Researcher: Prof. Neri Oxman
Location: MoMA. Permanent Collection. New York, NY
These processes experiment with light and heat-sensitive construction techniques that are specific to any given environment. The project is inspired by the Cartesian Wax thesis as elucidated by Descartes in the 1640’s.
According to Descartes, the essence of the wax is whatever survives the various changes in the wax’s physical form.
Cartesian Wax is an architectural skin-like surface made of tiles. Generated out of a single 3D–milled, semi-adjustable mold, each tile was cast and cured at high temperatures, a process that increasingly deforms the original mold with each cast. Geometrical and physical property variation in the tiles was achieved by modulating the temperature across the mold at the scale of the entire wall, such that each resulting tile —while similar in shape—differs in properties such as stiffness and opacity; reflecting and responding to the conditions which “formed” it in the first place. Variation in material properties was used to correct and—in certain areas—augment, structural performance.
For example, in regions that were made thinner due to the deformation of the mold, stiffer composites were cast to ensure structural support under self-load. With twenty of these tiles assembled in a sequence of multiple rigid and flexible units, we created a continuous surface that can respond to an array of physical conditions including light transmission, heat flux, stored energy modulation, and structural support.
Collaborators: Mikey Siegel; The Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT
All images and videos courtesy of Neri Oxman