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April 18, 2012

Jenny Wu, a partner at Oyler Wu Collaborative, documents the process from design through fabrication of their latest installation, Screenplay, to be featured at the upcoming Dwell on Design 2012. Part 3: The Big Reveal.

A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist. —Buckminster Fuller.

When we first started our practice eight years ago, we had just moved from New York to Los Angeles. With no clients, no portfolio of built projects, and virtually no income, we realized quickly that in order to build a body of work that is unconventional and unique we would have to rethink how we practice. We came to two conclusions: (1) we would need to go out and find the right clients (even if they were my own parents!) and (2) we would have to learn to build the work ourselves, because we simply couldn’t afford to hire a contractor. We have always been of the mindset that sometimes as architects you have to take on responsibilities that fall outside of the conventional skill set, such as fabrication and installation, in order to realize work that is experimental in nature and complex in its construction. While fabricating our own design started as a necessity in order to control cost, we have continued to do it as a way of extending the research of our practice in terms of material and structural experimentation.

This rendered elevation of <i>Screenplay</i> shows the relationship of the rope to the steel frame.
This rendered elevation of Screenplay shows the relationship of the rope to the steel frame.
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Here's a close-up elevation view of <i>Screenplay</i>. The rope is looped around the steel frame to create a dense, continuous surface.
Here's a close-up elevation view of Screenplay. The rope is looped around the steel frame to create a dense, continuous surface.
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Here's a three-dimensional view of <i>Screenplay</i>, including the seating element that extends from the modules.
Here's a three-dimensional view of Screenplay, including the seating element that extends from the modules.
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This rendered elevation of <i>Screenplay</i> shows the relationship of the rope to the steel frame.
This rendered elevation of Screenplay shows the relationship of the rope to the steel frame.

Prior to Screenplay, we used rope as the primary material in our Netscape project (a graduation pavilion at the Southern California Institute of Architecture). We have always wanted to find ways of giving a second life to our previous temporary projects, so reusing the rope from Netscape seems like a great idea. Of course, one of the main challenges of using the same material is the challenge of doing something new. On one hand, we’re interested in building upon the ideas that we have pursued in previous projects, but we also try not to get too comfortable by doing the same thing over and over again.

Here's a close-up elevation view of <i>Screenplay</i>. The rope is looped around the steel frame to create a dense, continuous surface.
Here's a close-up elevation view of Screenplay. The rope is looped around the steel frame to create a dense, continuous surface.

Last week, I talked at length about optical effects and showed Screenplay in its orthographic views. This week, we have digitally modeled and rendered the project showing the materiality of the rope as well as the steel frame that allows the rope to twist and bend in space. Due to the extremely tight installation schedule at the Los Angeles Convention Center (the installation site), we had to design Screenplay in a way that would allow us to move it into the space easily and quickly without the aid of heavy machinery or tools. Therefore, the final piece is made of six modules with each module being made up of four vertical bays. While the steel framing is slightly different due to the variation in the rope pattern, each bay is the same in height as well as width. We have also designed an unexpected feature, which is a seating element that appears to have been stretched outward from one of the modules. This seating element allows for people to physically engage the work, and it also serves as a counter-balance to support the cantilevered sections of the project.

Now for the big reveal… in three-dimensions!

Here's a three-dimensional view of <i>Screenplay</i>, including the seating element that extends from the modules.
Here's a three-dimensional view of Screenplay, including the seating element that extends from the modules.

Next week, we will switch gears and work on a large-scale physical model in order to help us evaluate the design and to make further refinements to the scheme that was started in the digital model.

Click here to read past installments of The Making of Screenplay.

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