04 Skylar VoltaDom

I had the opportunity to work with Skylar and the VoltaDominators on helping to realize the final details of the installation. I chose to work on the clip detail in the first week of production and also put together the final PDF pages for our presentation. The next week some of us worked on a small section of a scale model and we finished a full arch aggregation of panels.

To complete fabrication of a 200 panel installation, the project will require an incredible amount of labor. My connection detail hoped to limit the hand tools required and simplify the entire relationship between panel and rib. Through the first test, I cut an enclosed rib with slots and tested 4 different clip variations on each panel edge. You can see in the photos below that the clips did not come close to working. I realize that thickness and length play a large role when you attempt to bend the plastic along its most rigid side.


For the second set of tests, I cut a much broader range or clips and iterated through a series of testing and recutting. In the photos you can see the summation of all these tests. A major problem with this detail is when the clip initially interfaces with the aluminum, the harsh metal cuts the much softer plastic and disallows a press fit snap.

This was resolved by elongating the fingers of the clip to allow insertion and pinching to snap the clip into the joint. Unfortunately, with the lack of actual plastic material, the clip becomes mutable and no longer maintains its original shape. Perhaps through more rigorous and time intensive study, a working clip could be created, but we had much better and stronger solutions readily available.


Since the installation has an inordinate amount of stress joints that are difficult to assess on paper (or computer), we decided to build a 1/8 scale model which might give us hints as to where we might anticipate difficulties. We cut the panels and ribs out of Bristol paper, but doubled up the thickness of ribs. Also to ease construction, we had the tabs lengthened 3x to allow us to attach them to the ribs. Overall, the structure is fairly stable and with the strength of the aluminum, we expect all the forces to balance reasonably well.

We actually cut all 200 panels and all the ribs, but the process of gluing and holding was taking far too long and we thought building a free-standing arch would suffice as a representative model.

4.196 Special Problems in Architectural Design Complete Fabrications Nick Gelpi Mon-Fri, Jan 5-7, 10-11, 13-14, 18, 20-21, 24-25, 27-28, 01-04:00pm, 3-402/7-432studio, 1st mtg Wed 1/5 Pre-register on WebSIS and attend first class. No listeners Prereq: Permission of instructor ; Yr-1 MArch students who have completed 4.123 only Level: H 9 units Standard A - F Grading Can be repeated for credit Lab Fee: 150 A comprehensive introduction to methods of “making” explored through a wide range of brief but focused exercises. Skills = developing complex geometries from flat components; fine-tuning press fit construction, molding and casting, and making repeatable molds for customization. A two-part workshop, the first half will contextualize contemporary tools and techniques within the trajectories of historical case studies of building, combined with hands on familiarization of tools. The second half will implement the tools of our workshop in the context of Design. Working on group design build process for three MIT 150 FAST installations, students will test and influencing designs through the instrumentality of production. These hands-on design build projects are intended to produce reciprocity between skills and design, making more complete the problems of fabrication. Subject limited to year-one MArch students who have completed core-1 studio. Contact: Nick Gelpi, 9-224, 253-9415, -


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