It has been some weeks now since we turned the key that symbolized the start of the ONS 2014 conference in Stavanger and our interactive, conceptual installation “Breaking the Surface”. It has been a year since the first blog post and our first visit at Stavanger Forum to plan the space of what then was the very beginning of this exciting journey we all have been a part of.
The connection of different core competencies has been the key to success in this complex and demanding project. It has been the source of innovation, growth and progress, and the ability to together overcome the challenges we have encountered along the way.
From our high ambitions, the development of the idea and the concept last August, we have worked closely together with the project team to solve the complexity and to bring you this experience.
Our first ten years below the surface has brought us above the surface. With this experience as a celebration we are now ready to move on into our next ten years, bringing our “Breaking the Surface” installation with us into our new offices at Lysaker, to be inaugurated fall 2015. .
On behalf of Lundin Norway and the entire project team;
Thank you for your interest!
Follow us on Instagram @lundin_bts for updates during the next 48 hours leading up to the opening of ONS.
Frida Christina Larsson
Client Director & Project Manager, Scandinavian Design Group
In June Pivot were asked to create six crystals that contain authentic oil samples from the most important wells Lundin has discovered. It started off with a productive workshop on ideas, and a clear path was methodically set.
We quickly finalized the form for the crystal and started on the tooling. The high transparency of the material required a special approach. We digitalized the concept and 3D printed a plug for the shape of the mold. The surface finish of the plug needed a perfect finish and was painted by a professional automotive painter.
The capsules containing the oil samples was a task not suited to us, so we sourced a scientific glassware specialist who replicated our drop drawings with the greatest precision in two different versions. We opted for a high strength glass to cope with pressure from the emission of the oil.
In July we met unexpected challenges with the method used to seal the glass drops. We were sealing them with UV cure glue, but emissions from the oil were creating voids and extreme pressure in the capsule forcing the glue off due to the temperature from the exothermic reaction. There was no choice however of going for other alternative liquids, we had to use the original oil samples. After a phone call to one of Lundin Norway’s senior petrochemical engineers, we dissected the science of emissions and concocted a master plan. It was decided the glass drop had to be sealed by melting it shut, one obvious major problem is that fire and oil do not mix…
Our chat with Lundin came in handy. We had discussed factors to reduce gaseous emissions from the oil. James from Abida travelled up to a Gjøvik Glassverk and they successfully sealed the drops. After an initial test in the resin our worries were over.
A vital step was seeing the instillation in the flesh. We participated in the functional factory acceptance test (FAT) and unofficial opening of the installation at Intek in Raufoss with all of the partners in the project. After a successive short celebration, we set to work on how the instillation would interact with the crystals. A large scale fishing rod was fashioned up and the crystal was placed with precision and successfully tested.
The start of August saw the first production cast, due to the custom nature and process of the oil drops we had little room for error. A clear path of actions was established and executed to ensure the best result possible. The process started with cleaning the tool and glass drop to remove all contaminants, a thin fishing acted as an anchor and carefully dipped it UV cure glue. The line was then placed on the top of the drop and cured with a UV torch, the same done for the bottom. The drop was then sandwiched in the mold which then bound shut with two rigid boards. The resin was measured, mixed and then degassed to remove all bubbles. The resin was finally loaded into a syringe and injected carefully into the mold.
It was mid-August when we eagerly opened the first cast with the project team. We were all thrilled to see that the result far exceeded all of our expectations in terms of clarity and composition.
Design Engineer / Pivot Produktdesign
It’s been a very busy summer. In fact, it’s been so busy that none of us have been able to find the time to reflect over what’s been happening, let alone keep this blog up to date. Now that we are just short of three weeks away from our deadline, some of us(amazingly enough) have a couple of quiet days in Oslo while all the gear is being shipped to Stavanger. This has given me some time to skim through photos from the last couple of months and pick out a couple of goodies to share with whoever might be interested.
