written by:
May 9, 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 6:  The Physical Work Begins…

At this stage of the process, those around me often say that this isn’t the way typical architects produce work. For many years, my parents wondered why someone with Columbia and Harvard degrees would choose to spend a large portion of my summer months braving the grueling sun and performing serious manual labor. “Shouldn’t you have people for that?” they would ask.

We lay out steel tubes on the platform based on the fabrication drawings, and then mark the angle of the cut on the steel tubes.
We lay out steel tubes on the platform based on the fabrication drawings, and then mark the angle of the cut on the steel tubes.
Courtesy of 
1 / 7
After measuring, our staff cut the ends of the steel tubes to the correct angle.
After measuring, our staff cut the ends of the steel tubes to the correct angle.
Courtesy of 
2 / 7
Once all the pieces are cut correctly and laid out on the grid, they are ready to be welded.
Once all the pieces are cut correctly and laid out on the grid, they are ready to be welded.
Courtesy of 
3 / 7
Dwayne Oyler, partner of Oyler Wu Collaborative, welds all the pieces right on the platform.
Dwayne Oyler, partner of Oyler Wu Collaborative, welds all the pieces right on the platform.
Courtesy of 
4 / 7
We then grind the welds smooth with the angle grinder.
We then grind the welds smooth with the angle grinder.
Courtesy of 
5 / 7
More grinding.
More grinding.
Courtesy of 
6 / 7
We check off the pieces that we have fabricated on the master drawing.
We check off the pieces that we have fabricated on the master drawing.
Courtesy of 
7 / 7
We lay out steel tubes on the platform based on the fabrication drawings, and then mark the angle of the cut on the steel tubes.
We lay out steel tubes on the platform based on the fabrication drawings, and then mark the angle of the cut on the steel tubes.

We have now completed seven built projects in the six years our office has existed largely because we’ve taken it upon ourselves to make projects happen when no one else would. This is not to say that we are only doing it in order to realize our work—we use the process to better inform and develop our designs. I think the reward of understanding how to work with a material and, in turn, innovate through this intimate knowledge of a process, is what allows our practice to remain experimental. With each project, it is our direct responsibility to consider the optimal way to build the work, to simplify the process, and to create efficient fabrication logics—as opposed to simply passing it off on a contractor. We believe that this experience brings with it a more comprehensive knowledge that ultimately better informs those future projects that we don’t have a direct hand in constructing.

After measuring, our staff cut the ends of the steel tubes to the correct angle.
After measuring, our staff cut the ends of the steel tubes to the correct angle.
Once all the pieces are cut correctly and laid out on the grid, they are ready to be welded.
Once all the pieces are cut correctly and laid out on the grid, they are ready to be welded.

For this project, the key strategy for accuracy and efficiency involves the building of steel “profiles.” These “profiles” refer to the series of repetitive uprights that occur every fourteen inches. Although they are built flat, the “profiles” contain the majority of the information necessary for establishing the overall geometry. We begin by cutting 1/2-inch steel square tubes into smaller sections and laying them out on the grid. With our fabrication drawings on the side, it is very clear to our crew how to place the steel tubes on the grid. We then measure and cut the ends of the tubes to the exact angle of the intersection and tape the tubes onto the platform. This allows my partner/master welder, Dwayne, to forge all of the pieces together. The final step in the making of the profiles is to grind down the welds to create a smooth finish. With everything done on the platform, we were able to make flat and planar profiles that are dimensionally accurate. While the process seems relatively straight forward, the complexity of the profiles makes the fabrication process long and physically demanding. We typically work 11 hours per day, and without true commitment from our staff, we would never be able to pull this off.

Dwayne Oyler, partner of Oyler Wu Collaborative, welds all the pieces right on the platform.
Dwayne Oyler, partner of Oyler Wu Collaborative, welds all the pieces right on the platform.
We then grind the welds smooth with the angle grinder.
We then grind the welds smooth with the angle grinder.

I do want to say a few words about our staff. All of our staff and interns are either students or former students at Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc). We are able to bring on board talented and enthusiastic young architects who share with us the love for architecture and bring their passion to work every day. We would not be able to do all of the things that we do without their efforts and dedication.

