Circo Minimo

This work was commissioned by Helios Automazioni, a leading company in automated technologies for the stone industry, as an example of what their machinery and software can do. The project I was requested is a piece of unconventional urban furniture and this is what I developed:¬†a racetrack for marbles…made of¬†marble.¬†An aid for children to play in an urban context like a city square.
While the piece that was actually manufactured is a 1:4 scaled reduction for exhibition purposes, the full scale version is three meters long. It includes a small seating spot at one end for an adult to look over the children at play. The top surface is modeled in order to permit different racing paths so the players can decide for an easier or a harder route before beginning each game.
Formally this piece is solved¬†as a micro-architecture, a quote of Rome’s Circo Massimo, a place dedicated to horse racing in ancient¬†times which is now an archeological site with just a few ruins. The top surface is both functional to the game and evocative of an architectural ruin that was crafted by wind and rain. Furthermore the combination of this surface with the sharply cut vertical walls is functional for the purpose of showcasing the impressing possibilities of¬†machine¬†work. The stone of choice for this scaled version of the Circo Minimo is a beautiful piece of white Carrara.











The folowing images describe the developing process as I did not simply design this object in 3D to deliver my *.stl file to the manufacturer, but I decided to make a physical prototype and have it reverse engineered.
The reason for this was my will to obtain a track that was actually fun to play marbles on.
So this is how it worked: first I made myself a 3D model with no top surface to extract a vector file that could help me make the vertical walls in balsa wood. I then developed a series of alternate top surfaces in polyurethane foam and when I eventually found the perfect shape I sanded out the polyurethane and proceded to make it silk-smooth with a fine plaster coating. I tested the track using a bb bullet as the marble (an actual marble would have been off scale) and was quite happy with the result. The project was ready to be carved into stone.
At this point the finished balsa wood/polyurethane/plaster model was handed on to a company that scanned it in 3D for me and delivered the file for the manufacturer.
The *.gif you find below is a mash up of different wiews of the digital version of the model. With that digital model the manufacturer was able to machine cut a piece of marble into a Circo Minimo! Unfortunately I have only two pictures of the machine at work.












































































Helios Auomazioni / software and machinery
Masutti e Rusalen / direct labor
Tryeco / reverse engineering of the model
Marco Negri / photography