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Forces Frozen is an IAP workshop
focusing on structural ice shells.
What that means is that its focusing
on thin, shell structures that get
their strength not from the material
that they're using, or the thick-
ness of material, but from the
form they're using just like an
egg shell. And they're made out
of ice and fabric.
The shells that we're designing
are inspired by a 20th century
Swiss structural designer named
Heinz Isler. He started just by
spraying plants in his backyard
with water and watching them
freeze and he was really inspired
by nature and the forms that come
out naturally through the forces
of gravity. Eventually he graduated
to using fabric and creating a
range of different structural
forms, from tents to arches, for
fun, in his back yard over a
period of about 50 years. All
made by the power of water free-
zing, finding a form thanks to
gravity and then using that form
to span structurally.
We had students with quite
different backgrounds so we had
students with an engineering
background and other students with
no engineering background at all.
Because of that we had very
different projects and very
different models.
"You're going to have
wrinkles and the way to avoid
are either to make cuts in the
fabric or. . ." Mostly the
students explored real funicular
shapes and ice shells that are
known in history for being very
efficient. Other students explored
more free-form shapes but those
shapes still stood by themselves
so it was very nice to see that
the frozen fabric is very strong
even for non-funicular shells.
"You can see its a very stiff
shelter. . ." I think this is a
really fun opportunity to combine
physics and mechanics, really
science with creating something
that's almost artistic. Even
students who are not in architecture
or structural engineering, really
appreciate the idea to explore
a wide variety of disciplines
and to really apply it using
their hands. Of course at MIT
we're all about Mens et Manus
and this workshop is exactly
about that.
The students here have a very
creative mind and they want to
explore projects by doing it
themselves and they can do it.
They have the abilities to do it
and I think thats why we have
many, many students who want to
come and build such crazy shells
in the snowy weather with us.
Everyone enjoys creating things
that they can see, so designing
and seeing something realized
is an unbelievable experience
and I think MIT students are
uniquely skilled at achieving
this in a way that's new.