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. Something to bring child play back to the city square, where it once belonged in most Italian cities.
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 aincient 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 down version of the Circo Minimo is a beautiful piece of white Carrara.
The following images describe the developing process of Circo Minimo. I did not simply design this object in 3D to deliver a 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. Trial and error was my best guess at achieving this.
The design process started from a 3D model of everything but the top surface. A balsa wood model was then made based on that design. Subsequently a series of alternate top surfaces were developed using polyurethane foam. When I eventually found the perfect shape I sanded out the polyurethane and proceded to make it silk-smooth with a fine plaster coating.
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. With that digital model the manufacturer was able to machine cut a piece of marble into a Circo Minimo!
Helios Auomazioni / software and machinery
Masutti e Rusalen / direct labor
Tryeco / reverse engineering of the plaster model
Marco Negri / photography