SuperSlob: the development of a parametric component jointing regime for standard sheet materials.

    Tubby, Ryan Blake
    Burnham, Richard
    Green, Robin
    Design education and computing


The Castle, a collaboration between the School of Architecture &amp Design and Youth Futures, assists youth at risk of homelessness by deploying micro-dwellings to households experiencing spatial and emotional distress. The digital construction system has been tailored specifically for low-skilled labour through the development of a reliable and predictable component jointing regime, a limited palette of sheet materials, minimal tooling and a legible communication of assembly instructions.

In the latest phase of the project a detailed interrogation of the construction ‘grammar’ has resulted in the development of a software plug-in that dramatically increases the efficiency and reliability of the design, documentation and fabrication process. The plug-in, called ‘SuperSlob’ (the term ‘slob’ derived from the slot and tab connection) has been developed by students and staff at the School of Architecture &amp Design, in partnership with a software programming consultant.

The work-flow of the plug-in and choice of the Google Sketchup platform has been made on the basis of observations on the gap emerging in digital design between assemblers and designers. The brief for the plug-in has prioritised ‘accessibility’ in the expectation that The Castle construction system can progress from a limited ‘customised production’ towards mass-customisation where, as envisaged by Alvin Toffler, a future consumer could become involved in the design and manufacture of products made to their individual specification.

Superslob drives the construction system by integrating all stages of design and documentation – from component and material parameters, through component configuration and ‘router-ready’ detailed jointing – to file management.

Superslob is currently being road-tested by students in two ‘Learning by Making’ studios, the development of a conversion kit for a retired Metro Tasmania bus and a commission for an exhibition stand for Tasmanian product designers at the upcoming Design:Made:Trade design fair in Melbourne. Feedback from the users of the plug-in will contribute to the refinement and further development of ‘Superslob’.

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