Overview

Briar is a 10'-tall pavillion that is held together by only the compressive forces between the pieces of veneer plywood.

Inspired by Whiplash by Patrick Dougherty, I explored making organic forms using discrete elements for the class Designing Spaces for Interaction . The process from ideation to construction took 2 weeks.

This was my first large scale project; Briar was the first piece that made me realize that through making and design I could meaningfully change the environment I inhabit.

Process

Model 1



On the first day of class, we were tasked with creating a 1:16 model of our pavilion. I created a modular design out of cardstock that relied on a network of parallelograms to create a roofless enclosure. While not the most structurally sound model I've ever made, I learned a lot about rapid experimentation and fabrication.

At the end of the day, the class for three designs that would be pursued for the following 2 weeks. Mine was one of the three selected and I had a team to help pursue my vision.

Model 2

For the second iteration of our project, we decided to abstract the initial parallelogram shape into a more organic form.



We then modified this design to explore various forms this interlocking method afforded.

Model 3

While our explorations of forms were quite successful, we were faced with a limitation of the materials at our disposal. Our proposed model relied on one repeating unit that was 16' tall -- the CNC bed we had access and our material to was 8'x4'. This meant we had to come up with a new series of units that preserve the height of our sculpture without making each unit itself incredibly tall.

The key insight required to make that design leap was that units only needed to be attached to each other at two points. This inspired our method of using three shapes to create one interlocking mesh which would inspire the surface of our pavilion.



In order to make our space inhabitable, we had to refine these shapes to create an entrance. This resulted in five unique shapes.

It was at this point that we decided our final material would be veneer plywood. To approximate the form and flexibility of that material on a 1:4 scale we used polypropylene to test how our five shapes would work together to make a space.

Final Product

We finally tested our shapes in the veneer plywood.



Our final geometry featured 5 distinct shapes repeated three times.

Lessons

Briar taught me the value of iteration at different scales. It also taught me how to pick materials and improvise in the face of unexpected constraints. It also taught me how easy it is to work with a good team.

Briar is one of my favorite projects I've ever worked on. Being able to create something at scale that had only existed in my head was surreal. I was ultimately able to showcase my work in the Weisner Art Gallery at the MIT Student Center. It was so special to share something I'd made with my friends and the community at large. Whenever I lose faith in a project I'm working on, I remember the feeling of seeing my friends sitting in my pavilion looking up with wonder and remember that for me, design is all about finding new ways to make people feel happy. That's a problem I could never get tired of solving.

Acknowledgements

Collaborators: Maxine Beeman (pictured above), Joei Wee

Special Thanks to Zina El-Zifaldy

Photo Credits: Joseph Lee