Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
The D-Bridge is a yet-unbuilt architectural project and experimental structure that serves as an extension to a private gallery and residence in the Philadelphia area. Our office worked in close collaboration with facade and BIM experts, as well as several other fabricators and consultants in the greater Philadelphia region. A design team of between two and three worked on this project, primarily in the Summer of 2014.
It is our intent to present the Bridge as a case study in small-office technological design and information management. The desire to design and construct a project like the D-Bridge grew from a BIM-like philosophy that is a founding ethos of our office. The knowledge and tact to execute the project grew from close collaboration with contemporary BIM experts, as well as adopting tools and expertise from the burgeoning open-source community around Rhino and Grasshopper.
We were thereby able to transform our primary tool for geometric control into our organizational system for the entire project--which we used in totality from formal experiments, to visualization of data, to coordination and design of building systems, to fabrication management, to delivery logistics and construction scheduling. All managed from within the software we already use for 3D modeling and drawing.
The D-Bridge (Bridge) is a single-story, single-room, 1200SF building that acts as an enclosure along a path between an existing residence and an Art Gallery. The building is a thickened shell with canted glazing and six door openings—it is environmentally controlled, and it provides both a programmatic link between living and gallery spaces, and a series of smaller, more intimate porch-like spaces around the boundaries of the buildings.
The core feature of the Bridge serves as both its form and structure—in this case, over 1000 laser-cut, folded cells made from flat sheets of stainless steel (voxels). Each voxel is easily handled by an individual, starting around the size of a shoebox (8”x8”x10”), up to about the size of a lawnmower (32”x32”x14”). The voxels form a shell, a pelt of sorts, which wraps the enclosed volume under a complex honeycomb of tightly-interlocking, riveted-together metal parts. The interior surface of this shell was the primary geometric component onto which all other geometric controls were grafted and grew. The edges of the shell fit snugly into the details of the adjacent buildings, and it carries its load down to three legs which touch down in the surrounding meadow. The overall shape of the shell was finely controlled for its external connections, its internal constructability, its structural capacity, the interior and exterior views it provided, and the experiences inside and on site that it engendered.