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Photo 01 09 2014 04 28 57 Pm

Model #4

Photo 01-09-2014 04 28 57 pm

ASMbly Lab2 has started this week – a ten day open access workspace bringing together artists, scientists and makers, in central Leeds. I plan to use the time to explore ideas of construction (on a small scale), I began with a series of structures achieved using the process of laying materials over a dome formed in sand. Once the materials have cured the sand is dug away leaving a self supporting structure. As the idea for the process came together I remembered seeing references to domestic architectural structures built in the U.S. using a similar process, pouring cement/ polymer materials over huge domes built of earth and sand. This felt like an interesting and relevant enquiry – exploring the notion of the model while also exploiting’everyday’ materials.

During the opening event at ASMbly I was alerted to the work of the American architect Wallace Neff, in the early 1940’s Neff developed a proposal for building large numbers of houses in a relatively short time. The process involved inflating a half sphere former over a concrete base and then firing a cement and water mix called ‘Gunite’ at high pressure over the surface, a second layer was applied and the building completed in 48 hours. Although it never really took off in the States there was a more receptive environment in West Africa where 1200 units were built in Dakar, Senegal. Neff himself lived out his life in the last habitable Gunite dome in the U.S.

Click here to see pictures of Wallace Neff’s buildings and Tom Beesley’s work, and to find out more about this artist.


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