Preliminary to the design of a fashion institute in Milan the authors, two students at the School of Architecture, tracked vectors of horizontal disruption as interpretation of complex urban fluxes. While vertical vectors of gravity forces inform the structure of many buildings and find their architectural expression in columns, beams and trusses, horizontal vectors such as vectors of movement and sight, can only be simulated using software deriving from the animation industry. A fluid dynamic simulation within the 3D model of the site generated patterns of density. These were then exported into computer aided design software that interpreted the patterns as fields of spatial vectors.
In order to reinform the design project for the fashion institute with the vectors of horizontal disruption found through the fluid dynamic simulation a physical model of the field was needed. The laboratory at the School of Architecture is equipped with some of the latest computer-driven fabrication technology for model making, including a Precix 9100 series large-bed milling machine. The machine consists of a router and a 3-axis mill over a large table that drives a spinning bit into materials such as acrylic, wood or metal. Code generated from the virtual model drives the mill.
We used the machine to produce a series of 12 by 12 inch acrylic models from which the pictures shown are taken. The models were produced upside down, flipping the milled side to the bottom and producing a negative image of the field. The diameter of the milling bit imprints the vectors as fins into the acrylic. The transparency of the material and the refraction of the light create a haptic impression even though the vectors are captured inside the material.