Architectural prototyping can be defined as a process of making a scaled-down model of the final building. For architects and designers making prototype is one of the most significant medium which encourage communication between the architects/designers and other relevant collaborated professionals in the project team.  Architectural prototype allows information to be embedded and represented through the medium. What actually can be handled or represented by this kind of medium – prototype? of course it would be a limited amount of information regarding to the objectives of the prototype itself. Here, we put MP Tower 1.0 prototype and its prototyping process as a case of study.

MP Tower Generated Building Envelope

In the previous posting, we have describe about the form generation process. The prototyping of MP Tower 1.0 skin can be seen as a further step in the skin design/form generation process —on where the digital information should be well preserved and translated into a scaled-down physical model through production machine. Beside the prototype represents the expression of the building skin, it also simulates some particular qualities that quite difficult to be perceived in 2 dimensional information. Our objectives for the MP tower 1.0 prototyping is to inform qualities such as: shading qualities, spatial depth, detail and complexity of geometry that related to construction, etc. These objectives are selected according to prototype scale and machine which gave constraints and limitation of what kind of information that can be conveyed.

Prototype scale/dimension

The final scale/dimension of the architectural prototype gives significant consequences to the kind of information that possible to be conveyed. As requested by the client −PT Arga Calista Desain−, the dimension of the arch. prototype should ease for presentation purpose, which was decided that the overall height of the model equal to 30 cm. Through this size of the prototype, the information that possible to be conveyed are the constructional geometric complexity and building articulation that facilitated by the overall expression of the building envelope. Therefore, there is no necessity to build the architectural entities of the inner space of the building.

MP Tower envelope – prototyping test

Prototyping Machine

Formologix was collaborated with Orogen Workshop to study and build the prototype using 3d printer machine that works on and additive principle −FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling). The build volume of this FDM-machine is limited to 24.6 L X 15.2 W X 15.5 H cm. FDM-machine will build the prototype by laying down material (ABS, thermoplastic, PLA,etc.) in layers vertically, as it convert the mesh geometry into mathematical slices in STL format. Some “bad”- geometry/mesh might result an error during STL conversion resulting “bad”-STL. It is often difficult to detect the bad-STL. The limit capabilities on slicing error detection of the STL in the preparation process became another constraint during prototyping process. Most of error −the glitch− might shown up during the printing process, which will interrupt and terminate the printing process.

Printing progress using FDM type of 3D printer (image courtesy of Orogen workshop)

This situation might cost a big time and material consuming, and the best strategy to solve that problem is to divide the model into several parts.

MP’s Parts