SHELL ceiling - RobertKoshgarian

Ceiling SHELL


An investigation into the forgotten surface of architecture. The ceiling, independent of the roof, is a seemingly unappreciated surface in Modern era Architecture. Commonly defined as an efficient enclosure for mechanical systems. The ceiling has lost its appeal through time, descending from its once noble existence as a representation of the heavens, in historic building precedents. Robert, has taken hold of this common surface with an approach that can be both aesthetically exciting and function as the mechanical enclosure it still needs to be. Typically found as a “service surface,” the ceiling hides unattractive mechanical systems occupying the interstitial space between ceiling and roof. So many times the roof is given more attention by designers as an aesthetic solution on a macro scale. But, the intimate experience of interior spaces lends this designer to believe the value is inherently with the ceiling.

Finding Shells

On a vacation to Pismo Beach, CA. Robert Koshgarian, toured the rocky beaches and wake pools streaming through the area. The entire beach was carved out by generations of water sweeping organic patterns into the solid cliff sides. Erosion has formed small islands of jagged and tilted rock, blending with the sand. Wave pools weave their way through the rocks, creating cavernous spaces filled with life.

The undersides of the tide pool caverns, are covered by Crustaceans. These crustaceans use the environment to sustain life and protection. Developing their own survival parameters such as size, shape, density, and clustering.

These Crustaceans, cluster themselves into tight knit communities. Creating their own micro ecology, acting as a neighborhood. The neighboring shells protect one another as they protect themselves. A number of different variables account for the form each cluster makes. Conditions such as sun direction, rock formation, adjacency to water, etc. define the shape and texture of each shell.

Typically a higher density of shells adhered to the ceiling surface of the caverns. Presumably for protection from sunlight and predators. The force from the tide and shape of the rocks seem to define the shells mouth direction. The shell’s texture, abstractly resembles the surrounding context, blending the clusters as a homogeneous part of the overall area.

Design Execution 

Abstraction of the shell topology to an architectural application began through a process of algorithms developed in Rhino 3D’s grasshopper. Initiating the concept began with understanding the basic geometries and their parameters. To begin, Robert, started with a planar surface and divided it into grid cells. Each cell of the grid defined the base constraint of the shell. The moment where the shell adheres to the rock. Then by offsetting a duplicate of this grid in the z direction, Robert defined the mouth boundary over the base. Lofting these two boundaries together defined the bounding box or volume limits of the shell.

The volume created from the lofted cells is further refined by the visual understanding that the mouth of the shell is smaller than the base by nearly half. With the basic abstraction formed, the next step was to define a unique quality for each shell. Noticing that the shells on the beach where smaller as they were more exposed to the sun, this gave Robert an opportunity to define an attractor parameter to the algorithm. Using a sphere to represent the sun, the shell’s mouth scale based off of distance, as well, the shells orient way from the attractor based on distance.

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