Posts with «architecture» label

“I am a maker in the making”

Moushira Elamrawy is an Egyptian multidisciplinary designer and technologist based in the city of Cairo and founder of Rishalaser, a new concept for laser cutters that is opensource, portable, DIY, and easy to use. She wrote a piece on iAfrikan about becoming a maker and discovering Arduino. It’s an inspiring text and we want to share it on this blog.


Confession: I used to be an architect (possibly still am!), and then I started tinkering with things.
The architecture engineering school I graduated from did not have a workshop space. The first time I met a CNC router in real life was three years after i graduated.

It is hard to discover what you don’t know even exists. Which is somehow, why I had zero imagination of how those awesome Theo Watson installations could possibly work.

I had no business fiddling with electronics whatsoever. My coding and programming skills were limited to some knowledge of ActionScript, some C, and that was about it.

I read about Openframeworks, installed it, went through examples, tutorials and thought “Nice, I can change parameters that in return would change behavior, fantastic..but ..then..what?!”

By that time, I was an architect working in Morocco, between an office that was based in Fez and a construction site based in a beautiful small southern village close to the Algerian borders, called Mhamid ElGhizlane. It normally took me a little over a day and a half to travel from Fez to the construction site.

I had a radio, which I considered my companion in those interesting border areas. Before Morocco, I was living in Sinai mountains, working on a similar desert development project, where the radio would normally catch signals of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Jordan. The Moroccan Sahara, on the other hand, got me signals from Algeria, with lots of different dialects. Radio feels like travelling within time within places. It makes you really feel the distance you crossed.


In May 2012, I attended a beginners workshop for Arduino, lead by Bilal, who was visiting Egypt. During the workshop, I controlled an LED via Arduino.

It was magical.

I never used the board before, I barely understood any syntax, yet in 15 min, I did something cool . . that actually works. Arduino: I am in Love, I thought.

It is easy. It is just that starting alone isn’t easy. Going back home, I went through some examples and I felt oh..I can do stuff. I can do all these stuff actually. Oh, wait, there is also: Processing!

By September 2012, I moved to Barcelona for my masters, which started by a fabrication course in Fablab. I was Alice in wonderland. Then physical computing course started, and Alice’s wonderland was getting more vast.

Everything was awesome. The exact skill set that I wanted to learn. But I needed more, a lot more, time to absorb this whole new world. I thought of taking a gap year, but then, week after week, it turned out that once the ball gets rolling everything is accelerated.

Thanks actually to my sister for pushing me to trust that the ball will get rolling. She herself was moving from translation to graphics design one year before me. It is a family thing.

Arduino was THE treasure.

At the end of the day, all those fantastic surreal systems that I was fascinated by could be done with some components and an Arduino. The amount of associated open source resources is tremendous. The forum is awesome and people actually respond.

Through Arduino, I learned more about microcontrollers, I could program standalone circuits. Then the ball kept rolling, I learned eagle, I can mill some boards, I can solder (err, that was troublesome!), I can interface stuff, I can build sensors, I can work with data, I can build RF sensors, then I became obsessed with antennas, signal processing, and RFID.

I am still learning and learning, but it is much easier now.

Coming from this background, I always go back with time 4 or 5 years ago and recall how I used to react to a “closed box” new technology?

How life would have changed if machine interaction have been made easier, or basically how my life would have changed if machines had the opportunity to step out of their labs and talk to more people.

Making technology more portable and more accessible, is one reason why I started the mobile operated laser cutter project last year, of course, the project would have never been realized without the team that continued with enthusiasm.

Another wonderful project that I just co-started is Jebaleya Talks, with the hope of giving voice to women of Saint Katherine village in Sinai, by introducing them to smart textiles! Well, lets see how this will evolve..

While working in the desert in Sinai, the project foreman was my mentor, his words of wisdom still echo in my ears

“Everything comes along..with patience. If you could just wait”.

Apparently, he had a point!

E-mails are a distraction.

Meetings are boring.

Regular jobs suck your inner clock.

Take a sabbatical and learn what you want to learn and start anew.

At least try.

Oh, and during your sabbatical, give Arduino a try, it might change your life as well.

Let’s just hope that Arduino founders will keep embracing the same energy they started the project with, and that the big whales leave Arduino alone, so that it stays, open and libre just as how it helped liberate many creative energies and minds.

Keep reading on iAfrikan

A Peek at Hacking in an Energy Starved Future

In the future, we'll all live in "Live Cubes," tiny homes that restrict your energy and water use

Read more on MAKE

The post A Peek at Hacking in an Energy Starved Future appeared first on Make:.

