By drawing from our historically predominant obsession with the heavy and the permanent, La Voûte de LeFevre Installation re-examines our current addiction to the thin. The rapid, efficient and surface-oriented digital fabrication is used as a modern equivalent of ancient stone carving, marrying the two major architectural parameters – surface and volume. Designed by the New York based Matter Design, the project was preceded by an extensive research dealing with the economically friendly sheet material, while maintaining a common thread of a dedication to volume.
Some of the earlier project that paved the path to La Voûte de LeFevre dealt with volumetric occupation through bending from 2d to 3d. More recently this desire has formalized into stereotomic research (the art of cutting solids, most typically stone). These projects mined the past knowledge of stereotomy as a way to robotically carve foam for temporary installations. The irony of these projects is they apply knowledge from heavy stone construction to light temporary projects that require tensile cables to stand.
“The vault is computed with a solver-based model that elicits a compression-only structure, from a non-ideal geometry. The model requires a fixed geometry as input, and opens apertures in order to vary the weight of each unit. This dynamic system re-configures the weight of the units based on a volumetric calculation. If unit A contains twice the volume of unit B, then unit A weights twice as much. It requires that the material of the project be consistent, and solid (hollow does not work). The computed result produces a project that will stand ‘forever’ as there is zero tension in the system precisely because of the weight and volume of the project, and not in spite of it.
The vault is produced with Baltic Birch plywood. The plywood is sourced in three quarter inch thick sheets awaiting the ‘thickening’. Each custom unit is dissected and sliced into these thicknesses, cut from the sheets, and then physically re-constituted into a rough volumetric form of their final geometry. These roughs are indexed onto a full sheet and glued, vacuum pressed, and re-placed onto the CNC (computer numerically controlled) router.”