Dhruv Jain

Nervous Blocks

Representing structure across scales


Structure is both inherent in nature, and rationalized into building systems by humans. While human building systems are often orthogonal and rigid, nature explores an incredible range of fluid structures that have the ability to adapt and respond. While structural analysis is catching up, with our understanding of both natural systems and human building systems, the representation of such analysis, is often on a two-dimensional screen. While designers and engineers gain an intuition about structure, from analysis and study, the tactility and real time movement is lost in our interpretation of forces and tolerances. We use intersections of structure, responsiveness, understanding and light as a tool for representation. Our project explores the simple beam, as a building block representing structure across scales. Embedded hardware sensors responds to changes made in a semi-rigid beam. The block glows blue at an unstressed state and becomes red as the stress is applied. Future applications are many. Imagine a child playing with blocks while also learning what is happening within them or a bridge in Chicago that tells the story of its forces, as a truck rolls by. We may discover that structure tells a much larger story that hold the seeds to future design.

Dhruv Jain, Emma Pearl Willmer-Shiles, Grayson Babbitt, Julia Canning

Dhruv Jain, Graysen Babbitt, Julia Canning and Emma Pearl Willmer-Shiles, "Towards Interactive Force-Sensitive Digitally Encoded Materials for Architectural Models and Construction", In ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2016. (Download Pdf)