A Peek at Hacking in an Energy Starved Future

In the future, we'll all live in "Live Cubes," tiny homes that restrict your energy and water use

Read more on MAKE

The post A Peek at Hacking in an Energy Starved Future appeared first on Make:.

The Maker Gene: Arduino at the Venice Biennale of Architecture

Arduino has been chosen as an example of how the open-source, collaborative approach is reshaping the world of technology and design and, on September 5th and 6th, we’ll be on of the contributor of the Weekend Specials section of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia curated by Rem Koolhaas.

The Arduino space at the Biennale Architettura 2014 has been conceived to inspire visitors to rediscover their ‘maker gene’: the impulse to learn and make things by yourself. Curated by Enrico Bassi, the exhibition includes responsive installations and hands-on demos to encourage visitors to interact and better understand the creative, transformative potential of Arduino and other open-source digital tools.

The first section focuses on the history, development and applications of Arduino. It features a glance at the evolution of the board, alongside an illustration of how it can enable an easy, direct approach to electronics and programming. In a dedicated area, the Treviso Arduino User Group, a local community of makers, engages visitors in a two-day hackathon on biometric and environmental sensors. The mezzanine level offers a playful and immersive take on what Arduino can bring to light installations.

A second section explores the impact of Arduino on a variety of innovative projects and businesses. It features a selection of items from Arduino AtHeart, a program designed to support and promote independently developed Arduino-based products: Primo, Smart Citizen Kit, Bare Conductive Touch Board, littleBits Arduino Module, and Cromatica.
In the Italian Innovators area, a special focus is granted to outstanding examples of how Arduino fosters creativity and technological development in its country of origin: WASProject, a research initiative on architectural 3d-printing; MEG, an innovative open-source home greenhouse; Light Cryptalk, an Arduino-powered recreation of the WW2 Enigma cypher machine.

Ironically extending the maker approach to other, broader parts of society, a set of videos in the final section of the exhibition compares the effects of the closed- and open-source philosophy in sectors ranging from the auto industry to architecture, suggesting the possibility of a radical, pervasive transformation.


The Maker Gene was produced in collaboration with: Fablab Torino, Officine Arduino, Treviso AUG, Torino AUG, MEG, WASProject, Michele Lizzit, Primo, Smart Citizen Kit, Bare Conductive Touch Board, littleBits Arduino Module, and Cromatica.

Supported by: Arduino


Useful links:

Take a look at the general website of La Biennale>>

The venue hosting The Maker Gene is the Arsenale and our installation is hosted within the Weekend Specials initiative.

You can buy your ticket  at this link.
Come and visit us on the 5th and 6th of September from 10am to 8pm!


Fractal Lamp Design Based Off Of Koch Vases

The Fractal Lamp was designed using an IKEA dioder lamp with customized 3D printed and laser-cut parts. A customized control box adjusts the desired color of lamp, giving it a unique look.

Read more on MAKE

Spraying natural fibers to build cotton-candy surfaces

During Fab10 Fab Festival in Barcelona I met Jin Shihui who introduced me to CandyProject, a research project exploring the process of spraying natural fiber to create a non-woven textile that can be used to produce anything from building components to ornamental artifacts.

By means of air pressure we separate the fibers from a roving allowing them to self-organize and reassemble due to the surface tension caused by a fine mist of adhesive. This creates a controlled fibrous aggregation producing an emergent morphospace encompassing the initial substructure.

The robot Jin is holding in her hands in the picture above uses air pressure to separate fibers into individual strands. While the fibers are still separated they are embedded with an adhesive spray and all parameters are controlled within the robot  with an Arduino Uno:

Designing an end effector for the robot to precisely spray the fibers allowed us to predefine the spraying protocol of any object, while also modifying the material properties at each of its parts. Varying degrees of material density, thickness, and rigidity could be achieved by simply adjusting certain parameters in the spraying process while always insuring repeatability and precision. Controlling these properties, coupled with the environmental and thermal nature of the fibers used, opens up a wide range of possible applications ranging from optimized building envelopes to furniture and custom made fashion. We want to share details of our project  so everyone can  build your own spraying tool and develop your usage with this technic.

Take a look at the video below showing the whole amazing process from growing to spraying the fibers:

Some other pictures:


Vertical Plotter Prototype

Nice Grasshopper-to-Arduino plotter hack from FablabTorino maker Pietro Leoni, a collabotator at Carlo Ratti Associati studio in Turin. We’d love to see code & sketches online soon, as much as a second edition of the plotter.