Playing with blocks
I have long admired the Cossitt Cottages, a row of 4 simple houses built by San Diego’s first modern architect, Irving J Gill, in 1910 (first image). They are essentially the same cube house repeated 4 times (second image). A kit of parts consisting of arches, garden walls, and a small roof, is applied to each house in a different way. As the houses step back from the street they get another arch. Each house is a little different and feels unique. This is a very simple but powerful way of differentiating similar houses without resorting to applied surface decoration.
I combined my interest in the Cottages with 3D printing to make a set of Gill/Cossitt Cottages building blocks (third image). The blocks let you “build” each of the 4 cottages (fourth image) and illustrate the “kit of parts” approach (fifth image). I made a prototype set of the blocks and the instructions/history page, all fitting in a clear plastic box. When folded in the box, the instruction sheet becomes the label for the set .
This set is one of the initial projects I have undertaken with the Irving J Gill Foundation. We hope to have it available soon.
Recently I have been looking into and learning about 3D printing. It allows me to convert my digital models into 3D models. This is done using a 3D printer, which is a cross between a laser jet printer and a hot glue gun. The model is “printed” in layers of melted plastic. The layers cool and stick together and voila! you have a 3D model.
When you 3D print buildings from a digital model you need to scale down the model. Your 40′ long wall is translated into a 2″ long plane.This requires interpretation of the design and modification of the model. Thin parts of the actual building get too thin when printed in a scaled-down model.These thin parts need to be thickened, adjusting the model for the limits of the printer while keeping the overall sense of the design. These models are roughly 2″ to 4″ on each side.
Print 1: tile (top image)
I thought it would be easiest to print something that was in flat layers. I chose a tile designed by my friend and architect James B. Guthrie. It is meant to be made from stacked layers of computer cut steel and is inspired by the designs of the architect Louis Sullivan.
It was fun to do and I learned a lot, but not so easy – all those curves and layers!
Print 2: Schindler’s McAlmon Apartment (lower three images)
Feeling more confident, I wanted to try a 3D print of a building. I chose my favorite test Schindler, his McAlmon Apartment. I focused just on the Schindler designed front. I love the way it turned out.
Stay tuned for part 2, 3D printing architectural building blocks