One question that we always ask as designers is "why?" We thought critically about the construction method for a series of wayfinding structures, and as a result opened the doors for a simpler, more cost effective solution.
Originally, the material specifications for five wayfinding structures for Edmonton's 2015 Nuit Blanche Contemporary Art Festival was 2" x 2" lumber. However, we had concerns with the complexity of cuts, accuracy, and assembly of the structure. By thinking creatively, and leveraging our in-house 3D printing capacity, we were able to discover a superior construction method.
Inspired by the assembly of tents, we designed a custom, 3D printed and resin cast connecting system. We began by creating an exact 3D model of the structures that incorporated sections of metal conduit secured at the intersection point by our connectors. We were able to design the structure in such a way that only two different connecting components were required. Next, we 3D printed the two components with the perfect tolerance for a snug fit in the conduit, and used them as plugs for a silicone mold. With this method, we were able to quickly reproduce multiples of each part from a rapidly curing plastic resin that were exact replicates of the originals. All that was left to do was cut the conduit to length, assemble the structures, and add two wooden frames for increased rigidity. We used zip ties to apply tension on the structures at the intersection points for easy disassembly, storage, and reuse by the festival for years to come.