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LITHOCUBUS rhyolite house rhyolite house rhyolite house rhyolite house

Lithocubus  is a seating device that takes its inspiration and its name from the Radiolarians, a variety of plankton described by Ernst Haeckel.  Haeckel was a zoologist from the University of Jena.  In the 1860s and 70s Haeckel made a scientific expeditions in the Mediterranean and to the Canary Islands during which he made precise drawings of the organisms he observed under his microscope.  These drawings were published as die Radiolarien (1862); and Report on the Scientific  Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876.

Radiolarians are unicellular, but are divided into a membrane containing endoplasm and outer membranes containing ectoplasm.  They have skeletons made of silica, that form by accretion between the bubble-like vesicles of ectoplasm surrounding the organism.  In his book, On Growth and Form, D’Arcy Thompson described the minimal surface geometry apparent in the Radiolarians.

The structure of Lithocubus follows that of radiolarians.  The aluminum frame of Lithocubus is defined by the interstices between adjacent bubbles.  The resulting arched forms are rigid in compression.  Affixed to this skeleton is an outer fabric membrane.  The organization into a compressive frame and a tensile membrane follows the logic of large-scale tensile fabric structures.  The membrane is a vinyl coated polyester mesh with an open weave, so the fabric is relatively transparent, allowing the internal frame to be seen.

As a seating device, Lithocubus can be placed on any of its six sides, affording three seating heights.  The aluminum frame protrudes through the fabric to elevate it off the ground.  The fabric supporting the body is held by tension rings at the corners and does not contact the frame.  All faces of the aluminum frame  are developable approximations of the synclastically curved forms derived from the minimal surface geometry of the bubbles.  The fabric surface, a complexly-curved, tensile membrane, has a more fluid geometry.