American Univesity of Beirut

Architecture students design, fabricate and install a canopy at FS1 gate

​​​​​​​​​​Ghida Anouti (BARCH 2021)

For the core project of the course Algorithm and Iteration (ARCH 060), offered during the 2019 winter session by Ahmad Nouraldeen, architecture students designed, fabricated and installed a canopy by the FS1 building entrance. The course aimed at teaching students how to use the software Grasshopper, one that provides a visual programming language and environment that is suitable for modelling parametric designs. The choice to place the installation at the entrance of the FS1 building was to provide students with the opportunity to intervene on and liven up the newly appointed space for the architecture program while the old Architecture and Design building was going to undergo renovation.

Guided by their instructor, the students designed the canopy on Grasshopper, which helped provide an optimal form within the specific measurements of the site. The digital model divided the canopy into long strips that facilitated the fabrication process. The students produced a 1:5 scaled model of the canopy and later proceeded to fabricate the 1:1 final product. As instructor Ahmad Nouraldeen put it: “Parametric design allowed the students to take advantage of the accuracy afforded by computational design tools to introduce integrated approaches mostly based on technology, materials, site and climate responsiveness, system mechanics and economy. In this case, the students worked on generating a parametric design through Force Density Method (FDM), a minimal surface geometry. The process took place in an iterative manner with existing and calibrated constraints/variables set by the students, generating a double curved pre-stressed form".

The process of fabrication required printing templates of the strips and tracing them on rolls of fabric. Students then hand-cut the strips of fabric and stitched together to form the complete shape. After securing steel anchors on critical points on the site, the students introduced long, steel cables through the fabric and tightly fastened them to the anchors. The canopy was then in its optimal form and tension. Fabricating and installing the canopy by hand was an intimate design experience that required critical thinking and finding efficient solutions in a short amount of time. Thanks to the support of the Department of Architecture and Design that funded parts of the cost, the students were able to fabricate and build the installation. It forms today a successful gate that enlivens the entrance to FS1 and makes it inviting to students, faculty, staff and other passers-by.


ARCH060 students: 

Ghida Anouti, Nour Balshi, Lama Barhoumi, Sirena El Rifai, Tala Farraj, Careen Matta, Yara Mortada, Salem Shamia, Jana Semaan, Mariebelle Zoughaib

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