Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pecha Kucha : The Geometry of Desire

Coinciding with the ending of our Zonotopia fundraiser was a Pecha Kucha event which emphasized Burningman projects so I took the opportunity to tell the story of Zonotopia.  The theme was Desire.  It was a great time and everyone laughed in all the right places.

The Geometry of Desire

In 2005, I was working as a software engineer. It was then that I began a journey into the world of zonotopal architecture. Here are a few of the paper models I built to begin educating myself in the structural systems of space.

To manifest a desire one should state an intention. In 2006 I started a fabrication studio and this model was one of the first things I cut on my cnc and it was a declaration of intention as you will soon see.

In my studies of different coordinate systems and explorations of non-rectilinear geometries I learned that computer architecture is a dangerous place were magic is easy. It's quite difficult to build something completely new in the real world and that works.

 In 2009 we built the first Zome of Zonotopia, the Bodhisattva Zome. It defines a space where people can enter and not feel enclosed, to see and to be seen. It creates a form which is compelling and beautiful or in a word... Desirable.

 And in 2010 at Burningman Zonotopia consisted of two Zomes. The original eight frequency Bodhisattva Zome and seen here a newer 20' tall twelve frequency Zome. You can determine the frequency by counting the number of petals which emanate from the center.

I call this collection of zonohedral pavilions Zonotopia: The Once and Future Utopia of Zomes,
because now that I understand how simple they are I see no reason that they could not have existed long, long ago.

As this acrobat can attest, when properly constructed Zomes are incredibly strong. All of my Zomes are built entirely with interlocking wooden fasteners and we don't burn them. They will be heading to the playa this year for the third and hopefully not the last time.

To me Zonotopia represents not only possibility of what might be but also of what once might have been. Imagine if this were only the top of an ancient larger structure. What would that structure be?

What would a would an ancient people, knowledgable and skilled in this architectural space build had they the means? And were I allowed to continue digging down to unearth it what sort of undreamt of wonders might I find?

This is how a cube may propagate a helix in 3-space. Polar Zonohedra are hyper dimensional cubes which when transformed in similar fashion create polytopes in their higher dimensions which cast volumious, helical shadows into our 3 space.

This is the design for Zonotopia 2011. A 35' tall tower I call the Miracula Mirabilis. And the fact that it can be constructed using the same panel and connectors from last years Zome even blew my mind.

Now that the design was nailed down our next task was straightforward. Raise the money. So on a rare and beautiful hot day in San Francisco we set up our Zome in Dolores Park to kick off our Indiegogo fundraiser. We set up in a little over an hour.

Unfortunately police came and shut us down almost immediately. And then, to add insult to injury we were labeled Renegade Hippies by the local Mission Blog. We may be renegades but we're no hippies.

Furthering the fundraising efforts I made this 1/8th scale model of the Miracula Mirabilis. This model and models like it are some of our donation rewards. This one is currently on dislay at Coffee Bar, just a block from my fabrication studio. 

Production is well underway. This is one unit of 1" ACX Pine. One of the great challenges on a project like this is how to minimize waste, maximize efficiency and create systems where friends and supporters can come into the shop and help.

 Our joinery systems have evolved and become more sophisticated. To the lower right is one of the new panels fresh off the cnc. The curvy connectors I call frogs and are a new design created to easily and accurately join parts together.

This is my frog editor. Not only do these forms create a positively locking joint but both positive and negative can be efficently cut in a single continuous pass. Generally something of this complexity would take too much time to be cost effective.

Based on the joinery need at hand Frogs come in many shapes and proportions. Here you see the first Legion of my Wooden Frog Army coming off the cnc and I'm making more every day...soon I will be invincible.

Zonotopia would not exist and none of this would be possible without the help and love of my friends and supporters. I'm doubly blessed to be able to manifest this madness and to have such wonderful people encouraging and helping me to do it.

If you like what you see and you'd like to see this and more of what still lies underground, I encourage you to help us with our fundraising efforts on idiegogo. I look forward to seeing you under a Zome on the playa and beyond.

Thank you one and all.


Aaron said...

Is the Zome you're setting up this year going to have a rigging point? I'm part of an Aerial community from Boulder/Denver Colorado and it would be amazing to get to do Aerial in one of your structures.


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