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Manufacturing [of] Urban Idiosyncrasies - Facility for Sheffield’s Digitally Fabricated Bicycles

Part 1 Project 2013
Mohammed Syafiq Hassan Jubri
University of Sheffield, UK
Based in Sheffield, the project proposes a digital manufacturing facility for bespoke bicycles, customised for the individual cyclist and responding to specifics of the city. Building upon the recent proliferation of digital technology, the program aims to augment local sustainable transportation whilst embracing new making processes within the post-industrial landscape of Sheffield’s Furnace Hill.

The project investigates the notion that cities will continue to influence their inhabitants’ movements, habits and idiosyncrasies in a digital future. Through reverse engineering and digital fabrication, the process of manufacturing urban idiosyncrasies embraces a state of continuous translation, blurring boundaries between recording, designing and making, and oscillating between physical and digital states. Sheffield’s idiosyncratic topography shapes the bodily movements of its inhabitants, which in turn shape the objects they use. The resultant objects, particular to person and place, define a new synergy between inhabitants and their city.

The area of Furnace Hill represents a cross section of Sheffield’s idiosyncratic topography and forms a geographical focus for the project. A series of terrain samples are abstracted from the streets around Furnace Hill through a photogrammetry process. These virtually displaced terrains are then re-assembled into a sequence of 3D printed concrete terrains, suspended within the facility to function as a fixed manufacturing parameter influencing the production of each bicycle.

As the cyclist cycles onto and along these newly displaced terrains a motion capture camera tracks his/her unique movements and idiosyncrasies. The unique abstracted digital data of the cyclist’s cycling style (a second manufacturing parameter) upon the terrain directly informs the geometry of a new customized digitally fabricated bicycle. The bicycle is created from a digitally manufactured (3D printed and machine-cut) kit of parts that can be rapidly assembled. The bicycle can also be disassembled should it need to respond to new idiosyncrasies in future.

The proposal recognises our behaviours and identities are inherent in the city, and that the idiosyncratic characteristics of person and place can be empowered within an increasingly global and digital world.

Mohammed Syafiq Hassan Jubri


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