Tendril Translations

Dustin Brugmann (website), Jayme Van Oot
University of Michigan, Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning
Thesis Project – Novel Constructions
Faculty: Glenn Wilcox (website), Wesley McGee (website)


A hybridization of material science, robotic fabrication, and generative and parametric form finding defines the symbiotic research which resulted in the prototype, ‘Tendril Translations,’ an unstable point in the exploration of a process in order to evaluate the system. While interested in the transformation of a material component into a tectonic structure, the character and performance of the part aggregates with respect to fineness of the global form.

Instead of designing the form, then determining how to make it, our approach began with the detail of the part. A family of self similar helical units, a consequence of self-solving and reactive design, adapt and respond to the site. The necessity to create infinitely unique units with one tool was paramount, a driving force in the fabrication process which developed through physical and digital iterations.

Our research combines aged traditional processes of wood bending (hot pipe, steam bending, and lamination) with robotic fabrication in an effort to create an economical method of producing curvature from flat stock without the need for bulky form work or complicated jigs. By designing the rules of the scripting logic, it permitted the ability to either fabricate 100 of the same part or 100 different parts with the same effort. The 150 unique helical units in this prototype advances the potential for further novel constructions in the craft of wood bending.


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