Posts Tagged ‘Flexible Formwork’

Roka Akor SF Restaurant Wall

Date: 2013
Size: 36′ x 11′ x 3″
Materials: Precast Fiber-Reinforced Concrete
Location: Roka Akor, 801 Montgomery St, San Francisco, California
Fabrication: Concreteworks, Oakland, California

Matsys was commissioned to design and prototype a feature wall for the main room at Roka Akor. Inspired by tall bamboo grass, the wall uses a linear constraints on a flexible fabric mold to produce the striated and undulating pattern on the concrete.

Photo by Patricia Chang

Photo by Patricia Chang

Roka Akor, Concrete Wall, Matsys, 2013

Roka Akor, Concrete Wall, Matsys, 2013

Roka Akor, Concrete Wall, Matsys, 2013



Roka Akor, Concrete Wall, Matsys, 2013

P_Wall (2013)

Date: 2013
Size: 6.1m x 3.6 x 0.3m
Materials: Fiber-Reinforced Thin-Shell Precast Concrete Panels mounted on Steel Frame
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Kangaroo
Location: FRAC Centre, Orleans, France
Fabrication: Concreteworks, Oakland, California

P_Wall (2013), part of on-going research by Matsys into the use of flexible formwork (see earlier projects in the series here, here, here, and here), celebrates the self-organization of material under force. The form emerges through the interaction of the elastic fabric formwork and the liquid slurry of plaster. The designer has control over the locations of the constraints on the fabric which inform the overall form of each panel, but the specific curvature is determined solely by the system finding a state of equilibrium between mass and elasticity.

This iteration of the wall focused on three areas of innovation in reference to past iterations. First, this wall is the first to be constructed out of fiber-reinforced concrete rather than plaster. Rather than solid panels, each panel is only 2cm thick, vastly reducing the weight of each panel and allowing them to be much larger than previous installations. This process entailed the use of five original fabric-cast plaster patterns and subsequent rubber molds for the thin-shell concrete fabrication process.

Second, we were interested in exploring the boundary between modularity and repetition. At what point is something that is modular also repetitious? At what point does a pattern emerge that conflicts with a desired informal landscape? Using a tiling pattern of four panel sizes and five modules rotated in two directions, the pattern is never repeated across a total of thirty-four panels.

Third, using digital simulation models, a rough approximation of the wall was created virtually that allowed many more rounds of design iteration and testing in comparison with earlier projects in the series. Using a spring-network of meshes, the elastic fabric and the mass of the liquid plaster slurry could be modeled within an acceptable range of accuracy based on physical testing.

P_Wall (2013), by Matsys at the FRAC Centre, Orleans, France

P_Wall (2013), by Matsys at the FRAC Centre, Orleans, France

P_Wall (2013), by Matsys at the FRAC Centre, Orleans, France

IMG_9176P_Wall (2013), by Matsys at the FRAC Centre, Orleans, France_clean_1200









Year: 2009
Location: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Size: 45′ x 12′ x 1.5′

Description: P_Wall (2009) was commissioned by the SFMOMA Architecture and Design Curator Henry Urbach for the exhibition Sensate: Bodies and Design. The wall, part of a series started with P_Wall (2006), is an evolution of the earlier work exploring the self-organization of material under force. Using nylon fabric and wooden dowels as form-work, the weight of the liquid plaster slurry causes the fabric to sag, expand, and wrinkle.

From the exhibition text written by Henry Urbach:

Andrew Kudless’s P_Wall, commissioned by SFMOMA for this exhibition and its permanent collection, marks a radical reinvention of the gallery wall. Typically smooth, firm, regular and, by convention, “neutral,” the gallery wall has shed its secondary status to become a protagonist in the space it lines. Made of one hundred fifty cast plaster tiles — individually formed by pouring plaster over nylon stretched atop wooden dowels — the new wall possesses an unmistakable corporeal quality. Bulges and crevices; love handles and cleavage; folds, pockmarks, and creases: these are among the characteristics of human skin that come to the fore. Contemporary in its effort to capture dynamic forces in static form, P_Wall nonetheless has its origins in the experiments of earlier, 20th century architects including Antoní Gaudí and Miguel Fisác, both of whom investigated the potential of cast material to yield unique, sensual and, at times, bizarre shapes. P_Wall replaces the modern gallery wall with an unwieldy skin that can only approximate the fleshy enclosure that we, as human beings, inhabit throughout the course of our lives.

