Builders and designers in the automobile and aeronautics industries know all about the prolific properties of our good friend carbon fiber. But only until recently — see GE’s Moon Boots and LeBron’s Zorro Mask — has the multi-use material truly made waves in other fields. And now, thanks to the FIBERwave PAVILION, carbon fiber can now claim architecture as another worthy home.
Carbon_Lab, a student run design and research studio lead by professor Alphonso Peluso, is dedicated to the advancement and implementation of performance materials not usually used in architecture. One such material is that of carbon fiber. “We want to make the studio an expert resource for people trying to get into carbon fiber in terms of architecture,” says Peluso. The FIBERwave PAVILION is their way of getting the word out.
Having studied composite materials intensively in the semester leading up to the project, Peluso’s students knew all about the varying complexities that carbon fiber had to offer, including its ups and downs. “Toward the end of the first semester we started working with carbon fiber, and it wasn’t the greatest result,” says Peluso. “But we knew we had to keep working with it.”
With a thorough understanding of what carbon fiber could provide in terms of architectural ability — including its malleability, its flexibility and its knack for turning into a steel-like substance once coated and cured with an epoxy resin — what eventually resulted from their hands-on research and experimentation was a living structure, one with the ability to adapt to its environment overtime.
Inspired by the bi-valve structure often seen in seashells, Peluso and his students deconstructed the design and reconfigured it into a single unit which they termed, “the shell.” These incredibly thin, incredibly lightweight building blocks were conjoined to form flexible rows. These rows were then connected to create the bulk of the FIBERwave PAVILION, a wave-like edifice that shifts and changes shape depending on the tension applied.
“The actual assembly was pretty quick,” Peluso admits, “the pavilion itself went together in less than a day.” But that was only after they’d spent over two weeks creating each individual piece of the puzzle. “When you make a composite unit, if you have one mold, you can only make one shell per day.” They had six molds. They needed 86 shells. They made a total of 90, just in case.
And, according to Peluso, his students deserve all the credit. “Sometimes, in group projects, you get a few drifters, and some really strong ones. But all twelve students really stepped up. This wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t all come together as a group.”
As evidence of their determination, when the project was in peril after a failed attempt at garnering funds from the carbon fiber industry, all of Peluso’s students snapped into action and started a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $6,900 — $400 more than their initial goal of $6,500. Check out their amazing video:
Winner of the 2014 Morpholio Future Voices Competition, the FIBERwave PAVILION is already making a name for itself, all while generating conversations around the architectural world about the use and abilities of a rather durable, multi-functional material that you and I know fondly as carbon fiber.
As previously mentioned, Peluso’s goal was to make his student run design studio the go-to architectural authority on all things carbon fiber. And, thanks to theFIBERwave PAVILION, we here at Carbon Fiber Gear believe that Carbon_Lab is well on its way to doing just that.