Texas A&M College of Architecture students on the Lake Team, including Shelby Frank of Danbury, Anna Schaper of Houston, Rachel Giles of Fort Worth, and Kenny Gilbert of Lufkin, explain the design and construction of their sculpture that depicts Hurricane Harvey rainfall.
The teams were given the choice of triangulated, shingled, ruled or 3-D printed elements to create their surfaces. With computer-controlled machines in the college’s Automated Fabrication and Design Lab at the Riverside campus, they fabricated the elements of their 3-dimensional sculptures from a variety of materials and put them together by hand.
Hood and his Peak teammates used wood, PVC plastic, illustration board and copper wire to create their sculpture. They cut wooden ribs resembling the wavy branches of an oak tree for their foundation, and they created “waterfall-like” surfaces that conformed to the curvy underlying structure with PVC plastic triangles connected by copper wire and rectangles cut from illustration board, with a gap in the middle to expose the structural system.
They precisely measured and cut approximately 150 triangles from white PVC plastic, punched holes in the corners and tied them together with copper wire for the upper half of their sculpture, and they cut more flexible rectangles, or shingles, from illustration board for the lower half.
“We chose shingles because it imitates the roof of a house, like the houses destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, and the triangulated surfaces imitate the canopy of a tree which can be seen as growth, or what is to come from the destruction of Hurricane Harvey,” Hood said. “The crack in the surface can relate to a sense of damage done, and the united triangulated and shingled surfaces can relate to a sense of rigidity and strength.”
Beyond the exercise in symbolism, the project allowed students to combine digital with tactile—to manipulate numbers to create curvature in the computer and to translate those surfaces to sculptures, Clayton said. The students also learned to collaborate as members of a team, an essential skill for any architect.
“In a few years, we will graduate, and we will still have damage in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, and the underlying truth is that this might be what we focus on for the next 10 years,” Hood said. “We will be helping not only to fix what has happened, but to help plan for the future to prevent these circumstances through design of buildings and design of cities.”
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