Elastic catenaries: Systems of hybridity
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The condition of being material in a mediated world produces paradoxical and fluid relationships between material and their effects. The predicaments of materiality today create fundamental changes in the way materials are perceived, experienced and understood. The flexible distribution and composition of material surfaces have become a means to redefine the perceptual, spatial and programmatic assembly of building structures. However, the old techniques of assembling materials have not changed in response to the possibilities offered by hybrid material syntheses. In this regard, rubber offers a critical starting point that opens new possibilities for the synthesis of materials, and structure through a hybrid building assembly. Rubber has largely been neglected and used as an accessory material in architecture, performing the secondary role of sealing surfaces, dampening damaging impacts and preventing architectural damage, very similar to our own most fragile yet elastic spinal disks, buffering our moving joints. Rubber's unique qualities of elasticity and plasticity, as an excellent flexible pourable agent and a structurally sound substrate have been under exploited. Through the molding process, rubber's unstable mutability can be controlled allowing it to possess a specific compositional morphology. By conceiving a reconfigurable mold, continuous choreographed techniques for combining rubber pours, with structural materials, a series of assemblies can be conceived that bring these disparate building technology systems into a more synthetic relationship. Discontinuous methods of assembly have been evident in the construction of the hollow partitioning of building environments as a result of unprecedented conjunction of separate but affiliated industries, products and labor organizations. The discontinuities of fusing various materials and structural integrity have been subjugated since the old distinction between structure and skin. The cavity not only divides space but contains it as an invisible discontinuous space. A fault line runs through architecture, which includes separate public resources of materials, structure, and energy sources. A continuous assembly of material and structure needs to stress the indiscernible discontinuous site to involve a mutable material to dissolve it. Thus the flexible composition of structural medium regains a material presence. The properties of rubber and its own way of becoming a hybrid structure become fused in the surfaces of the contemporary building environment. Constituents for material connection are increasingly absorbed and integrated into the indestructible rubber medium. Rubber's properties can be understood as a continuous flexible structural assembly with inherent variable spatial effects. My endeavor was to focus on how techniques of fabricating and casting soft rubber molds can be inherently structural, and begin to distribute and configure concrete in a very dynamic way. The rubber's elasticity itself becomes a source for the assembled synthesis of structure and responsive effects. The rubber was understood as having flexible structural capabilities with inherent properties for responsiveness during the process of casting concrete. The assembly and continuous construction is implied by the choice of hybridizing two different materials in specific performance; rubber and concrete, within a soft reconfigurable catenary mold. The reconfigurable mold negotiated structural composition, material substrate, and mediums for connectivity. The results are a 1:1 soft reconfigurable mold and its resultant 1:1 components revealing the hybrid relationships of rubber and concrete constituents. The process driven research will yield results that reveal the techniques in synthesizing structural and responsive rubber components. The documentation and recordings of thesis meetings will be bound and submitted to the faculty of the Graduate School of the State of New York at Buffalo in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture.