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McGee, Thün, Velikov win Honorable Mention in 2016 Architect magazine R+D awards

Monday, July 18, 2016

McGee, Thün, Velikov win Honorable Mention in 2016 Architect magazine R+D awards

The faculty team of Assistant Professor Wes McGee, Associate Professor and Associate Dean Geoffrey Thün, and Associate Professor Kathy Velikov have been awarded Honorable Mention for their research project, Infundibuliforms: Cable Robot Actuated Kinetic Environments, by Architect magazine. The award is one of the 2016 R+D design awards announced in June.

This project explores actuated environments: spaces which can be rapidly reconfigured in real-time, to suit changing programmatic and performative demands, integrated with interactive capacities. The work advances research in cable-based robots for architectural applications, research in computational design environments for kinetic architectures, and research in the production of extruded elastomeric tensile meshes. These research streams are combined to produce a controllable, dynamically reconfigurable spatial enclosure. The project has produced a distributed motion control system that can be utilized to support continuing experimentation with actuation through a range of material and spatial configurations. A physics engine-based design environment has been developed to enable designers to translate kinetic surfaces into working prototypes through an open-source graphical programming interface, coupled with an industry- standard software motion controller. A parallel stream of material research has advanced the development of a robotic extrusion printer for thermoplastic elastomers, and the development of “flat to form” geometries that allow two-dimensionally printed mesh-lattices to be tensioned into funicular forms. The team’s digital modeling and physical fabrication process is an “ingenious new technique,” juror Elizabeth Whittaker, AIA, says. “The formal possibilities seem endless.”

Click here to view a short film describing the work of Infundibuliforms.

Infundibuliforms has been developed with through support from the 2015 Research Through Making Program and a University of Michigan Office of Research: Small Projects Grant

Project Team:
Design Research Associate: Daniel Tish (M.Arch ’15)
Fabrication Assistants: Asa Peller, Dustin Brugman (M.Arch ’15), Andrew Kremers (M.Arch ’16), Andrew Wald (M.Arch ’14), Iram Moreno Pinon
Wireless Sensing Adviser: Dr. Jerome Lynch
Technical Partners: Buckeye Polymers; Industrial Fabricating Systems; Beckhoff Controls