Fluid Crystallization

Self-Assembly Lab & Arthur Olson

Fluid Crystallization, exhibited as part of the 2013 Architectural League Prize Exhibition, is a project that investigates hierarchical and non-deterministic self-assembly with large numbers of parts in a fluid and turbulent environment. Three hundred and fifty hollow spheres were submerged in a 200-gallon glass water-filled tank. Armatures, modeled after carbon atoms, followed intramolecular covalent bonding geometries within atoms. Intermolecular structures formed as spheres interacted with one another in 1, 2, or 3-Dimensional patterns. The highly dynamic self-assembly characteristic of the system offers a glimpse at material phase-change between crystalline solid, liquid, and gaseous states. Turbulence in the water introduced stochastic energy into the system, increasing the entropy and allowing structures to self-assemble; thus, transitioning between gas, liquid, and solid phases. Polymorphism could be observed where the same structures could solidify in more than one crystalline form, demonstrating the versatile nature of carbon as a building block for life.