| liquid formwork

Downtown Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, Jan 08 – May 08

In collaboration with Gregory Hess

The aim of this project was to explore alternative models of casting in concrete, seeking a more complex relationship between the cast object and its formwork. The ultimate goal was to develop a “liquid formwork”, where the relationship of form and formwork was not static, and not definable by a single physical and theoretical alignment.

A precedent study was conducted on the construction of Kenzo Tange’s Sports Complex (Takamatsu, Japan, 1964).  One of the four main pylons supporting the structure was drawn, analyzed, and finally constructed at a scale of 1:10.  The complexities of a specific area of the form served as the basis for the development of a new casting system.

The form focused on in the precedent study consisted of a complex curve in both plan and elevation.  To create a new formwork for casting this component, a system was developed that was composed of adjustable vertical steel members calibrated via threaded rods and nuts, and a flexible structural spine consisting of wood 2 x 3’s linked with 3/8” PVC tubing.  The formwork was then lined using EPDM roofing rubber, creating an elastic, reusable casting membrane.  The resulting cast was a continuous complex surface that echoed formal elements found in the precedent cast.