One of the most fun ways to explore the functionality of a structural material is to turn it into an interactive public installation. The Morocco-France duo of Sofia Bennani and Alexandra Singer‐Bieder did just that with their temporary installation, "Straw-K" at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture hall in Paris.
Straw-K, which was made out of more than 200,000 plastic tubes melted together, was the winner of the Young Talent Prize in the first Africa Design Award 2014. The initiative promotes progressive design from throughout Africa and its contributions in the global scene.
Scroll down further to see photos of the project.
"After long series of intuitive experimentation on all kinds of material, one in particular caught our attention because it stood out in terms of its aesthetic, functional and structural qualities. Called “Straw‐k”, it is made of plastic tubes melted together on the surface."
"This type of assembly is the basis of a homogeneous material, here composed of polyethylene, which requires no binding agent (called autogenous welding). In the first place, we tested all the scientific properties of the Straw‐k in terms of fabrication process and tools, structural/mechanical qualities and relation with light and sound, to evaluate its possible applications. For that, we fabricated dozens of hand crafted prototypes using different forms, lengths, diameters and colours of the plastic tubes."
"The second main point was about finding an innovative manufacturing technique which could optimize the time and the result of the process and allow us in the future to imagine more complex patterns and shapes with the Straw‐k."
"Therefore we designed and developed an automated Straw‐k manufacturing process from the positioning stage to the melting stage, using an industrial robot. As of today, we had the possibility to test it on two flat surfaces of 1 sqm each, with two torches at the same time in the X and Y axes."
"All this researches ended by the proposal of a scale 1 installation in the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture hall (Paris) made of 250,000 plastic straws for a total of 12 sqm of matter. Spread on the bleachers of the ESA main hall, the Straw‐k installation was a multifunction shape: a floor, a wall, a seat, a bench, etc. where the students were able for 10 days to test the qualities and sensitivity of the material.
"The installation was here to deform the black and white rigid colour repartition of the school hall into an organic shape, giving for the first time a real function to the bleachers and a singular atmosphere to the place.
We are willing today to push the concept further in terms of digital fabrication and use in the fields of art, furniture design, interior design and lighting."
Project contributors: David Tajchman, Philipp Eversmann, ETH Zurich, Hironori Yoshida, IUT Cachan, Pascal Martinelli, Boris Desmorat, Matthieu Barreau, Iguzzini, Juan Velasquez
All images courtesy of Alexandra Singer-Bieder and Sofia Bennani
Click the thumbnails below for more images.
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