Warming Hut 2016

Today we were able to construct our first successful cable guided fabric formed origami pattern.  The structure is a modified barrel vault that possesses load bearing (spanning) capacities and also seeks a transition from a larger scaled opening at the front to a smaller opening at the back. This will help with fitting the structure underneath the sloping cable net above. As can be seen here, we have decided to forego the cable guided valleys as sharp transitions for a gravity induced sag which produces a catenary curved section in the valleys which will (in theory) give us a form capable of transferring load paths more efficiently in each diamond shaped “beam” spanning from node to node. Once iced, these beams will become the units that construct the spanning arches over the interior.

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Using optimal stress flow patterns developed by Caitlin Mueller and her team at MIT we tested a new cable pattern linking three main anchor points on the site (two areas along the shoreline and the lighthouse). By distributing the loads of the fabric structures between these three areas this cable pattern allows us to distribute the load evenly along the cables, achieve enough stiffness in the cable net to pull up to with sufficient tension, as well as create lateral stiffness (from the horizontal funicular outer most boundary cables) to be able to pull at angles down to the ice. This video shows a time lapse of us constructing the cable that onto our 1:10 physical model.

Today we began to explore possible cable arrangements to connect the lighthouse (the black pole) to the surrounding water pier mooring posts (screws around the perimeter shoreline) on our 1:10 scale physical model.  This new patterning study will allow us to explore the creation of several smaller buildings as an alternative to the singular larger structure we have been studying to date.

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The pattern used to create the first origami form was studied to translate the folding of paper to the linking of cables to form the ridges and valleys. In order to do this we proposed that the fabric layer being folded would form ridges through the use of cables pulling from under the fabric, and form valleys through the cables pulling down on top of the fabric. This approach allowed us to divide a standard folding pattern into two separate patterns, a ridge pattern and a valley pattern. In physical form this would allow us to first construct a ridge cable pattern, then introduce a fabric layer and then conclude with a valley cable pattern on the top. The intersections of the valley and ridge patterns would be then coupled through a hole in the fabric.


By using an odd number of spaces between intersection points in the x and y directions, we are able to achieve a continuous woven pattern using a single cable for both the ridge and valley patterns.We first began to test this approach by leaving out the fabric and only building the cable model of the origami pattern. We used posts (screws) on a plywood sheet to weave the ridge pattern and valley patterns and zip tied them together. After attaching leads to each intersection we used the digital model to locate appropriate anchor points and then used a wooden frame to pull the intersections of strings to. The resulting form is shown in the pictures here. Because of the inaccuracies of the construction and the varying tensions in the pulled points the pattern had loose and overly taught areas, but the overall form was achieved as hoped. We will next try to introduce a fabric layer into the this assembly method.


Our interest in the direction of this project is to construct a relationship been the digital and physical design process so that one feeds into the other and influences the methods of full scale construction.

In this project we intend to utilize an origami folding pattern with a fabric formed ice sheet. The advantage of using origami as a forming technique is that it has the ability to produce rigid stable forms with shear planes, can be formed using non-stretch materials, and made using non-customized sheet patterns.

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In order to do this, we are intending to use high-tensioned cables to form the mountains and valleys in the folding pattern to shape the fabric panel. This process will require a translation to move from the techniques required to produce a folded rigid non-stretch plane (like paper) to a edge formed pattern that guides a non-stretch but pliable fabric plane. To begin this we developed a grasshopper model in order to visualize the folding pattern in real time. This model allowed us to develop a pattern language of “valleys” and “ridges” and to choreograph the forces required to manipulate this pattern through Grasshopper and Kangaroo 2. We are beginning with a simple folded pattern that would create a folded barrel vault (capable of being self supporting with an anchored base). With this test pattern we are attempting to find the mechanical behaviour of the ridges and valleys and the points of intersection which join them. Once this is achieved we will use this technique to allow for the exploration and rapid visualization of other origami folding patterns.

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The ongoing intent of the digital script is to mimic the physical properties of the material (cable, fabric) and actions (via construction techniques) being used in this project. This allows for the study of the digital through the representation of the physically built structure. At the present time the grasshopper script only mimics ridged body typologies (such as timber struts or planer faces) and not rope or cable topological forms.

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Utilizing the techniques of photographic reconstruction (photogrammetry) we surveyed the site of the project with a small quad copter. This fly over allowed for the capture of a single video with intersecting flight paths so that post processing of the video would result in a high overlap of imagery which is conducive to photogrammetry reconstruction of a dense point cloud.

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The reconstructed 3 dimensional point cloud was then aligned with our on site measurements and scaled appropriately. The computational reconstruction was run through Pix4D. The 1:1 point cloud was then brought into Rhino to be used as a graphic for future development and as a tool for accurate site measurements. The images here show the resulting point cloud and overall measurements of the site we intend to work on.POST_1_Point Cloud_Plan

The 2016 Faculty of Architecture Warming Hut for the University of Manitoba is a multi-disciplinary research project that seeks to explore the potential use of the built and natural environment to shape a temporary structure for the frozen river trail of the Forks in Winnipeg. This project is led by Associate Professor Lancelot Coar (Department of Architecture), Instructor Kim Wiese (Environmental Design), and Jason Hare (FABLab) and will examine how the digital and physical realms of parametric design and construction can produce a unique high-tensioned cable formed fabric and ice structure at a large scale.

The team of this project includes the participation of students from across the Faculty of Architecture as well as Assistant Professor Caitlin Mueller from the Digital Structures Research Group at MIT, and Professor Lars De Laet with æLab at Vrije University.

This blog documents the design, fabrication and construction phases of this project leading up to the construction date in late January 2016.