Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Dining Womb by John Lum Architecture Inc.
August 11th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: John Lum Architecture Inc.
The Dining Womb was created for the 2010 DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation Fighting Aids) fundraiser whose simple brief was to create tables for dining, which were viewed and used by patrons during the event. Typically dominated by interior designers who create decorative and theatrical table tops, we wanted to get beyond the superfluous, and focus on the critical elements necessary for a great dining experience; namely intimacy, intrigue and sensuality. As architects, we wanted to create something that was rigorous and functional, with a strong conceptual, structured form. Our brief required us to seat twenty individuals.
We were interested in using an economical (self financed!) and green material that would buffer the visual and aural cacophony of the event. We explored many alternate materials and settled on cardboard, as it is readily available, economical, and 100% recyclable.
Our initial sketches which were low landscapes for seating, morphed into a taller, inhabitable object. Given a standard 4’ x 8’ cardboard sheet, it was most efficient to utilize the full dimension establishing an 8’x 8’ cross section. The integrated table and bench carved out of this block becomes a sensual, lacy object to contrast with exterior mass. Given that there were 1,120 cardboard sheets, the geometry of the void was required to be identical in order for us to be able to install in a timely manner. The cutting alone required a months worth of milling time.
Several prototypes were built to overcome issues of collapse due to structural stability in the direction perpendicular to the section. We intuited that multiple moment frames (created by gluing together 10 sheets of cardboard) linked together with ¼” thick plywood perpendicularly would create a stable structure. By teething the plywood and the cardboard we could provide a rigid system for the cardboard sections. We were quite pleased that during the event, not only was the Womb stable, but it supported the 20 guests with ease.
Limited to the construction of laminated cardboard beams, over 27 gallons of white glue were used in the construction. The remaining 1,640 individual parts relied solely on friction fittings for stability and cohesion. For transport, each section is 2’- x 4’ x 8’, dowelled together to allow for easy assembly. Plexi placemats, foot, and seat slides were inset into the cardboard, allowing for easy use and protection from liquids.
The cardboard fins, set into plywood combs, create a complex moiré pattern that allows passersby to catch glimpses of diners within, playfully providing privacy and intrigue to both viewers and the participants. In essence, the environment becomes a horizontal zoetrope. We envision that the Dining Womb can be utilized for intimate tête-à-têtes, or infinitely expanded for large gatherings.
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