Categories: Custom and Intelligent Design | Posted: October 25, 2014
From the beginning, Bella Vita Custom Homes has utilized the latest software in computer-aided design (CAD). While these computer programs are typically used for graphical representation and more efficient document production, current technologies allow for three dimensional, detailed simulation at any scale. Not only does this result in a more refined product, but it also provides a strong foundation for innovation and enhanced communication from concept to finish product.
Alongside computer-aided design is computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). This is a digital fabrication process where the designer/engineer enters information into the CAD software, and then controls the manufacturing through a specific machine (CNC router, 3D printer, laser cutter, water jet, etc.). The benefits in using these technologies include fabrication efficiency, pinpoint precision, creating identical units, reducing material waste, and more overall control.
Bella Vita Custom Homes is a company comprised of many individuals from different backgrounds and career paths. The beauty of this condition is the diverse experiences, perspectives and talents collaborating to offer the clients the best the industry has to offer. It so happens that members of the architectural design team also have a strong background in CAD/CAM technologies, and it was decided to utilize this skill set by offering one-of-a-kind, functional installations for the clients.
Bella Vita‘s newest available residence located on 5424 Willis Avenue in the M Streets, was selected to receive a unique CAD/CAM installation to serve as a functional art piece causing an unexpected moment of interest. After considering different concepts for the design installation within this true American craftsman home, a wine rack was chosen. Herein below describes the design approach, the design concept, and the fabrication process of the innovative “Willis Wine Rack” project.
The Craftsman style is heavily defined by simplicity and use of “honest” materials; respect for the natural. While it embodies the essence of modern design, it pulls from traditional methods of construction. It is also influenced by Japanese design, not only for the materialtiy and simplicity, but more so on the science of joinery. Lastly, Craftsman furniture is more than just aesthetic, it is functional.
Key characteristics of the Craftsman style are:
* Heavy “structural” design
* Sturdy, natural wood
* Clean, straight lines
* Recti linearity
* Vertical slats
* Emphasize joinery
* Corbel supports
* Little to no ornamentation
The design concept was to develop a craftsman influenced, functional wine rack that will maintain the interest level when not stocked. With the space for the installation being taller than it is wide, horizontality is emphasized throughout with the orientation of wine bottles, wooden slats, and light boxes. The vertical structural units will be twice the thickness of the horizontal slats to imply “sturdiness” as well as provide better support for the wine bottles. The material will be similar to the wood used to make the kitchen cabinets, which also helps maintain the “respect the natural” craftsman theme. The primary joinery system will be slot connections.
A major influence for this wine rack is the variety of craftsman style light fixtures. Frank Lloyd Wright often used geometric designs inspired by organic patterns, such as leaf veins. For this design, we chose an organic form of organization known as “voronoi” to develop the patterns and three dimensional texture of the light boxes. Voronoi is a system that is derived using a pre-set number of points, or generators, and for each one there is a corresponding region containing all points closer to that generator than to the others. For example, soap bubbles in compression naturally organize themselves developing voronoi patterns. This is an interesting concept because they form a 3 dimensional, structural lattice system, which can be seen in the 2008 Olympic water cube. The voronoi concept can also be found on giraffes, turtle shells, reptile skin, and leaves. In this installation we took it a step further and added a second voronoi layer that will only be seen when the light is on.
For consultation and fabrication, Bella Vita looked to TOPOCAST LAB, which specializes in the CAD/CAM process and is directly affiliated with The University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. This turned out to be a very effective, collaborative partnership from start to finish. An advantage of digital fabrication is the ability to meticulously control the material efficiency and assembly process. The machine chosen for fabrication is the CNC (computer numerical controlled) router, which essentially carves material with a robotic arm. Below is an image of a preliminary cut sheet sized to fit a standard 8×4 sheet of plywood. This is an example of how the pieces are arranged to limit the amount of wasted material without losing the desired computational precision.
With the speed and efficiency of the CAM process, more testing can be done to make appropriate calibrations. This is extremely helpful when fabricating slot connections as it allows you total control of tolerances. Here are images of from the testing process:
We hope to have sparked your curiosity with this glimpse of a uniquely designed installation you won’t find anywhere else. The final product will be on display at our Open House on Saturday, October 25th and on Sunday, October 26th where it will be fully stocked with wine! For more information, please visit the Open House Event or call 214.750.8482 to set up a private viewing of this extraordinary installation within this Bella Vita Custom Home.