Written by Stefana Simic, Co-Founder Gigagrass
Making a physical architectural model is a fascinating exercise. It is on the one hand a 3D representation of a design and proof of concept but on the other hand, the model itself and construction thereof is a protagonist in its own right, a thing of wonder, with its own technique, devotion and craft. We were inspired to commit a few months, with full time dedicated work of our in-house team, to developing these series of models iterating a new construction technique utilizing laminated bamboo straps and simple metal joinery.
We harvested bamboo from our own garden, cut and shaved strips, boiled them in water and curved them according to very precise templates printed to scale that were derived from technical digital models and CAD drawings.
The models represent designs for light-weight "nomadic" structures to be covered in textiles, and easily assembled in remote locations. Some of these designs form part of the Caravane Village project, which is an undergoing initiative being developed in collaboration with Caravane Foundation. The first full scale prototype of the Caravane Village will be inaugurated at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2021 (originally scheduled for 2020).
Here are recommendations for books and essays touching on the subject of architecture and design that will surely inspire you and influence the way you think about the space, not just as a geometric construct, but as a 4D emotional space. Let us know if you have any other recommendations! We are always looking for a good read.
In Praise of Shadows
The Poetics of Space
In The Cause of Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright
Building, Dwelling, Thinking (Essay)
AD Italia features our private home and studio in latest issue November 2020. Simon Velez started constructing the property over 50 years ago when his father gave him a money gift which Simon used to buy a small plot in the historic center of Bogota, back then a very run down and dangerous sector of the city but attractive to the local bohemians. Since then, he has bought the neighboring lots and parceled together an expansive property on which he has developed a number of structures, each one for a different family member. As Simon´s eclectic family grew, so did his house.
AD Italia features only some of the structures. The little blue house (la casita) was his first structure made out of wooden elements, the tall red tower built out of concrete, recycled stones, and bamboo (el mausoleo), and the main house (casa azul) which he shares with his wife and co-founder of Gigagrass design practice.
Photographs by Francesco Dolfo and text by Elena Dallorso.
With the criteria that this pavilion had to be prefabricated and disassemblable (with the idea to tour other international locations), the design process changed. The joinery had to be completely rethought. The bamboo had to be pre-cut to millimetric precision and categorized before being shipped. The shrinkage of the bamboo diameter while it travels overseas had to be taken into account when we designed, dimensioned and fabricated the metal joinery. All the angles of the bamboo unions had to be calculated, the radii of the curved pipes had to be determined, all to third decimal precision. There was no space for error: all of the thousands of pieces had to be perfect and ready to mount when the site opened for construction in Arles, France.
We worked intensely, and in parallel, with the engineering and construction team in France to develop the project and bring it to fruition. Our in house design team at the time was only 2 people, Simon with a pencil in hand and Stefana, handling the computers and detailed technical drawings for production. The engineer and construction manager in France were following in parallel with all their heavy work and open minds, as we were all embarking on doing something completely new.
More information about the exhibition here: