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Making a Glass Science Park Mock-up With Architect Tanya Eskander

Design

An architect can find beauty in almost any structure. Whether it's the intricacy of a structure or its functional quality, there is always something to admire.

Tanya Eskander, a freelance architect working in London, uses her skills to design beautiful structures for clients around the world. She's helped a wide variety of independent and business contractors realise their architectural dreams.

To conceptualise her ideas, Tanya likes to make models by hand. This personal approach ensures she can inject her passion and love into everything she creates. But the advent of 3D printing and digital design has revolutionised architectural workflow, and Tanya's putting these technologies to good use to enhance her own design and experimentation capability.

Enhancing workflow

Tanya likes to experiment with designs in CAD software, and then recreate these in the physical world utilising traditional and modern techniques. The two modern techniques she uses are 3D printing and vacuum forming.

3D print

Over time, Tanya's clients have started demanding more work from her. To meet demand, 3D printing and vacuum forming have proven extremely useful. They allow Tanya to quickly experiment with ideas and create various prototypes. In the case of vacuum forming, she can also create a series of models in a very short space of time.

“The FormBox is a fundamental part of my model-making setup. It’s great for quick formal experimentation and mocking up transparent materials,” says Tanya.

One recent project showcased this brilliantly. Tanya was working with a London based Architectural practice on a new science park, codenamed the Eden Project, which was being developed for a leading university research complex. Her task was to create a series of 10 microclimates as architectural models, which would be encased in glass with temperature control. The microclimates would go on to be used for various environmental experiments.

Tanya needed to make these architectural models quickly, to a very high standard, and accurately depict how the unique domes would look in the science park. She was given just a few days to complete everything.

3D printing and vacuum forming

First, Tanya created a 3D model of the site in 3DS max. Once this was signed off, she got to work creating the site physically. Various moulds and models were needed to create the site, which she would create in her workshop using blue foam, a wire cutter, a Formlabs Form 2 3D printer (now superseded by the Form 3), a Mayku FormBox, and a few other tools and materials.

Vacuum form

To begin with, Tanya carved the terrain for the science park from blue foam, using her trusty wire cutter and pallet knife. She then added environmental features, like grass, trees, bushes, and areas where people could sit down.

The most important part of the project, the crystal dome, needed to be made from transparent plastic to mimic glass. She started by making a very rough physical model from cardboard, before drawing it in CAD. For this, she used 3DS max.

She then 3D printed a negative of the dome in white resin on her Form 2 3D printer. White resin is one of Formlabs' standard resins, designed specifically for strong, precise concept models and prototypes. It would form the perfect base for the master template.

Mould

She then got to work making the dome itself. Tanya used the 3D printed dome as the master template, creating 10 copies of the master template from transparent Mayku Sheets. The copies were just that - perfect in every way. Tanya cut each copy out with a scalpel and added them to her sites, to create the mock-up her client requested.

Fully transparent glass-like models

Tanya created fully transparent glass-like models with her Mayku Formbox, which were a perfect replica of what she drew in software. By doing this all in-house, she saved a significant amount of time and money versus using an external vendor.

It's estimated the prototyping time with an external vendor would have been 2-3 weeks, with a production time of 2 weeks on top. Tanya was able to cut this down to 16 hours of 3D printing, and 2 hours of production time. A significant saving. She also saved a lot of money, with the cost of her Formbox coming in at £599 versus the £2,500 it would have cost to have her mould copies made with an external vendor. Each plastic sheet was just £1.

Machines: Formlabs Form 2 (since superseded by Form 3), Mayku FormBox.

This case study was first published on the Mayku website. All images are credit to Mayku. If you enjoyed this case study, you'll also enjoy this one about Small Multiples who use voice patterns, 3D printing and the Mayku FormBox to make edible chocolates as gifts.

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