| GSAPPA4656 | Fast Pace/Slow Space | Brigette Borders and Mark Bearak  | Duration: Spring, 2012 | Group Project; 10 Members |

| ABSTRACT Publication | Architizer A+ Award - Honorable Mention

FY-Langes is an interactive spatial installation designed and built by 10 students at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. FY-Langes was part of the course Fast Pace/Slow Space  taught by Brigette Borders and Mark Bearak, and is produced in collaboration with the Applied Building Science Laboratory at GSAPP. 

FY-Langes is made of 12 strips, one roll of foam is used to complete one full strip. Each roll  is  1⁄2” x 48” x 125’, and yields  15 4’ x 8’ sheets that are cut to fit on the mill bed. 173 sheets are needed to build FY-Langes.  Each strip generates close to 0% waste as it is all phalanges are designed to nest together so as to fit four bails on a single sheet. Tabs and notches are milled into the sheet and each bale is tabbed together, as well as tabbed to the next bale in the strip. A 0.125 inch down cutter is used to mill the sheets. 2” blue foam is used as a sacrificial layer allowing each sheet to be easily pinned down, preventing the cut pieces from moving after they have been milled.  Small Pins are used to pin the sheet down on the blue foam.  Zipties are used to connect in the cross section of all strips to give additional strength and keep the bales in tension to help create the curvature needed. Quantity: 2160. Stakes, no longer than 4”, are used to hold the FY-Langes to the ground.

Packing foam (polyethylene foam) is an inexpensive, recyclable, water resistant and durable material with interesting physical properties. FY-Langes takes advantage of the translucent, tactile and light-weight quality of the foam and creates a playful experience for all kinds of users. FY-Langes is responsive to the environment around it: it moves with the wind, filters light and is shaped by the way people use it. Though the installation has been designed and curated to have moments for sitting, lounging, laying, etc -- it was always our hope that the human interaction with it would be varied. Our prototypes were the ultimate test, and they showed that people responded to the design in unique and creative ways. One of the inherent strengths of the FY-Lange system is not only its tactile quality, but its inherent flexibility in the way it contours to users’ bodies inviting them to make their own unique FY-Lange imprint, and interact with it in unique and dynamic ways.

The aim of the project was to push the boundaries of digital fabrication and experiment with a conventional material in an unconventional way, testing the limits of its performance in order to create an occupiable structure. The goal was to marry CNC cutting techniques with advanced digital design tools in a singular project. To generate the form, three surfaces were created. The lowest one being the bottom of the bale, the middle one being the top of the bale, and the top one being the top of the ‘phalanges.’ Using the three surfaces as input, we wrote grasshopper script that would output the tabs and notches used to fold each bale. 

The system is comprised of repeating strands. Each strand is built from repeating bale units. Each unit is comprised of a folded base and articulated phalanges ( or FY-Langes). By varying the height of the base versus the height of the phalanges we are able to accommodate many interactive uses for our installation. Each bale is generated from a single sheet of foam that is custom cut with a CNC router and then folded and tabbed together to create a three-dimensional unit.  The tabbing system allows us to build the entire structure using only packing foam. Since each sheet generates four bales, with tabs and notches for connection we are effectively gaining 99% efficiency or 0% waste.

The various parts of the form were also designed and programmed with the nesting strategy in mind. Our largest limitation was the size of the mill bed (4’ x 8’), so we designed the form and curated it to make sure that bales always nested together to ensuring maximum efficiency from any particular sheet. While there is a gradient in the overall form, it does follow a nested strategy: change is always proportional.

FY-Langes is designed to be flexible, adaptable and reconfigurable system. Flexible and adaptable, in the way it responds to site conditions. Reconfigurable in the sense that it can have a life beyond the initially designed form while still maintaining its initial design intent of tactility, responsiveness and user generated interaction. Its strands can be used collectively to build the form originally designed or can work on their own. It’s also adaptable and flexible in the way it can be staged in any particular site. Other uses include but are not limited to: wall/ceiling installations, furniture, outdoor components.  

FY-Langes was on display on campus at the End of Year Show on Saturday, May 12th, 2012, and has was selected as part of the FIGMENT NYC Project that took place on Governor’s Island, New York June 9-10th, 2012. Fy-Langes won Honorable Mention in the 2013 Architizer A+ Awards for the Architecture + Materials category.


Design & Fabrication Team: 

Rand Abdul Jabbar, Aisha Alsager, Susan Bopp, Justin Fabrikant, Rikki Frenkel, Joanne Hayek, Eleni-Ilektra Kontoroupi, Mark Pothier, Nicholas M. Reiter, Jennifer Romeo


Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, Applied Building Science Laboratory

Fast Pace//Slow Space Brigette Borders & Mark Bearak

Mark Wigley, Dean, Columbia University GSAPP

Mark Taylor, Director of Operations, GSAPP