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The Construction Behind Building A Column With Millions Of Faces

The columns in the above picture were designed by Zurich-based architect Michael Hansmeyer and then built using cardstock by his team of designers (which we first showed you here). The process marries simple construction techniques with complex mathematical formulas and results in something spooky, yet captivating. We almost don't want to give away the secret behind how these are made, but with the help of Co. Design we'll just tell you anyway.

First Hansmeyer starts with a traditional column and feeds its measurements into a subdivision algorithm. That algorithm was invented by the guy who is now the president of Pixar and you can learn a little more about it here. Once all the division has taken place Hansmeyer is left with a computer model of a column he estimates to have between eight and sixteen million different surfaces ("faces"). See picture two for a close-up of the all the surfaces.

Since that would be way too hard to carve by hand he turns the column on its side (figuratively) and has a different computer program take several thousand cross sectional slices (see picture three). The resulting templates end up with a bunch of rough edges (picture four) so they have to be smoothed out (picture five) and then cut with a laser cutter. The final assembly is simply a matter of stacking the cut slices on top of each other (picture six). That leaves behind an equal number of hollowed out cores that can also be stacked to create an exact negative of the column (pictures seven and eight). The column being built in these pictures has 2,700 cardboard slices that are each about 1mm thick. Photos from Co. Design/Michael Hansmeyer

· The World's Most Complex Architecture Cardboard Columns [Co. Design]
· Michael Hansmeyer [Official Site]
· Zurich Computational Architecture [CNN]