Imbricated Surfaces

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Studio Instructor(s)

Kenneth Tracy

Imbricated surfaces, those articulated using overlapped parts, cover many natural and synthetic bodies. From palm fronds to reptile scales to bird feather to roof tiles, this articulation type enables impressive performative qualities in terms of flexibility and fluid interactions. As a strategy for architecture enabled by current digital modeling and simulation tools, imbricated surfaces can variably filter air and light while permitting fabrication tolerances. Surfaces articulated in this way can be calibrated to simultaneously intensify breezes, shield radiant heat, allow in ambient light and seal against rain. With such fine control of thermal performance and air flow comes the possibility to create an architectural aesthetic using both seen and unseen sensations.

Imbricated Surfaces Studio reconsidered passive environmental approaches to building in the tropics through the design of a shelter for the Singapore National Parks Board (NParks). The integrated studio combined environmental simulation, structural optimization and fabrication information into a sequence of physical and digital models. Students worked individually and in small groups initially proposing over 200 schemes and refining these until there were two final schemes. Computational and heuristic approaches were used in parallel to combine intuitive physical model refinements and multiobjective optimization.

Working together with the Singapore National Parks Board, students located, programed, designed and prototyped a small (30sqm+/-) shade structure to enhance a park connector. Located between East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East, the site acts as a cycling and walking corridor woven between two highways and the Marina Bay Golf Course.