After brainstorming several ideas for futuristic worlds, we decided to create a world where aliens have terraformed the planet and forced all of humanity to live in a series of massive skyscrapers that tower hundreds of stories into the air. Our first concept model consisted of two identical cardboard cutouts, shaped like buildings. Our next design took a different approach, with a base "framework" upon which living modules would be attatched in clusters along the tower's "branches." This model was made of balsa wood and foam core modules, which were hot glued onto the frame. We created two variations: one with a block-like modular structure and another with a more organically-shaped triangles clustered around the entire building. For our third model, we radically changed our idea, and added a concept in which the "branches" of the building become magnetic and can attract nearby debris that are then modified and sculpted to serve as living modules. As a concept model, we cut holes in a cardboard tube and inserted thin metal rods which we then hot glued into place. Then, we placed magnets on the rods in the tube's interior, which would then attract any objects placed on the exterior rods, like small washers and bolts. Our fourth iteration was a prototype of our final model that consisted of three laser-cut plywood triangles, each in decreasing size, that would be run through piano wire to create a shape resembling a cellular of radio tower. Our final project was very similiar, with the addition of an acrylic box and magnetic paint.
Based on our earlier "cellular tower" framework design, coupled with magnetic attraction of building materials, we decided to build a wooden and metal model similar to our previous prototype. Since we wanted to be able to demonstrate the ability to attract debris and metals, we needed a way to contain objects like washers and iron filings that could still hold magnets and the three towers. We decided to construct an acrylic box with a plywood base. Flipping the box would cause the debris to fall upwards and be collected by the electromagnets in the top of the container. The box would then be righted and the electromagnets deactivated, where they would then be collected by the towers, which we painted with magnetic primer. Small items like iron filings and washers would be attracted to the painted "branches," while larger debris would be too heavy or miss the collection points and fall to the bottom. The towers could then be moved magnetically from inside the plywood base to move them into range of the fallen pieces. We decided to take the same design approach for the towers as our pervious model; however, because of the box's size, we had to lower the height of the towers from 10 inches to 8. After adjusting our design in Rhino, we laser cut three nesting shapes: a circle, a triangle, and a hexagon. Each shape had a number of "branches" on each side, along with holes to accommodate the trimmed piano wire that we used to connect the plywood sections. After constructing each tower, we painted the wooden sections with magnetic paint to make the tower more magnetic in general. We were skeptical about the paint, we weren't sure if it was actually going to be able to attract, but in the end it worked surprisingly well. Once all the towers were covered in paint, we decided to glue on circular magnets to the piano wire to give it even more magnetic.