Team 4 – 2nd Midterm F21 (T. Alshaibani, A. Gray, A. Hilton, K. Kittleson)

This site is located in the heart of SE Portland. Within the vibrant Sunnyside neighborhood, Portland Nursery reside just at the western base of Mt. Tabor. Around October, the winds from the Columbia River basin can pick up while the Portland rain returns. It is very likely that this event will have inclement weather but often the event is held on a sunny weekend. Much of the site faces South where the plants thrive and people can enjoy the autumn sun. Glencoe Elementary is the neighbor to the south where children can often be heard. During the event, there is a lot of foot traffic in the eastern and northern half of the site. Both green houses on the eastern border house many activities. The northern E-W path receives most traffic around the apple bin tent where guests flock to purchase many different apples.

Our team found that placing the performance space in the central area of the site near the northern E-W path and facing east, would acoustically engage the whole site. This centrality would also maximize the structure’s visibility, reinforcing the conceptual intention and therefore the event’s identity of fall-time celebration.

Two major case studies that influenced the decisions of this project also engaged with a folded plate system.

The first, a timber pavilion built next to the Vidy-Lausanne Theatre in Switzerland, studied various ways wood-working connections could be used. The initial prototype used a CNC router capable of making 5-axis cuts in CLT panels for dovetail joinery. This resulted in many different triangular parts and could lead to confusing on-site assembly. The finalized construction system changed to a double-layered interlocking plates. This reduced the number of different panels and created a more reliable construction system. The hollow gap between the two panels also offered this project the opportunity for insulation. While our group very much admired the clean corners and distinct faceting of the panels, neither connections fit our design criteria. Dovetail joinery may work for an arched geometry but not for our cantilever. The double-layered plates had potential, but the thickness of the overall structure was undesired and the thermal aspect unnecessary.

The second study was a smaller pavilion at the Plaza Escuelas Trevijano in Spain. This structure also engaged in the natural rigidity of the folded origami form but used hinges as the connections. This had brilliant design implications when light could shine through and the space-saving aspect of their foldability. Unfortunately, the clean corners were lost, the gaps would cause leakage during rain, and the strength of the hinges with our thicker, cantilevering plates was questioned. One aspect of the hinges was the inset plates of the hinge.

This inspired us to compose a connection with knife plates that could slip into the pre-fabricated gaps of another module.
Our design developed from a diagrid of gradually increased sizes of grid-cells. This diamond pattern aimed to capture the cellular and vein-like qualities found in deciduous leaves. The grid initially began as a framing system but shifted to a folded plate system. This change better integrated the structural needs of lateral bracing and cantilevering with the design concept.
MPP panels would be used for the lower base of the structure. A 4″ thickness would be used in the lowest panels for rigidity and dead weight while 2″ thickness would retain some rigidity while reducing weight. Finally, large cuts would perforate the cantilevering panels so that more weight could be shed thus minimizing shear and moment forces. This offered the opportunity to install a semi-translucent polycarbonate panel to allow light through, but keep rain out and retain rigidity. The twin-wall panel, a common horticultural product, was chosen to communicate with the architectural language of the surrounding greenhouses.

Architectural Drawing

Seating made from Cut-Outs

In order to reduce waste and maintain an identifiable language about the performance space, these folding chairs were devised to be quickly put together and give the audience a comfortable place to sit.

Pre-Fabricated Diamond Modules

The structure would arrive on site with a series of prefabricated diamonds. These would stacked to save space and reduce confusion associated with finding the right piece during on-site construction. The modules would have a knife plate partially exposed to slide into the next module and then be bolted together. This process would happen laying down and then be tilted up onto the stage for anchoring.

Connection Details

Structural Analysis

Reflections and Moving Forward

This midterm we were able to refine our design intentions and structural systems with the insights gained from the previous midterm. The folded plate structural system, as well as the overall presentation design, received positive reviews. There were several aspects of the project that were touched on for further refinement.

-Our site analysis had strong visuals and provided important information, but one question left with us was how does it relate to our decision making? What about this analysis affects what we do next?
-In terms of our folded plates, one reviewer asked, how could the triangle geometry be optimized for manufacturing? Reducing waste percentage is a very important goal. In addition to this thought of geometry optimization, the simplification of angles at which plates meet would greatly ease the confusion of processing, prefabrication and on-site construction.
-The overall shape of our structure implies the possibility of intense wind catching. It was pointed out that very sturdy anchors would be needed and a thorough investigation of this grounding would benefit the project.
-The durability in weather is another aspect of the structure that needs attention. Whether there is some covering the wood or even log oil applied, the lifetime of this structure would be greatly reduced without protection.

Going forward, our group looks to address these aspects and more. Using physical models, digital models, and deeper research into applied materials and technology will take our project from midterm quality to final review caliber.

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