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c-LITH is a research project and (prototype) installation inspired by prehistoric human constructions known as megaliths (stacked stone monuments.) Individual components (“stones”) are interpreted here by exploiting the wondrous strength, lightness, and variability possible with carbon fiber filaments when paired with computation, digital fabrication, and hand-stacked assembly. Traditionally when people have made units, particularly for stacked constructions, they have used stone, brick, or concrete. For a very long time this heaviness, actual and visual, was desired as it was associated with stability, wealth, and permanence. Beginning in the Gothic era, however, a new desire for lightness began developing in the western world. As a result, stone carvers and masons dematerialized construction with patterns of bundled thin strands, lacey tracery, and soaring vertical movement. Today, new composite materials present even greater possibilities in the production of lightness. Today, constructions can, both look and be, light. The design of the c-LITH installation is for a stacked, gravity-bound (stereotomic) system utilizing 143 unique, wound carbon fiber filament “bricks.” Using carbon fiber filaments to create variable units allows for larger, lighter individual units that can vary in both shape and structural performance as needed. Most importantly, however, the c-LITH units address the use of composites at the scale of standard architectural production. Until now, composite filaments have largely been used to produce monolithic shells, as in the hulls of boats and airplanes. The methods to produce shells, however, continue to be impractical for extensive application in building construction. Instead, we designed c-LITH as a unit-based system to exploit the advantages offered by the new material as applicable to an existing industry that makes large wholes from small, manageable parts. The design of the c-LITH installation represents the first testing of the prototypical units assembled at full scale. The overall design in both footprint and figure are imagined as aggregations that could continue growing in all directions and could be scaled. The test installation was designed utilizing a computer script that also generated all of the associated cutting files for the winding molds and jigging system. The direct connection between design generation and CNC manufacturing afforded us the opportunity to explore variation in the design. Hence, each component of c-LITH is typologically similar, yet completely unique in form with all elements fitting precisely together in a single unified structure.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 3-D
  • Depth: 8'-0
  • Medium: carbon fiber filament
  • Width: 9'-0
  • Year created: 2014
  • Height: 14'-0

About W+T

Project Designers: Glenn Wilcox (area-architecture.com) Anca Trandafirescu (area-architecture.com) Assistants: Megha Chandrasekhar Troy Hillman Secil Taskoparan Rebecca Braun Ryan Mason Sam Seeger Peter Choi Chris Pine John Larmour