[Image: An absurdly beautiful photo of laser-cut steel by Elijah Porter, a student at the Yale School of Architecture].

Elijah Porter, a student at the Yale School of Architecture, has a great Flickr set up called Material Formation in Design. It features several awesome examples of how strategic cutting can transform a solid surface into a porous structure.
In the specific case of the image featured above, you’re looking at what might be called subtractive origami, wherein diamond-shaped cuts have introduced foldability and mesh into a solid sheet of steel.
How interesting to think that, with just the right geometry of cuts and slices, you could activate the otherwise overlooked – or even unknown – baroque possibilities of a given material. You could even hold annual slice-design competitions, where students and mathematicians from around the world get together to display their secrets of cutting; one at a time, they program precise geometries into a laser-cutting machine, and whoever thereby achieves the most complex form, or the largest volume of folded space, wins.
Huge, 8′ x 8′ sheets of steel are turned into spheres and waveforms, in a kind of arabesque of wounding through which metal becomes lace.
One year, a student from Amsterdam blows everyone away by introducing just one, incredibly complex cut… and the whole sheet rolls up to the size of a one-inch ball.
Or you obtain a truck-mounted laser and a grant from the Graham Foundation, and you proceed to cut a new, gridded faultwork into the bedrock of the continent – perforation on the scale of whole landscapes – so that the geography you’re standing on simply folds up and disappears.
Check out the rest of Porter’s Flickr set here.

6 thoughts on “Surface/Structure/Fold”

  1. Brilliant! Would be great if we had the capacity to do this kind of cutting here at Upenn’s School of Architecture – have been working on similar material investigations – slightly more irregular perhaps – but interested in corrosion patterns generated through effecting metal and the weathered transformation that would be revealed slowly over time.. sped up the process for the panel shown here…

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