Model Building

Construction Models

Candela constructed his structural works with straight boards that formed a curved surface (a property of the hyperbolic paraboloid).  The economy that resulted from this construction technique permitted Candela to be competitive.  The exhibition illustrates this process through original construction photographs and models of the scaffolding and form boards used to for the concrete shells

Photo Album
See how Sylvester built the Los Manantiales construction model.


Restaurant Los Manantiales
Sylvester Black constructed a model of the scaffold system Felix Candela used to build the Los Manantiales Restaurant in Xochimilco, Mexico City. Using copies of Candela’s original design drawings, he created a 3-D model of the scaffold in the Rhinoceros computer program. He then “sliced” the 3-D computer model into 2-D planes that could be laser cut. By spending the time to create the computer model and laser cut planes of the scaffold, a job that would otherwise require the assembly of about 7500 sticks of bass wood was reduced to 8 sets of 14 laser-fabricated bass wood panels, and approximately 2000 individual sticks. To assist in the construction process, Sylvester designed a series of reusable wooden braces. These braces, (also laser cut) supported the 2-D panels of each petal until they could be tied together with individual sticks (running perpendicular to the panels). The braces were then removed and reused to build each of the other 7 petals that formed the full structure. Although building a scale model presents a set of challenges distinct from those of building a real-world structure, Candela’s construction-centered approach to design can be applied to both situations.

Photo Album
See how Janice built the Cuernavaca construction model.

Chapel Lomas de Cuernavaca
Janice Lee built a model of the scaffold system used to build Chapel Lomas de Cuernavaca. The approach was similar to that used to build the Los Manantiales restaurant: a computer rendering was made, and 2-D frames were cut along the direction of the straight line generators. Because the size of the frames were larger than those of Los Manantiales, Janice laser-cut the horizontal supports with notches that slipped into the 2-D frames, instead of cutting wooden braces. Janice also laser-cut the straight line generators.