Students in three first-year Texas A&M environmental design studios designed and built elegant, self-supporting, easy-to-assemble plywood arches that were featured by Arch2O, a website that showcases uncommon, undiscovered and impressive approachesto architecture, design, and art.
Students familiar with designing structures that can be built and disassembled quickly can apply that knowledge to larger, more complex structures, said Negar Kalantar, an assistant professor of architecture who led one of the studios.
“Structures that can be quickly built without access to sophisticated tools are urgently needed, for example, by communities recovering from natural disasters,” she said.
Students designed the arches using 3-D software, then built them from sheets of plywood they fabricated with a laser cutter in the college’s Automated Fabrication & Design Lab at Texas A&M's Riverside Campus.
With guidance from Kalantar and Alireza Borhani, who led two of the studios, the students then nipped, folded and bent the fabricated plywood and used a variety of techniques to fasten the pieces.
The project unfolded in two stages. First, students cut and formed paper to create initial concepts and then recreated the concepts using plywood. There work took a variety of forms ranging from small study models to various joint and detail models at different scales.
“They learned that changing building materials changed the properties of their final forms,” said Kalantar. “In other words, these forms were not driven simply by geometry, but also by material properties.”