Sandbox manual

Thibaut Devulder

As part of our submission for the Structures on the Edge competition, we created a fun model sandbox to illustrate the participative construction process for our Stranded installation. We invited the public to interact with the model and to play on a miniature dune, equipped with our scale prototypes of the facetted concrete sculpture and some toy tools.

Of course, we couldn't resist creating a little manual for the sandbox!

2hD at Lincoln Architecture Society

Tom Hughes

The Lincoln Architecture Society invited 2hD along to give a talk as part of their evening lecture series. I was genuinely impressed by the professionalism of the students who run the society — an excellent welcome pack in my email a few days before the event giving all the info I needed to get to there and a warm welcome and introduction.

Here are a few of the slides from my talk, which covered the Sky Vault project, the barn conversion in the Dordogne, our work on the NTU architecture course, Mission Control (our hairy micro-office), our Structures on the Edge shortlisted competition entry and the inflatable event space.

Their lecture series looks great — it brings kudos the the Lincoln School of Architecture and is definitely worth checking out if you are in the East Midlands. Take a look at their website.

Remote model making

Thibaut Devulder

We've just had an exciting collaboration with artist Tristan Hessing on a public art installation for the Lincolnshire coast. Tom and Tristan have been working together in Nottingham to develop the form of the structure, while I was handling the CAD modelling and 3D renders from Belgrade.

As part of the project, we also needed to produce physical models of the faceted shape that Tristan had come up with. With a 3D computer model in Belgrade and a physical model to be built in Nottingham, how to communicate to Tom all the information he needed to quickly fabricate a physical object perfectly matching the numerical one?

The first stage was to check the geometry of the folding pattern with a paper net, which could be printed onto card with our office A3 printer. The Flattery plugin for SketchUp came in handy to explode the facets of the object and generate the tabs to glue the different pieces together. The rather complex geometry required that the net was split into 8 foldable panels, each with a different form.

To simplify the assembly, I colour-coded and labelled the facets and tabs, with some 3D orientation views to explain how the different pieces were meant to be glued together. I emailed Tom a PDF version of this net.

A few hours later, Tom video-conferenced me with the assembled model. So far so good. This paper model would later be spray-painted black and used for one of our models.

We then needed a durable plastic version that could be handled by the public and we called on to the expertise at the workshops at Nottingham Trent University — we both teach there part-time and Tristan is a graduate from their Fine Art school. I generated an STL file from the 3D model and sent it to the workshop, to be fed to their computer controlled milling machine. The idea was to manufacture a strong mould onto which thin plastic versions could be formed by vacuum.

Four hours passed and Tom called me from the workshop with the mould ready, CNC-machined from a solid block of MDF. Nice!

Remote model making

Tom then laboured hard with the workshop team to produce two perfect vacuum-formed plastic shapes. I received the images by email straight from the workshop.

Remote model making

This beats having a 3D printer directly connected to my laptop! Many thanks to the team at the NTU workshops for their expertise and help!

Portfolio project
Stranded: extreme picknicking in the dunes

Tom Hughes

In response to the Structures on the Edge competition, we collaborated with artist Tristan Hessing, of One Thoresby Street, to explore the ambivalent relationship between art and nature conservation. We designed a shifting public art installation on the wild beaches of the Lincolnshire coast, on the theme of extreme picnicking.

The Stranded art installation, slowly eroding within the shifting sand dunes of the Lincolnshire coast

Our chosen site: a fragile dune ecosystem, isolated on a windblown seashore.

Stranded was our shortlisted entry for the 2010 Structures on the Edge art programme, and a distant cousin of our Bathing Beauties competition entry.

The artists’ brief called for small permanent structures in the sand dunes of the Lincolnshire coast that would respond to the wild beauty and harsh environment. Our response was to design an installation for extreme picnicking as a robust response to the rugged nature of the site.

Shifting sands

We decided to make our intervention at a dune crossing point, reinforcing and protecting the dune whilst giving views and shelter for visitors as they move between land and beach. Stranded would be a faceted concrete structure whose shape was derived from the dune surface, but with points raised to provide views and shelter, and others buried beneath the surface to provide foundations. We would see it as a geometric abstraction of the dune landscape, a frozen snapshot of the shifting sands. It might be taken for an archaeological artefact that has been exposed, or is in the process of being covered, by the sands.

Our collaboration with the artist

We found that Tristan shared our approach to understanding the project and our chosen site at Wolla Bank. We took our cameras and tape recorders and had a picnic in the dunes. We talked and sketched and thought, but we also interviewed everyone we could — hikers, families, fishermen, dog walkers, bird watchers.

It became obvious that it was the remoteness and rawness that they appreciated. All of them had visited Wolla Bank many times, and they all praised its quietness and undeveloped nature. Rather than change the place by inserting an icon that would signal development, we decided we should intervene in a strong but subtle way in the landscape.

The making

The process of making Stranded would be intimately connected to these intentions. Creating a mould from the sand of the dune, we would dig out areas of the structure which would be ultimately submerged beneath the ground, and build up areas that would be raised. Finally, we would spray on fibre reinforced concrete to form the structure. The process would be like building a giant sand castle — a hands-on process through which we would engage the local community and visitors.

The exposed concrete areas would collect sand and be blown clean so that the structure would change over time, a process that we would document and that would help to explain the life, mobility and sensitivity of dunes to the visitor.

" 2hD have been committed to delivering the highest standard possible at every opportunity in our collaboration, which is absolutely how it should be and the reason why it has worked so well for all parties.
From our initial shared exploration of the site, they were very engaged with my responses and ideas, responding quickly with visualisations and practical suggestions for the making process. The principle of our collaboration was to understand where our common ground was and how best to pool resources and create design without compromise."

— Tristan Hessing, collaborating artist