Tide by Nature Aided Design Lab
Published on May 26, 2012
Nature Aided Design Lab creates unique street furniture pieces using the power and variability of the Thames in London, one of only two tidal rivers in the UK. A flexible mould containing a concrete mixture is attached to floating buoys and shaped using the tidal forces and currents. The mixture hardens and freezes the form after a certain time and is revealed and harvested during low tide. This is a self-sustained repeatable production system where we manipulate the energy and variability of Nature to grow objects which are revealed during the low tide. The final form can be “predicted” using an interactive program developed by Nature Aided Design Lab. Preset constraints, tidal rates and macro currents can be inputted to give an idea of the desired form. However, the inherent unpredictability of nature will also have an effect which cannot be foreseen.
Final pieces were exhibited at the Work In Progress show at the Royal College of Art, London in February 2011. For the prototype, first tests in lycra moulds retained the particles whilst allowing the water to penetrate into the mix. Tests with other mould materials resulted in different surface finishes. The flexibility of the mould was found to be crucial to generate natural looking forms. The prototype pieces were formed using an Architectural technique in which the modules are hung upside down in perfect tension and can then be flipped right side up to be in perfect compression.
On the other hand, they have developed a simulation program that allows us to form objects through modifying tides & currents and physical anchor points (which represent the frame and buoys). This program was written by taking into account the experimental knowledge previously acquired. It is a digital approach which is complementary with the physical experiments and this specific forming process.