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Clay: Material Urbanism

Obuchi Lab | The University of Tokyo

Studio research project


Surjyatapa Ray, Campbell Argenzio, Alex Orsholits, Qian Yiyuan

This project explores the idea of material urbanism: urban conditions that are a derivative of the materials that synthesize the place. With rising questions on climate change and the contributions of the built environment to it, much consideration is being placed on sustainable design approaches and construction practices. Material urbanism looks into the materiality of the urban environment, and an immediate as well as prolonged effect effect such materials have. While reversing the damage is an ambitious aim, this project begs the question: could we insert elements in our urban environments that counter that adverse effects of harmful materials?

Clay seats, filled with wet sand that evaporate throughout the day and cool the surrounding area are explored in this context.

Project Details

The fabrication workflow involved developing a digital feedback system. A structured light scanning system chosen for its simplicity in capturing point cloud data for a spinning object. the setup involved a projector projecting a vertical line on the spinning clay, and a webcam set at an offset of 40 degrees from the projected line. Points projected on the clay are calculated based off the angle between the wbecam and the projector, thereby generating a real-time point cloud data collection.

Feedback is provided based on the logic of the seated geomtery, and to avoid potential structural collapse. This is done in the form of simple visual commands projected on the work area.

Scanning and guiding system credit: Alex Orsholits, Yiyuan Qian

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