raster block

The raster block is an entry to the National Concrete Masonry Association's annual Unit Design Competition. The competition's goal is to create unique concrete masonry unit shapes. The entries are limited to the current manufacturing technique's "box size" of 16" wide x 24" long x 8" high.

Spring 2010

Structures II

Professor Russell Gentry

1st Place Georgia Tech

1st Place NCMA National Unit Design Competition · Chicago, IL

Illustrated herein are axonometric drawings of all six block typologies in addition to a plan view demonstrating a possible assembly. The blocks conform to standard, accepted CMU dimensions. The raster design is made possible by the modular compilation of block typologies into an overall assembly that generates the desired image. The blocks are notched on their respective back faces for quick reference and refined accuracy in construction.

This image is a screen-capture of the grasshopper definition that generates the overall image output via the six block typologies. An image and overall wall size are input into the definition, and the generative engine samples various pixelations - the individual blocks behave essentially as pixels in the image totality - that fashion an image embedded in the wall. The image furthermore changes with the shadows of the various days and seasons, likewise transforming the wall into an ever-dynamic collage of light and shadow.

These axonometric drawings exhibit the simplicity of assembly of the RASTER blocks. Any of the six typologies can be comfortably placed against each other, however harsh the juxtaposition may seem, as each block conforms to standard CMU sizes and assemblies. Clarity of design and fabrication lend ample integrity to a concept as ambitious as those successfully realized with RASTER blocks.

The images below illustrate how dynamic and indeed dramatic shadow changes throughout days and even seasons can impact the experience of the RASTER block wall. Images can become emboldened, flattened, and/or everything between. Human interaction is likewise as spontaneous and exciting.

Further illustration of the dynamic nature of shadow-play throughout a given day. In this case, corporate logos can, despite the diversity of light and shadow throughout a day, remain identifiable. Thus, while the diverse conditions of light and shadow are intriguing, they do not necessarily obstruct viewability and recognizability.

The Rhino grasshopper definition is used to export the block pattern into a chart. Using this data, the masonry crew can quickly begin assembly of a RASTER block wall.

© 2020 Wade Nolan