Watney Solid +/- Void is a design-build, mobile installation that travels to different venues and enters into new relationships with the context of each location. Through its form, which includes a series of portals cut from a doubly curved surface carved from an orthogonal box, the object draws people in and once in, allows them to view out from the project, framing the site in new ways. No matter what environment or context it is in, Watney Solid +/- Void is able to affect and be affected by the context in a way that is unique to each site.
Watney Solid +/- Void consists of three main components: a steel plate base, 21 individual fragments, and the outer skin. The fragments were developed through parametrically based computation methods and real-time structural analysis. Multiple iterations were tested for their ability to withstand dead and live loads.
Watney Solid +/- Void provides a new take on a conventional structure system – the waffle rib system. By treating each fragment as an independent self-structuring, uniquely formal object, Watney Solid +/- Void disentangles the parts from a top-down structural scheme. Consequently, the assembly of multi-directional waffles contained by the surface of each part, once assembled, produces a whole that is much stronger than had a conventional rib system been used. Furthermore, the manifestation of each part’s particular structural solution is, like the object itself, guided by an internal logic that relates to other properties of the part in which it is contained, as well as conditions imposed by the whole and contextual cues (including occupation, views, and environmental/cultural responsiveness).
Each individual fragment is comprised of three parts: the internal waffle, the end caps, and the offset end-caps. The end-caps are secured to the waffle through teeth that hinge from the edge of each individual waffle element. The 2” offset end caps are then mechanically attached to the outer surface, causing a reveal at the seam between fragments, accentuating the fractured nature of the form. The part to part connection logic activates what Jane Bennett identifies as the loose contours between objects. Each part in Watney Solid +/- Void has teeth that reference the waffle internal to the part, while negotiating the location of teeth with, or behind the surface of an adjoining part. Like the project as a whole, the connective strategy is non-hierarchical – that is, all teeth do not need to be used for the system to achieve stability.
Finally, we developed a surface system of discrete parts to cover the complex form. The small parts easily account for irregular openings and the sudden shifts in the underlying geometry. To maintain the expression of the waffle below, we opted for a translucent polypropylene material. Each part, or shingle, is simply fastened to the underlying waffle structure using zip-ties made of the same polypropylene material.