Caret 6 in an installation designed to be easily assembled, flat-packed and then reassembled at a new location and an exhibition on the use of metal and composite material in digital design and fabrication.
The vaulting structure on one end provides a bookend to another installation also made of metal. Two wings of Caret 6 cantilever off the center vault – a perfect catenary designed using the grasshopper plug-in Kangaroo – and a third cascades into a differentiated ground surface in which diamonds can be interchanged with model bases to hold content for the exhibition.
To enable a smooth transition from a flat, two-dimensional ground surface into a volumetric, three-dimensional vault, we used a diamond pattern that could work as both an aggregate and woven rib-system. Though the diamond pattern appears to be series of stacked cells, the structure is actually three layers of overlapping ribs. Large, continuous primary ribs form the seams from vault to vault, while secondary ribs span between each seam. Tertiary ribs complete the web and enclose each cell to create a rigid structure.
A core goal of the project was to introduce asymmetry into what would otherwise be a symmetrical form. The vault is roughly 11’-0” at its highest point, enclosing a space small enough for occupants to engage directly with the surface, a condition atypical for most vaults which often frame larger and much taller spaces. Caret 6 was designed to fill an already existing space, so it was necessary to design a geometry that responded to the existing room, especially at the edges, where the vaulting forms project toward the walls.
The asymmetry of the overall form feeds back into each surface via the distribution of secondary and tertiary ribs within each vault, influencing the asymmetrical diamond pattern on the surface. As opposed to some parametric projects that promote the application of smooth gradating patterns, the diamond pattern of Caret 6 is highly differentiated from cell to cell, pitting small clusters of diamond shapes adjacent to much larger diamonds.
Using Robot Structural Analysis, we were able to model and test different aluminum and polyethylene composite assemblies to determine a structurally sound solution that still achieved the aesthetic and formal aspirations of the design. Ultimately, we added a layer of attachment details that included thousands of O-rings and binder rings to ensure stability in the event a lateral force or unexpected point load is applied, but in its resting state, Caret 6 does not require any fasteners.