Fluidity and Plasticity

Los Angeles, CA, US
Materiality Exploration
Academic_Research (UCLA_AUD)
Research Complete

Julia Koerner

Robotic Lab Manager:

Tyson Keen Phillips


Zhoufan Chen, Shundi Zhan

Clay as the conventional pottery material has been used for thousand of years to create uncountable numbers of elegant but multi-dimensional forms. The material is simply transform from fluid form to solid form. As a counterpart of well-known building materials like cement and concrete, clay is a great source to explore the potential application in building industry and to achieve certain architectural idea to some extent. The quality to control the softness and hardness of clay gives a range of the flexibility of the physical property during the fabrication. It is an affordable and mouldable material. At the two sides of the threshold of the heating, it has both the fluidity and plasticity and the strength and stiffness, which is not only about the two different status but also a domain of flexibility existing in-between these two conditions. With the assistance of additive manufacturing and robotic technology, precision and freedom of form can be achieved simultaneously. The relationship of human craftsmanship and digital fabrication with robotic arm is being researched. It introduces a more generative and intimate apparatus for architects to elevate the architectural idea together with the development of the advanced technology. It is also possible to separate the layers in some parts during the extruding of clay and drying period, and to use the pre-drying tool to set the shape. It introduces the potential for natural ventilation in facades. Rather than using the subtraction or addition process, it only alters the extruding course and introduces the drying technique to equip the clay panel with both aesthetic and functional features. Textures on the surfaces of tectonics hint to the material’s associated construction methods, in specific the layering of bricks, formwork pattern in concrete, patterns of stucco on the wall, layers of loam wall and so forth. Similarly observing the layering aesthetic of 3d printing and contour grafting is investigated as a design tool while constructing form. The main ambition of this research focuses on the new articulations with clay: separations of clay layers, apertures created between layers, reinforced structure, colouring clay and different finishes; Incorporating interactive devices potentially expands the discourse of digital fabrication with the material.

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