"The Cube" exercise at 2014/15 Architectural Toys course

This year I introduced a new short exercise in my course at FAUP called "the cube". I noted a lack of skills in the students manipulating materials, raw and processed. Even if they know how buildings are made, they still never worked with wood, steel or other material different than cardboard or polystyrene (that they use for the models) and they can't understan how each materail can influence or be inspiring in the design processes.
So the idea was to create a cube with 20cm that should communicate something. Some kind of meaningful object, something between a piece of art (that improve our knowledge) and a device for some manufacturing experience. The unique rule was that the solid produced should be inscribed or circumscribed in a cube, in other words the cube must be "readable" into the solid.
For several student was a first contact with materials and technologies and they soon realized the importance of the details and, more than that, of the construction process.
The results was quite interesting because most students could not detach from architectural thinking. So they made several "building models" thinking in scale (big or small), gravity (there was an up and a down...), circulations (doors and windows). Nevertheless good proposals appeared and a lot of students produced some interesting cubes with different materials as steel wire, mirror, wax or concrete.
Here some examples, sorry for the horrible pictures... next year I'll take better, I promise.

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