SKINN (Shalesmoor, Kelham Island and Neepsend Network) are currently working on some prototypes for designing small, temporary structures on the Furnace Park site.

In the next few months we are going to be designing three prototypes for microhabitats, which would be built by children and families during a series of workshops.  Below are some thoughts about materials, structure and our approach to the project:.

Want to use materials which are common in the urban environment, materials which are free to source and which do not need complex tools or techniques to work with. Something which everyone can easily find, some waste material, of non-toxic nature. 

 For our three structures we want to use:


-plastic (from packaging)


The first two can be found around the house or in any food store. 

And the last material we wanted to be sourced from Furnace Park – small bushes and shrubs growing around the place. 

 The key idea is to use materials in a way which would engage the young people in thinking about basic material properties, but also about new technologies and about waste. 

We want structures to be parametric, designed on a computer to be both simple to make and assemble – yet impressive in both size, shape and the fact that it was made out what was waste a couple of hour ago. 

Parametric design is the generation of geometry from the definition of a family of initial parameters and the design of the formal relations they keep with each other. In other words this means that shapes are made from a series of parameters, which define the properties of the structure. 

And you get structures like this:

Voussoir Cloud by IwamatoScott Photograph by James Diewald  Source:
Voussoir Cloud by IwamatoScott
Photograph by James Diewald

So with a couple of repeating shapes and simple assembly rules you can have a very impressive structure.

We have played with a number of shapes in the office, but then decided we might need to actually learn some Grasshopper (algorithmic modeling software). To make things like this: