Milk Jug Wall
Parametric Investigation

Spring 2008
Critic - Chris Beorkrem
Univ. North Carolina - Charlotte

The efficient usage of raw materials for construction is one thing. Reusing found waste materials is something else. Parametric systems software can indeed aid to reduce the waste in production of complex geometries. It can also be very helpful as a tool for making sense of geometries created from the conglomerate of materials that sit idle as would-be waste.

The Blobwall Pavilion, created by Greg Lynn at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles, is an example of what parametric modeling can achieve at the scale of an easily manipulated component level. By using a “brick” typology abstracted enough so that it could interlock with itself on multiple sides, Lynn was able to achieve the effect of a wall made of individual blobs, creating one large blob that defines and quarantines spaces like any other traditional brick would. The limits for this project were the stresses on the plastic bricks, the maximum coursing, angles for turning the entire wall, and the density needed to maintain wall structure or allow for apertures.

Inspired by the Blobwall Pavilion, and using everyday objects like one gallon milk jugs or water jugs, I have chosen to pursue the challenge of creating a wall system. It will be difficult to manipulate each plastic “brick” in the system precisely but it will be possible to create a wall system or system of enclosure. The goal will be to create a form that accurately demonstrates the texture and articulated surface of the containers.

This surface system will of course be limited in some ways. The overall height is a limit of the strength of the plastic jugs when cut. One parameter will be the few possible combinations of cuts made into the plastic with the 3 axis router to form proper material connections with little help from adhesives or bracing. Another parameter may dictate an orientation that the jugs must all face so that the system can be formed. Another limit of the project is with the integration of the lid systems for the jugs. Can those be interlocked with other jugs or even the handle pieces? Since the milk jugs cannot readily be made into a complex geometry, I might have to create cluster sections in the model, so that when acting together, the different sections make up the whole of the system geometry.

The method of construction will be somewhat tricky, as most of the jugs will need to be cut using the router. I will need to create a sturdy enough base for each jug where the router can be precise about the cuts. This base could be made from a mold material, like rockite or plaster. Without the jug moving around while being cut, I can be sure the cuts are correct so that the milk jugs can accept one another in some geometric positions.

Richard South © 2018 — New York City