Quick Links

Workshop

Building Skyscrapers with a laser beam

In November of 2003, third year students working on a mid-rise skyscraper design for downtown Montreal experimented with the School’s shiny new X-660 laser cutter. Under the supervision of chief workshop technician David Speller, students used the X-660 to cut 3mm sheets of wood to build façade study models of their skyscraper.

 

Thumbnail of laser cutter in workshop
Laser Cutter X-660
Thumbnail of laser cutter in workshop
Close up of Laser Cutter X-660

The students built a portion of the skyscraper’s envelope to a depth of 3 metres in plan, section and elevation, at a scale of 1:50. The stunning results showcase the usefulness of the laser for precision model making.

U3 skyscraper A view of some finished projects on display

The X-660 is a computer controlled laser system with on screen (computer) simulation of engraving/cutting jobs. The X-660 works on wood, plastic, fabric, paper, glass, leather, stone, ceramic, rubber. Using it is (almost!) as easy as sending any print job to a regular printer or plotter.

The project was carried out strictly in unpainted basswood. But a mix of the cutting and engraving features of the X-660 allowed for a variety of representations. Controlled engraving simulated stone and glass (see examples below).

U3 skyscraper
Stone
U3 skyscraper
Stone
U3 skyscraper
Glass
U3 skyscraper
Glass

 

Students quickly fabricated precisely scaled versions of large structural elements such as trusses and small architectural components such as external sun louvers (see examples).

U3 skyscraper
U3 skyscraper U3 skyscraper U3 skyscraper
Trusses and sun louvers
U3 skyscraper

Finally, the cutter allowed for a rigourous study in relief of the interaction between structural and curtain wall details (see examples below).

U3 skyscraper U3 skyscraper Interaction between structural and curtain wall details

The laser cutter is up and running. Come check it out! View a short movie of the laser cutter in action.

 

For more information about the course ARCH 405, please visit the studio web page.