing a separate cable and hardware for each row? Is there a smarter way to tighten the blocks then just pulling with pliers. Should we use round pegs rather than the shims we now have. How can we utilized the CNC mill to produce the many angled cuts we need? Is there a better way to tighten down the cable within the block?

Initial Prototype with Fishing Wire



Flop Blocks

•March 25, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Having collected our thoughts in a variety of exotic locales, we have reconvened and initiated our second design push.  Considering the potentials of digital fabrication, we have decided that the primary unique capabilitiy that we can truly exploit within our budget is the creation of topologies. Having essentially ruled out 3d plotting due to excessive costs in the context of our restrictive budget, this leaves the mill to form our surfaces. While conceptually consistent with our earlier surface studies, this allows (and forces) us to consider the proposal as a plastic plane in axon or perspective, rather than a surface in section.

We are currently moving forward with an adaptation of the modernist grid – indexing and formatting in a regulated module which constrains geometrically while providing a range of operation within and between modules. We intend to secure modular blocks together in such a way that either the blocks themselves, or the connections between the blocks operate in a consistent way to produce a family of connections forming a super-topology – the overall structure. The blocks themselves are milled according to a sub-topology governed by an overlaid, operationally distinct logic.  Forming a three dimensional quilt, the structure, materiality, and plasticity of specific modules and regions thus enter into a structural amd material negotiation with one another.


The block now serves as our primary component – unifying structure, skin, and operational flexibility. The units will be tied together with cables running the length and width of the chair.  Either the blocks themselves or a set of shims between blocks will drive the structure of the chair.  Once the cable is tensioned, the chair will take on its final structural form. We hope to determine this with our early prototypes.


We look to have an operational quarter scale prototype by next week to explore flush out the set of operational and formal opportunities.

Feedback 2 with Keith Kaseman

•March 1, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Suggestions from Keith Kaseman:

  • Consider treating the project as the development of a prototype rather than production of a finished product. This will allow subsitutution of materials in consideration of cost, actual strength, etc.
  • Consider the project in roughly three sections: material, overall assembly, and componentry. The intention of this would be to take constraints or considerations discovered in the investigations thus far and launch a brief, but newly informed investigation of possible other approaches along these three tracks.
  • Reconsider relationship of structure and skin – fabric inserted in certain areas might provide additional support in  tension to deal with areas where the stress would exceed the limits of individual components. Additionally, fabric might serve to so distributed the load more evenly across components.
  • Reconsider the 3d print cap. Consider instead components consisting of multiple water cut pieces as a cap and locking mechanism. Related to this, look at other industries (such as carraige construction) for new connection typologies and at McMaster for ready-made parts. Existing hinges and connection types might be incorporated to reduce production expense.
  • Some work related to assembly operationality (i.e. hinges): http://www.hoberman.com/

With this in mind, we are all leaving the country for two weeks. During this time we will have an opportunity to both more clearly define our constraints in the context of the information gathered thus far, as well as reconsider some of the constraints and objectives we have been working with.

Feedback #1

•February 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Meeting Feedback
[with Scott Marble and Phil Anzalone]

Conceptual Issues:
What are our constraints? Objectives? Performance parameters? (ie: rolls up, or multiple configurations)
Continue to refine and make more concise our project statement.
Economy, efficiency, material – what is important to us?
Do we design to be economical, do we design to push the equipment we have access to to the extreme?

Fabrication Feedback:

Depending on what our constraints are, perhaps all the compentry doesn’t need to be the same.
Think about eleminating the number of componets to have fewer more specific parts, ie if it doesn’t need to roll, you can have longer pieces, have thicker, stronger peices where more stress is applied

Later on we should run Solidsworks to calculate finite analysis

Check out other examples. Scott sees our current model (the roll) as a surface project, not as componentry. Check out how roll up gates work. Also check out how fabric can operate in tension, ie umbrella

In regard to our issue of weak shear moment connections, perhaps this could be alleviated by using diagonal members throughout as opposed to the parallel dowels. As opposed to the rolling surface, we could potentially explore accordion folds. Research piano hinges, fibre tape, and hinges that can shift in two directions, out and up, as in windows.