[Research Background]   The pursuit of this research was to develop a methodology to create complex structural systems within a parametric framework and to develop a criteria for assessing and discussing their success.  They each began with a simple intention and developed through their respective processes to be far more interesting than expected.  The methodology refined by these studies mandated a practiced understanding of the material processes involved as well as a dependence on feed back from iteration.    Parametric Theory, was not assumed to be inherently linked to digital algorithmic computation, but rather an exciting theoretical framework that has tremendous analog implications as well.  It is believed that the current conflagration of computational systems has served to expose us to a world that was perhaps already inherent to us, one that can and should be pursued by a multitude of techniques and art forms.    Each of these systems began with a vague intention.  Then components and connection strategies were invented to best carry out the intention.  As material and process realities affected the assembly of the systems, new limits and opportunities arose and were evaluated against the original intention, providing added authorship potential.   Intentions   This system marked a shift in the development of case studies to a larger scale with added functional parameters. It was developed to express the ability of an everyday material, plywood, to perplex and amaze. Additionally, it had to perform the tasks of storing thousands of material samples while also defining the nature of the space it was to be built in.   Components   Developed slightly differently from the previous studies, this system is composed of a set number of compression parts that each have strategic angle variations between their connection points. Additionally there are consistently shaped tension members that lock everything together. These all assemble to form a square grid of “cubby” like storage spaces.   Aggregation/Mutation Strategy   This system is a set of dissimilar parts with a constant connection strategy. Mutation occurs in this system by selecting one of four different angled parts during assembly. The parts lock together and carry all forces without glue or mechanical fasteners. If composed of parts with zero degrees of difference, the system will be flat. When composed of 45 degree angle parts, the entire system will shift along a 45 degree axis. By combining different angles for vertical and horizontal shifts, the system begins to develop more complex formal behaviors while retaining the regular grid necessary for storage.   Result   This system was the first to develop under the parameters of a real architectural program. It was designed for a new material library in the school of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati’s college of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. Due to the numerous functional parameters established at the beginning of the project, the system had to embody a high degree of elegance and it required five prototypes to prove viable. As stated earlier, it was primarily a storage system for material samples and books but it also served to divide, organize and characterize the room as well.  It was never assumed that the system would rely on mechanical fasteners for assembly. Plywood is structurally useful in both compression and tension. By tracking structural forces in the system, the components were designed to lock together according to their natural structural tendency. Parts that pull on one another attach with hooks and the parts that press on each other use a simple puzzle piece to prevent slipping. In this way, the entire system essentially locks itself together during assembly. To accomplish this structural interlocking with plywood, the tolerances between parts had to be perfect. This became one of the most educational aspects of using the CNC machining process. While the machine is capable of producing high tolerances, the designer has to establish exactly what the space between parts needs to be for easy assembly and stability. Many of the prototypes were constructed just to establish that precise distance, accurate to three decimal points.
 prototype 1
 prototype 2
 prototype 3
 prototype 4
JeffWelch_Storage_System (1).JPG
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