Professor Clay Shortall
Fall 2012

This studio focused on designing a BMX/skate park and realized a rationalized portion of the entire project witht he 5 Axis LLC and OMAG BLADE 5 Generation 3 5-Axis CNC router. From this investigation, the question arose: What happens when technical aspects of digital fabrication technology merge with the creative mind? Our studio has mastered the hybrid in a project called the Alien Pod. 

The 5-Axis router is a CNC tool used to mill the final model of a 390 pound block of limestone. Its ability to cut stone into the smooth shape that retains the idea of movement of a skater is what makes the router vital in this specific project. Various digital technologies were employed to fabricate the Alien Pod. 

The process from design to fabrication for the piece required an advanced understanding of form-making with 3D modeling programs. After protyping the model with the Makerbot Replicator 2 and other 3D printers, the final piece was milled down to a 2.5’ x 3’ x 1’ model. 

Phase I of the design process began with each student using a word to drive his/her project throughout its development. As individual visions became more refined, the project entered PHASE II, where the studio created a final model that showcased their holistic understanding of the capabilities of the digital fabrication technology. The collective goal  was to create one unique piece that has a flowing surface to accommodate the movement of the skater or biker and that can be replicated and nested into itself to create continuity. The result of this replication process introduces a “kit of parts” methodology into the design process,  which is the process of organizing individual forms and arranging them into one flexible system and produces an unbroken form conducive to skater/BMX movement.

Project Manager: Cindy To
Rationalization Team: John Bodkin, Thanh Ly, Gilberto Valles
Realization Team: Leonardo Caballero, Elizabeth Leblanc, James Thoreen, Jennifer Stein
Fabrication Team: Darren Cattle, Michael Stolle, David Thompson
Publication Team: Samantha Cigarroa, Isabelle Atkinson, Clifton Harness

Parametric Diagram

Diagram showing the “kit of parts” concept. The “parts” category shows the idea of different components, which are ultimately arranged in a variety ways under “assembly.” These are then multiplied and added together to create different products based on the form of their respective assemblies.

Joint Diagram

Diagram showing the “kit of parts” concept applied to the rationalized skate park. It shows one piece pulled from the mass, and the way it is organized in a variety of ways to create the overall structure. A plan view shows the way the pieces are nested, and the curvature used by the 5-Axis router for fabrication.

Above is a perspective of the rationalized skate park being occupied. The images below show the design implemented at a variety of scales. The first shows it used as interior ornament. The second shows it at the middle scale, used as a bridge at a park. The third shows it as a monument at the urban scale.