SFMoMA also produced a short video about the design and fabrication of the wall.

Credits: Andrew Kudless, Chad Carpenter, Dino Rossi, Dan Robb, Frances Lee, Dorothy Leigh Bell, Janiva Ellis, Ripon DeLeon, Ryan Chandler, Ben Golder, Colleen Paz

Weathering (P_Wall)







Seed in the studio

Seed in the studio

Year: 2009
Location: Not in a gallery

Description: The process of weathering is often intentionally resisted (if not completely forgotten) in most contemporary design. This is a legacy of Modernism and its fascination with minimal, timeless, and antiseptic materials. David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi have done an excellent job of mining this ground through architectural history in their book On Weathering (1993). They reveal in this book a long tradition in the design world of working with the act of weathering in a way that enhances the design concept over time. Rather than design in a way that presents the Sisyphean task of negating the influence of time on a project, they document other strategies architects have taken to accept that their buildings will have a life of their own after the drawing board.

This concept has been hovering in the background during the evolution of P_Wall (2006 / 2009) over the last 3 years. When people see the wall, they seem to have an inherent desire to touch it. The hint of softness, the evocative forms, the fabric textures all draw people in, seducing them to feel its rounded curves and deep creases. After each time it has been exhibited, a certain patina can be seen on the pieces: fingerprints here and there, scuffs from handling, etc.

This projects explores the potential weathering of P_Wall. Beyond the simple marks of humans in a gallery environment, the wall is located outside, open to the elements. The undulating forms would collect dust, pollen, soot over time. Moss would take root in the subtle groves of the fabric texture. Birds and other creatures would make the holes their homes.

This is not an exercise in Romanticism. The goal is not to produce a picturesque image of the wall. Rather, there is something about the wall that craves to be touched, to be made unclean, to be used, worn, soiled. Throughout the fabrication of the tiles, spiders would constantly be found making the holes their traps. A fine layer of soot, plaster and saw dust seemed to be constantly attached to the forms. This project accepts these intrusions on the “pure” form and makes them apart of the design. No more resistance, P_Wall accepts the life of the world and changes with it.



Oblique View


Front Elevation

Side View

Side View

Transformation of image into constraint points through the use of custom rhinoscript

Transformation of image into constraint points through the use of custom rhinoscript

Year: 2006
Location: Banvard Gallery, Knowlton School of Architecture, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Size: 15′ x 9′ x 1′

Description: This project investigates the self-organization of two materials, plaster and elastic fabric, to produce evocative visual and acoustic effects. Inspired by the work of the Spanish architect Miguel Fisac and his experiments with flexible concrete formwork in the 1960-70s, p_wall attempts to continue this line of research and add to it the ability to generate larger and more differentiated patterns. Starting from an image, a cloud of points is generated based on the image’s grayscale values. These points are then used to mark the positions of dowels which constrain the elasticity in the fabric formwork. Plaster is then poured into the mould and the fabric expands under the weight of the plaster. The resultant plaster tile has a certain resonance with the body as it sags, expands, and stretches in its own relationship with gravity and structure. Assembled into a larger surface, a pattern emerges between the initial image’s grayscale tones and the shadows produced by the wall.

Team: Andrew Kudless and Ivan Vukcevich with Ryan Palider, Zak Snider, Austin Poe, Camie Vacha, Cassie Matthys, Christopher Friend, Nicholas Cesare, Anthony Rodriguez, Mark Wendell, Joel Burke, Brandon Hendrick, Chung-tzu Yeh, Doug Stechschultze, Gene Shevchenko, Kyu Chun, Nick Munoz, and Sabrina Sierawski, and Ronnie Parsons