Cardboard units become architecture

October 11th, 2012

A few weeks ago, our fifth period class started a project called “Unit(ed) We Stand,” in which students designed a small-scale cardboard building unit in two dimensions, which could be put together to create a 3-d enclosure. Students learned how to use the laser cutter and Adobe Illustrator to draft and cut hundreds of the units, then prototyped a structure made from them. Then we took it to full scale, cutting hundreds more of the units at a larger size, by hand (no laser cutter this time).

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At full scale, the cardboard units were the same shape, but functioned slightly differently because of their increased size. Students re-modeled their enclosure designs using the full-scale modules in the courtyard space at the high school. Each group had a unique module: some more linear, others hexagonal, one of them bone-shaped.

As an exercise, Unit(ed) We Stand taught both digital and hand-fabrication, scale, geometry, structures, and the physical limitations of material and design. Soon we will be building at full scale in more structural materials, and the foundational skills learned in this lesson will help us better understand future architecture projects.

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Studio H is a public high school "design/build" curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, creative projects. By learning through a design sensibility, applied core subjects, and "dirt-under-your-fingernails" construction skills, students develop the creative capital, critical thinking, and citizenship necessary for their own success and for the future of their communities.

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