Tutors : Mike Tonkin & Anna Liu with Arup
Location : Pottersfield Park, London
Year : 2014

"31 grams of Gold, hammered into a thin sheet, can cover an area as large as 16 square meters."

Shell Lace. Shell lace is a technique that generates ultra-light, single-surface structures with structural principles learned from seashells: curvature, corrugation, and distortion, all lock in strength and stiffness, allowing for incredibly thin structures. The process constantly oscillates between digital modelling and physical fabrication, from tailoring techniques to assembling lasercut paper marquettes.

The Silk Harvester is a facility that houses the extraordinary Nephila spiders, also known as the Golden Orb Spider, an arachnid species known for its immensely strong spider silk that comes in a golden sheen.

Single-surface Interface. Inspired by the medieval Diamond Vaults in Prague, a vaulting system was developed using the shell lace technique. In the Harvester, the vaults act as a strong compressive framework to experiment various structural trajectories with the high performance tensile strength of the spider silk. Built with waterjet-cut sheet metal, these shell lace vaults create an ephemeral spatial quality, almost sculptural.

The Silk Harvester brings together two elements made by nature and have stood the test of time; the high compressive strength of seashells and the tensile strength of the golden spider silk, and celebrates both these natural wonders in built form.

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