Diles Wins TEX-FAB Plasticity Competition

Knowlton School Assistant Professor of Architecture Justin Diles has won the TEX-FAB Plasticity design competition. Diles, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, developed his design – an interior pavilion titled Plastic Stereotomy – as an extension of his research in composite fabrication methods and lightweight, volumetric alternatives to typical frame-based construction.  The two-round competition attracted 70 entries, representing 16 countries on 6 continents. Diles was named one of four finalists in the competitions’ first round, chosen a distinguished jury that included architects Greg Lynn and Snohetta principal Craig Dykers, as well as Bill Kreysler, a leading fabricator of composites for architecture. The announcement that Diles had won the Plasticity competition was made on October 26 at the ACADIA (Association of Computer Aided Design in Architecture) 2014 Design Agency Conference at the USC School of Architecture in Los Angeles.

As part of the competition, Diles developed a section of his design as a free-standing prototype. Assisted by graduate students Matt Lindsay and Alex Mann and undergraduates Stephen Steckel and Josiah Poland, Diles used the Knowlton School’s new 5-axis mill to produce intricate molds to make thin but strong units from fiberglass.  The final prototype was exhibited at the 2014 ACADIA conference, where Diles also delivered the paper, Designing Intricate Stereotomic Assemblies with Finite Element Method (FEM) Surface Buckling Simulation. This paper describes the research he developed during his LeFevre Fellowship at Knowlton.

As the competition winner, Diles’ design will be developed into a full scale, free standing interior assembly, facilitated by Kreysler & Associates, a leading fabricator of composite building components. The final installation will be sited in the University of Houston College of Architecture atrium at the 2015 TEX‐FAB event. Knowlton School students who are interested in learning more about  Diles’ research can enroll in his upcoming spring elective seminar, Massive and Light: Construction in the Age of Plastics and Other Emergent Materials.

TEX-FAB, based in Cypress, Texas, is a resource for designers, academics, fabricators, and students seeking out the innovative application of digital technology to the physical environment. Formed in 2009 by Brad Bell, Kevin Patrick McClellan, and Andrew Vrana, TEX-FAB seeks to create a forum for the exchanges of these ideas and techniques through workshops, lectures, and exhibitions.

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