Dragon Shell Pavilion is a collaboration between Alan Cation, Dennis Huang, and Leah Zaldumbide. It is a full-scale prototype carried out in the digital media seminar, Synthetic Tectonics, instructed by Jason Kelly Johnson at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Dragon Shell investigates the tectonic relationship between computational physics simulation as a form-finding mechanism and the physical construct, which is precision-fabricated using CNC technologies. Utilizing a direct computer-to-fabrication feedback loop allowed us to rapidly prototype and test possibilities for the construction. The final output is a funicular shell structure that is inhabitable for a variety of programmatic functions, with a variable degree of porosity and opacity as one moves throughout the structure.
Step 1: Design and Simulate Physics
Here, we began with a simple polygon as a base that was then subdivided and used as the foundation for the form-finding simulation. Using the physics simulation software, Kangaroo for Grasshopper and Rhinoceros, we were able to generate a funicular shell from the sub-divided polygon. We could then further sub-divide and triangulate the shell as we deemed fit.
Step 2: Prototype!
This step is really characteristic of the entire process, as one must continuously prototype to learn and iterate.
Step 3: Refine and Detail
After repeated prototyping, the time comes for further refinement and detailing. The pieces are all flattened using a script, while details become programmed into the script as well. They are then prepared for the laser cutter and CNC machine.
Step 4: Construct and Imagine
Assemble the final pieces and construct the pavilion.