TetraHouse Perspectives

Prototype One : LoseeNode Construction

After completing the Avenue of the Arts tetrahedral installation, and realizing the structure would be ideal for housing I started designing this coupling mechanism.  I guess this would be called The LoseeNode : Prototype One.  It had a few design criteria garnered from my first serioius CNC project that would help refine the fabrication process.

Exploded LoseeNode
Exploded view of first LoseeNode Prototype

Using a CNC is expensive, very loud, and sometimes dangerous.  They aren’t fun to use so I wanted to not use it as much as possible.  If you needed a rectangle for example, it would be cheaper, easier and faster to make this with a table saw.  I noticed that many parts of the tetrahedral lattice could be simplified.  The goal for the new structure was to isolate the structural complexities to the nodes.  These would be CNC cut while everything else would be as stock as possible.  This also fell into the over-arcing ethos of the project in that it retains use value in the materials.  If a 2×4 is relatively unaltered it can be a liquid asset in the materials economy, whether it’s the economy of a small woodshop or the economy of craigslist.  Buying stuff from Home Depot becomes similar to checking a book out from a library.

Exploded LoseeNode
Exploded view of the first LoseeNode prototype

The first LoseeNode design is a notch-assembly using an interlocking Seal of Solomon pattern where all the fins converge.  I thought this would be clever.  It is however more beautiful than it is strong.

LoseeNode
LoseeNode first test fitting, showing internal interlocking Solomon arrangement.

After consulting a seasoned fabricator I learned a few things.  Mainly: good designs shouldn’t require that many fasteners.  These things have tons of bolts!  Reducing the bolts should make things cheaper, lighter, and faster to build.

I tried breaking the coupler so that I could identify the weakest link.  The coupler fastens to each beam using two bolts.  Increasing the span on these bolts really improves strength, a principal of leverage.

More problems:  LoseeNode One envelopes each beam.  The fins completely enclose the beam.  This increases strength but also makes it very difficult to reconfigure while it’s in full assembly.  Being able to just slide a beam out from the side is very very convenient.  These are all things I took into consideration while designing the second iteration.

 

TetraHouse experiments
Rendering of various TetraHouse configurations

Here’s a rendering where I’m playing with various configurations.  In this one, the triangular planes are parallel to the ground.  The square planes are somewhere near a 50 degree pitch, which is ideal for winter solar energy adsorption for anyone living around the 40th lateral.  4×8 sheets of polycarbonate facing south would really get this thing cooking.  The square beams however end up not being parallel with the ground plane which would make installing a floor very difficult.  More considerations.

TetraHouse
Photograph of first TetraHouse installation.

Here’s half of a Cuboctahedron sitting on my roof in Brooklyn.  I installed it in the cover of darkness.  It was raining.  Some lightning.  I was pretty excited to see the first full scale TetraHouse.

LoseeNode
Photograph of LoseeNode in situ.