Holographic Fabrication of Woven Steel Structures
The Woven Steel Pavilion is a structure that was assembled over 3 days by students working entirely by hand from holographic models rather than drawn documentation or with automated processes. The design demonstrates that augmented reality (AR) can transform the efficacy and applications of cheap and readily available analogue tools, reinvigorate traditional craftsmanship by augmenting hand and material skills with the precision and formal possibilities of digital modelling and engage laypersons in emerging technology through collaborative approaches to learning through making within shared holographic environments.
The construction industries reliance on 2D documentation results in well known inefficiencies, redundancies and the complete impracticality of novel architectural exploration. Our shared holographic environments eliminate these redundancies by displaying design models at scale and in the context of a construction environment. Critically, holographic models democratize the understanding of design intent, enabling all collaborators (contractors, students, stakeholders or other designers) to more effectively contribute their expertise to a design project.
Any industry working with 3D content will benefit from contextual holographic descriptions of design intent. The woven steel pavilion demonstrated that this technology can immediately impact the financial feasibility of complex architectural structures as a design consisting of 90 unique parts could be fabricated with cheap tools and unskilled labour in an extremely short time frame. This will have social and environmental implications as bespoke, site specific designs working with non standard structures, materials or processes become achievable with readily available technology.
Our AR design platform was implemented in every stage of the design-build process of the Woven Steel Pavilion. Holographic modelling replaced modelling on screen resulting in faster design iteration with a collaborative and intuitive modelling toolkit. Holographic fabrication was used to assemble parts and turn a cheap steel bender into a precision machine, but similar approaches could be applied to any tool or tradecraft (carpentry, welding, forming, sculpture etc). AR was also used to digitize and analyze the as-built structure with implications for engineering and QA/QC in building design.
The Woven Steel pavilion is the first architectural-scale structure in the world to utilize holographic models for design, fabrication, assembly and post-build analysis. It demonstrates that radical architectural propositions can be feasible without access to large budgets, research laboratories, experts or complex CNC equipment. Fabrication by hand and eye offers a designers a return to material thinking and craft, and offers an alternative to predominant paradigms of prefabrication, standardization and mass manufacturing.
We produced a short video documenting the outcome and approach that illustrates some of the technical aspects described above.