More grinding.
More grinding.
We check off the pieces that we have fabricated on the master drawing.
We check off the pieces that we have fabricated on the master drawing.

Next week we will begin to three-dimensionalize the work by erecting the profiles vertically and begin to fabricate the steel pieces that connect one profile to another.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

Modern prefab summer home in Madeline Island, Wisconsin
Prefab construction simplified the building process of this northern Wisconsin summer home, where all materials required ferrying across Lake Superior.
May 30, 2016
This unrealized plan reimagined the city’s downtown and included a large green area next to the capitol building and paths to bring people to the Delaware River
In her new book, Wild by Design, Margie Ruddick shows us how to get closer to nature.
May 30, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent joa herrenknecht berlin cstudio joa herrenknecht berlin loftsw livingr02 studiojoaherrenknecht 2015
Size doesn't intimidate this ambitious designer.
May 30, 2016
modern fjallbacka sweden pine boxes vacation facade
Architect Gert Wingårdh creates a passionately outfitted vacation home for two midcentury furniture dealers on the western coast of Sweden.
May 29, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent driaan claassen cape town south africa ccourtesy of driaan claasen dualpage82
Driaan Claassen combines a variety of materials and a love of history to create distinct objects.
May 29, 2016
energy star dirk wynants extremis poperinge beligium sustainable farmhouse facade
The owner of an outdoor furniture company updates a 19th-century farmhouse.
May 29, 2016
Modern small sustainable weekend home with flat roof
Two linked 1,000-square-foot pavilions are greater than a sum of their parts.
May 28, 2016
inside out los angeles home barbara bestor hollywood outdoor facade charcoal paint pool
Architect Barbara Bestor transforms a Hollywood Hills home by opening up its interior to the site’s dramatic backyard topography.
May 28, 2016
right of laneway vancouver garden sliding glass western window systems door outdoor
A Vancouver garden blossoms alongside fresh development.
May 28, 2016
20160229 dgd highhouse 1777 1024x683
A toddler, a pup, and their parents fit onto a 16.5-foot-wide plot in an inner suburb of Melbourne.
May 27, 2016
rec
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 27, 2016
capitol gains seattle multifamily living dining room wassily chair chaise le corbusier cb2
Two Seattle architects design and build a dynamic multifamily structure on a formerly vacant lot.
May 27, 2016
modern beach house thatch roof living dining bar cart
By eliminating walls and incorporating a series of interior gardens, architect José Roberto Paredes creates an eclectic and inspired El Salvador beach house.
May 27, 2016
7
A two-story Eichler in San Francisco gets a freshening up.
May 27, 2016
Bathyard renovation in Madrid, Spain
In Madrid, Spain, Husos Architects renovate a turn-of-the-20th-century apartment for a client with dual passions: her houseplants and a nice, long bath.
May 26, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
May 26, 2016
starting over sturgeon bay facade tongue and groove new growth cypress  0
After a devastating fire, architect David Salmela designs a house to replace a beloved lakeside retreat in Wisconsin.
May 26, 2016
Modern home with brick base and cedar rain screen on top level
An architect reimagines an outdated brick garage by designing a graceful new family home atop its foundation.
May 26, 2016
sardenya lr 7
A renovation brings light and order to a Spanish flat, maintaining its standout ceilings.
May 25, 2016
pow 5 25 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 25, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent thom fougere winnipeg canada cthom fougere studio thom fougere saddle chair 2
Designer Thom Fougere plays with scale and typology to create playful furniture.
May 25, 2016
prs my16 0067 v001 1
In the worlds of architecture and design, we’re always looking for the best ways of supporting sustainable building practices. This awareness doesn’t have to stop at our driveways but rather, it can extend to the cars we choose to take us to the places we go each day. With Toyota’s 2016 Prius, the daily task of getting from point A to point B can now be experienced with a new level of efficiency, safety, and style.
May 25, 2016
mountfordarchitects western australia
On a narrow site in Western Australia, Mountford Architects makes the most of a tight spot—with an eye to the future.
May 25, 2016
San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016