Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Illustration Building

In the illustration building, I found the materials of the actual building to be more interesting and applicable to material classification than what I found in the student studios.

The back of this chair shows a great application of bent plywood. Since it has gone through a secondary process of layering and adhesion it classifies as a composite material. Plywood takes advantage of structural and flexible benefits of wood when it has been cut into thin layers in the direction of the grain. It keeps the long grain direction of the fibers making it strong but breaks the lateral bonds and increases it’s flexibility.

These plastic chairs have a different level of flexibility and the material has been engineered for that purpose. The additional holes along the back of the chair have also been added to give structural flexibility. Although the material is very thin it is still comfortable and sturdy. This is an example of a material that has both covalent and Van der Waals bonds at a molecular level. This construction results in a flexible and sturdy structure but only under certain conditions; if temperature or excessive stress is placed on the material, it will change phase.

The image in the stairwell shows a variety of materials including some kind of polymer stair covering, vinyl(?) tiles, a painted tack board that has been folded around the corner and cut into an abstract shape. The most interesting juxtaposition of materials I saw in this view was the choice of handrails¬— painted metal vs. varnished wood. The sensations are quite different and it’s interesting to compare them while walking up and down the stairs. The metal has been bent in several points and retains its strength where as the solid wood rail is straight and it becomes obvious that it cannot be manipulated in the same way.

Thick, ridged, glass cubes lined the back wall of one of the staircases distorting the reflective behavior of the glass and creating new patterns. I believe that glass in this phase is created by an ionic bond at the molecular level giving it strength, transparency and a non-conductive state. I think it is interesting that someone was able to write on this class with marker and change the reflexivity of the surface. Although it does not look like a porous or textured surface the marker ink stayed on the glass.

As I was about to leave the building I noticed this magnet holding the heavy metal door open. It is interesting that there are only metals in this door system. It is obvious that materials strengths had to be considered for the base on the door and the wall, the metal to use for the chain, and the strength of the magnet in order for it to work. I also see this as a great macro example of the tension that can occur in materials at the molecular level and it is easy to envision what happens when the magnetic bond is broken.

I find this last image inspiring and an excellent example of the reflective properties of various materials.

No comments:

Post a Comment