Project description:

La Voûte de LeFevre is the result of a call for help. This call is sim­ple. It asks archi­tects to cut it out with the addic­tion to the thin. It begs for an inter­ven­tion, which came in the form of a one-year fel­low­ship ded­i­cated to exper­i­ment­ing with this request. This year was a form of re-hab. “You will build a heavy, per­ma­nent, and vol­u­met­ric archi­tec­ture. You will learn from this process and report back to us.”

When posited the task of build­ing a full-scale project with heavy and vol­u­met­ric process, two obsta­cles emerged — assur­ance and ambi­tion. How can we guar­an­tee a vault with sig­nif­i­cant mass will stand, and how can we build a project of such vol­u­met­ric scale on bud­get and sched­ule? The answers existed in these two words — com­pu­ta­tion and fabrication.

The vault is com­puted with a solver-based model that elic­its a compression-only struc­ture, from a non-ideal geom­e­try. The model requires a fixed geom­e­try as input, and opens aper­tures in order to vary the weight of each unit. This dynamic sys­tem re-configures the weight of the units based on a vol­u­met­ric cal­cu­la­tion. If unit A con­tains twice the vol­ume of unit B, then unit A weights twice as much. It requires that the mate­r­ial of the project be con­sis­tent, and solid (hol­low does not work). The com­puted result pro­duces a project that will stand ‘for­ever’ as there is zero ten­sion in the sys­tem pre­cisely because of the weight and vol­ume of the project, and not in spite of it.

The vault is pro­duced with Baltic Birch ply­wood. The ply­wood is sourced in three quar­ter inch thick sheets await­ing the ‘thick­en­ing’. Each cus­tom unit is dis­sected and sliced into these thick­nesses, cut from the sheets, and then phys­i­cally re-constituted into a rough vol­u­met­ric form of their final geom­e­try. These roughs are indexed onto a full sheet and glued, vac­uum pressed, and re-placed onto the CNC (com­puter numer­i­cally con­trolled) router.”

loca­tion: Colum­bus Ohio
site: Ban­vard Gallery: Knowl­ton School of Archi­tec­ture
client: LeFevre Fel­low­ship
size: 15′ X 20′
mate­r­ial: Baltic Birch Ply­wood
prin­ci­pal: Bran­don Clif­ford + Wes McGee
project team: Jake Hag­gmark \ Maciej Kaczyn­ski \ Aaron Wil­lette
build team: Edgar Ascaño \ Kristy Bal­liet \ Kather­ine Ben­nette \ Beth Blostein \ Jenna Bolino \ Chris Car­bone \ Tim Cousino \ Anthony Gagliardi \ Brian Koehler \ Dar­win Men­ji­var \ Paul Miller \ Tony Nguyen \ Bart Overly \ Aaron Pow­ers \ Steve Sarver \ Katy Vic­cel­lio \ Sean Zielin­ski
acknowl­edge­ments: Project fund­ing by the Howard E. LeFevre ‘29 Emerg­ing Prac­ti­tioner Fel­low­ship / Fab­ri­ca­tion sup­port by the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan TCAUP FABLab / Nest­ing Soft­ware pro­vided by TDM Solutions

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