Badass Concrete Rocket

About: I am a qualified Industrial Designer based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and UK Citizen. I currently am working as a researcher, Industrial Design Lecturer, and direct a registered Industrial Design Company.

Thoughts behind the rocket:
When one thinks of the words concrete, and cement, the initial thoughts are that of rigidity, strength, weight, and being grounded. This is a logical assumption due to the many walkways, bridges, and other ‘bulky’ items of the built environment. I wanted to create a sculptural piece which raises question, initiates thought and stimulates the observer. I chose to do this by starting with the question ‘what doesn’t come to your mind when you think about concrete’… One of the answers which came to my mind was a rocket, ascending into the heavens. This, coupled with the challenge of having to build a rocket, seemed like a stimulating and enjoyable task. As I worked more and more on the concept development, I found an interesting link which is as follows: The word concrete comes from the Latin word "concretus" meaning compact or condensed, which upon further inspection one may link to the advanced technology, composite materials and utilitarian design utilised in aeronautical engineering. This concerns itself with the design, development and science of spacecraft and space travel. Although the Badass Rocket may seem far removed from the material utilised within its construction, it isnt. My sculpture incorporates within the concrete mix, addition of waste rubber crumbs from the automotive industry. This material was used as a filler, increasing the bulk of the cement without drastically increasing the weight. This is a waste material which may have more use in further applications, and incorporating it into this sculpture illustrates this.

Throw a bit of Saltpeter and Sugar smoke-bomb in the mix and the rocket almost takes off...

Technical Details for the making of the rocket:
Initially the design was planned out with sketching on paper. These were rough sketches to attempt to grasp the realisation of form. I wanted to use standard building materials, as well as incorporate waste material in the construction. The form was to be standard rebar sections which are utilised in the building industry. Upon interacting with the materials, I observed that the metal rebar would flex into a suitable form for the body of the rocket. This is only possible if it is spread around a central ‘spreader block’. I created moulds for the different components, our of waste 2mm ABS off-cuts of plastic which I obtained from a signage company.
The concrete mix I used was a pre-mix concrete, with an addition of waste rubber crumbs.
I made a mould and cast the central ‘spreader block’ which allowed for proceeding to the next step.
Six rebar support bars were arranged around the spreader block and tensioned to form the central body form of the rocket. The rebar pieces were tensioned and held in place with wire.
I then designed and made a mould which would fit closely to the rebar supports, allowing me to cast the one tip of the rocket. After the concrete set, I removed the mould and repeated with the other end of the central support.
I created three separate moulds, and cast the three legs in once process. This allowed for an even concrete mix, with a uniform surface finish. I included structural support within these moulds, in the form of m6 threaded rod. The ends of which, were used to attach the fins to the central body. Once the fins were set, I removed them from the mould and attached them to the central body rocket with small metal brackets and m6 nuts.

Here is the Badass Concrete Rocket on my Jozi Design website...

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