My Life in Architecture with Tomás Sullivan

The third in a series of interviews with the Apt team, this time with Part II, Tomás Sullivan who talks about the inspiration behind his thesis and his passion for parametric and 3D design. 

Your thesis project explores the materiality of timber. What is the one thing about Timber that most fascinated you? 

It is incredibly versatile, there are significant differences between species and even within a section of a tree there are different visual and structural properties. This area of knowledge used to be regularly practised by boatbuilders and bowyers, but sadly this set of hands-on craftsmanship skills are slowly being lost over time. Having said that there is an exciting and accessible set of new skills which reduce the barrier to entry through digital production processes. This general idea of translating craft skills into a design led fabrication process led to my Masters thesis of exploring principles of bowyers into architectural structures through careful removal of material to flex wood into patterns and structures.


My Life in Architecture with Tomas Sullivan - Part II at Apt. Timber Versatility
My Life in Architecture with Tomas Sullivan - Part II at Apt. Timber Versatility
How has your fascination for timber continued out of University? 

I am really interested in furniture making using CNCing, unfortunately I do not quite have the space or equipment to explore fully just yet. I also attended studio in the woods which was a timber focused weekend and really enjoyable, it provided an opportunity to build something in the environment it was grown in. 
My Life in Architecture - Studio in the Woods
Parametric design has obviously been a big part of your project - how did it help in the design process? 

A mixture of all things, from being able to "digitally sketch" to simulation of light. I think as the world becomes more digitally integrated; we must be able to use these tools to become better designers. In my masters I used the amount of light that hits individual tiles to inform the reflectiveness and scatter properties of the tiles that are in that space, this then created these unique and individual lightwells which speak to the properties which sculpted them in the first place. 
My life in Architecture - digitally sculpted lightwells
How has your fascination for parametric design & 3D printing been pursued outside of archi life? 

I started a small polymer clay cutter (like cookie cutters) company with my friend, being able to combine grasshopper and 3d printing into a small business has been really enjoyable and generated a little bit of money, hopefully this might expand in the future.  I am fortunate that a few of my friends also share a fascination of 3d printing and the freedom it can give to people, so I get to see the work they also do as a constant source of inspiration. Having a digital tool that lets you design, and manufacturer has been really liberating. 
My life in Architecture - 3D Printed Vases
My life in Architecture - Polymer Clay Cutters