Suspending an Acclivity

Par Deshayes Charlotte, Dürig Alexander, Hausel Anna, Sills Sophie, 19/11/19

The meeting of a horizontal and a vertical plane. The Rolex Learning Center. A reference to Measures.

A common denominator: Levitation.

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Left : measures plasters,

Top : Rolex Learning Center curve,

Bottom central left : RLC curve,

Bottom central right : brainstorming levitation,

right : levitation definition.

Taken by the way the Rolex Center seemed to rise up and separate from the ground, we began to study this acclivity.

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Mapping the curve of the RLC.

After modelling potentials, we found a few integral elements to the project, as well as a coherent form for our project to take. 

The "integral elements":

  • A curved plane that follows the initial curve of the Rolex above head height.
  • This plane is suspended from the vertical plane.
  • The vertical plane is formed by columns of the same, or similar, composition to those of last year's Houses project.
  • A structural horizontal plane that supports the vertical and hold the cables.
  • The length of this must be at least two paces to encourage movement.

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Verifying alignment on site.

The puzzle pieces:

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The parts of the 1:10 maquette.

Theoretically on site:

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Left : maquette on site,

Right : perspective drawing. 

A new axis: Movement.

More people walk alongside the building than towards it, at least during our alignment to the beginning of the curve. 

Stepping up onto the raised platform, we enter the interior of the project. The curved plane rises, opening the space under it, the curve of the base also curves outward. Two paces, and a oblique curve dangling above. The juncture of the vertical and the horizontal uncertain, merely touching, unattached. There is no new space created by it. The joint is simply a perimeter of the extent of the interior, the two-dimensional limit separating in from out.

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Various views of the 1:10 maquette. 

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Hand drawings of the first itterations of the project.

Having calculated we would need 80m of wood to complete this project in real size, we decided to alter it somewhat. First of all, we simplified the base, removing the solid layer of wood, just keeping the framework that stabilises the pillars. We also chose to add a system of supporting joints to keep them upright. The mass of the original base having been the stabilising element of the structure, we realised that balance needed to be reinstalled. So we duplicated our hovering plane, the two twin planes framing the Rolex's acclivity. This opened up a new door to our project, adding a new aspect of movement, a tension between the hanging planes and strengthening the relationship with the RLC.

Image Sat Nov 30 2019 14:12:26 GMT+0100 (CET)  Image Fri Jun 12 2020 18:12:22 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Left : initial test in real (reduced) size.

Right : The two bases.

(top : final structure, reducing wood, but keeping the stability,

bottom : initial structure, referencing the curve of the acclivity.)

We also decided to reduce the size of the pillars by 0.5m. This length is also the difference between the heights of the two suspended planes. On site, originally, the "curves" would aline with the Rolex behind it. 

A challenge awaited us : the realisation of the suspended planes. Using the 1:10 model, we played with methods of structure.

Image Fri Jun 12 2020 18:12:22 GMT+0200 (CEST)  Image Fri Jun 12 2020 18:12:22 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Left : images of our theoretical plane,

Right : assembly of the pieces.

Additionally we experimented with the materiality and the shape of the curved planes by making 1:10 models in plaster.

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Left : a visual experiment: what if the suspended planes were made of plaster 

- photo assembly : plaster created in 1:10, wood in 1:1,

Right : the making of the plaster piece.

The final construction:

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Top left : assembly pieces for the 1:1 model,

Top central left : assembling the 1:1 model,

Top central right : side view of suspended plane,

Top right : suspension details,

Bottom : finished model.

The project overall reminds us of the for of Joel Shapiro's Almine Rech exhibition:

Image Sat Nov 30 2019 18:14:08 GMT+0100 (CET) [Oct 09 - Nov 12, 2014]

The sentence that was most often spoken:

"But, how will that hold?"

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Finally, the structure ended up being much stronger than expected,

even supporting the weight of a person.