Ansonia Concepts envisioned a ceiling that would adapt to the different heights available at the site. The space in front is over nine meters high while the back area is less than five (Fig.08-A, Fig.08-B). We needed to use the ceiling to create ambience and also to define functional spaces. Maximizing natural light through the front glass façade (Fig.08-C) during the daytime was an important requirement as well.

Molecule soffit heights

Fig.08-A – Molecule soffit heights

Molecule site before works

Fig.08-B – Molecule site before works

Molecule front glass facade

Fig.08-C – Molecule front glass facade

With a geometric floor and geometric wall already established as design features, we chose to depart from the hard lines of geometry and introduce curves instead. We developed a wavy surface that falls like a waterfall from the nine-meter level to the five-meter level (Fig.09-A, Fig.09-B) and flows in smooth waves and ripples across the room (Fig.09-C). At the bar area the ceiling drops to about two and a half meters and adopts a flat form (Fig.09-D) creating a visual contrast without changing colors or material, clearly defining the bar space. To the corner, a section of the ceiling goes “down the rabbit hole” to floor level, cladding the lift in the process (Fig.09-E, Fig.09-F).

NURBS Surface defining ceiling shape

Fig.09-A – NURBS Surface defining ceiling shape

Ceiling drop from 9m to 5m level

Fig.09-B – Ceiling drop from 9m to 5m level

Ceiling in smooth curves and ripples

Fig.09-C – Ceiling in smooth curves and ripples

Flat ceiling at bar area

Fig.09-D – Flat ceiling at bar area

Ceiling drops to floor level

Fig.09-E – Ceiling drops to floor level

Ceiling cladding lift

Fig.09-F – Ceiling cladding lift

Once the idea for the ceiling had been beautifully executed in the confines of the CAD platform in the form of a NURBS surface, it was then time to figure out how such a wavy surface was to be built.

We chose to use an array of parallel planks running along the Z axis (depth) of the site, from front to back (Fig.10-A). Each plank is cut in a specific curve (Fig.10-B) that defines the surface in the Z and Y axis in the position of the said plank. Each subsequent plank is positioned next to the previous one – with a certain separation that creates a void between planks – covering the whole range of the X axis (Fig.10-C).

Planks forming a 3D surface

Fig.10-A – Planks forming a 3D surface

Planks cut in curves

Fig.10-B – Planks cut in curves

Planks position define X coordinate

Fig.10-C – Planks position define X coordinate

By then – and still within the comfort of the CAD environment – the NURBS surface had been transformed into actual solid bodies with a specific shape and size, forming a sort of wavy grill. With this plank - void - plank - void arrangement, fifty percent of the surface is solid and the remaining fifty percent is void, allowing quite a bit of exterior light in.

The site is over 12 meters deep, which meant our planks where over 12 meters long. The need to build the ceiling in panels was apparent and this requirement gave way to a new design choice that closed the loop with the floor and wall concepts: the panels would follow the rhombic grid that governs the geometry behind the whole Molecule notion. We ended up with almost two hundred theoretical panels, each of them in the shape of a rhombus (on the vertical projection) (Fig.11-A, Fig.11-B, Fig.11-C). We say “theoretical” because by then there was nothing holding the planks together. The planks were individual entities meant to be joined into panels. Next stage involved deciding on a structure to hold the planks together as real stand-alone panels.

Rhombic tilling of ceiling panels

Fig.11-A – Rhombic tilling of ceiling panels

Planks cut in Rhombic grid

Fig.11-B – Planks cut in Rhombic grid

3D surface formed by planks

Fig.11-C – 3D surface formed by planks

The solution came in the form of nuts and bolts. Literally! We devised a structural system that involves small cylinders interposed in between planks serving as a separators to maintain the distance between planks (Fig.12-A). The cylinders and planks are threaded with bolts that transfer the loads from plank to plank (Fig.12-B). Each ceiling panel is unique and different to the next one thus the structure is also unique in each panel (Fig.12-C).

Structural separators

Fig.12-A – Structural separators

Nuts and bolts

Fig.12-B – Nuts and bolts

3D structure exploded view

Fig.12-C – 3D structure exploded view