VoltaDom is an installation created for MIT’s 150th Anniversary Celebration and FAST Arts Festival. It populates the passageway between Buildings 56 and 66 on MIT’s campus. Designed by a multidisciplinary research based practice SJET, founded by Skylar Tibbits in 2007, the project is one of the firm’s recent experiments in computational design. The project revisits a historically paramount structural element-the vault, attempting to find its contemporary equivalent through various assembly and fabrication techniques. This reference allows one to appreciate the installation both as a sculpture and a research in materiality and digital fabrication.
The installation lines the concrete and glass hallway with hundreds of vaults, reminiscent of the greatvaulted ceilings of historical cathedrals.It can be seen from inside and outside, creating spectacular views. The vaults provide a thickened surface articulation and a spectrum of oculi that penetrate the hallway and surrounding area with views and light. VoltaDom attempts to expand the notion of the architectural “surface panel,” by intensifying the depth of a doubly-curved vaulted surface, while maintaining relative ease in assembly and fabrication. This is made possible by transforming complex curved vaults to developable strips, one that likens the assembly to that of simply rolling a strip of material.