Since all the mechanichal parts and electronics arrived at Intek’s place in the beginning of June, the workshop in Raufoss has basically been on fire (figuratively speaking of course). At the most, more than 14 people worked on the project simultaneously, mounting wheels on shafts, shafts on servos, servos in brackets, brackets on rails, rails in the frame and the frame in the support structure. At the same time, hundreds of meters of cables where meticulously prepared and connected in-between servos, capacative sensor, ethercat terminals, power supplies and IPCs.
While most of Intek’s people where keeping busy finishing the hardware, me and James focused on the brain of the system, namely the software. At this time we had already laid down the ground works for the sensory part of the control system and now it was time to start communicating with the servo-units. At least a week was spent solely on tweaking velocity and acceleration parameters to get the right responsiveness from the motors without sacrificing stability and smoothness of motion.
From there on we added more and more servos to the system as they came “straight out of the oven”. As the installation grew physically, so did the fidelity of the control system. We added features like smart-homing and position compensation routines, individual torque calibration programs for doing robust collision detection, context dependent parameterisation of the servo-drives and many other “need-to-have”, as well as “nice-to-have” features.
After the first week of July we had finished one third of the installation and we were just getting ready to expand to the next third when we started seeing (or rather feeling) a totally new challenge emerge. The amount of friction between the PMMA tubes and the polyurethane wheels created massive loads of static electricity that was barely noticeable on one single unit, but practically unbearable when added up 189 times. We agreed that this would become too big of an issue to be ignored and started looking for solutions.
After a couple of days of research, some of the engineers at Intek (I believe it was Lars and Egil) came up with a great solution. By welding rows of highly conductive copper brushes between the stainless steel and the plexiglass pipes (without actually touching them) most of the static around the pipes was discharged through the metal before building up to the uncomfortable levels observed earlier.
From there on out, things really started to pick up speed. From working hard for more than four weeks to get the first 189 units in place we managed to triple that number within a hectic week of welding, mounting, calibrating and programming. For the first time we could see all of the individual parts working as a whole, and it is safe to say that we were all pretty overwhelmed by the scale of this creature that we had given life to.
Bjørn Gunnar Staal
Designer & Programmer / Scandinavian Design Group
Our visit at Raufoss and Intek proved to be all we expected, and more. Our delegation of key Lundin personnel, press and partners finally got to see the what will become the the full scale installation. It will first be exhibited at ONS before being built into our new offices next year. This has been a long journey from strategy, concept development, budgeting, planning and prototyping to seeing the contours of a finished installation. I think we all was struck by the beauty and complexity of of the project, something that is hard to experience through sketches and project plans – The magic happens when you experience it for yourself!
We walked through the production piece by piece, the challenges that we have overcome and the ones remaining. The scale and innovation of this project we are confident will communicate the shift that we have taken from being a small company focused on exploration to becoming a full scale operator.
The installation will soon be transported from Raufoss to Stavanger and ONS, an operation with its own challenges. We then have ten days to rebuild it, and get the flow and responsiveness re-established technically. We hope that you will take time to come and visit us at ONS to see how engineering, architecture, programming, design and marketing has comes together in an extraordinary experience.
Head of External Relations, Lundin Norway
While we have been keeping busy in Oslo, developing software for acquiring and combining sensory data, the first batch of parts started arriving at Inteks facilities a couple of weeks ago. We went up there just before May 17th to look at detailed plans for the construction work and at the same time catch a glimpse of the first shipments of hardware. 23 industrial grade servo motors, 138 support wheels, 150kg of stainless steel and an endless amount of ethercat terminals, wires and bolts were just some of the things that would make up the first of 23 modules. Even though a lot of effort has gone into reducing the amount of parts that has to be assembled, it is still quite a task to transform boxes of parts into a moving, breathing functional installation.
At the end of last week, we reached the biggest milestone so far; the completion of the first modular rail of 23 drive-units. It was incredible to see something, that until then only existed in our minds and on skteches, finally starting to materialize. As we unpacked and mounted the plexiglass tubes I could see smiles starting to spread amongst everyone in the room. It was so great to see how everyone, from designers and architects to mechanical engineers and electricians started getting excited about what we were making.
From my viewpoint the installation looked even better than expected. The juxtaposition of raw machine aesthetics against the light elegance of glass was stunning, and the sheer scale of the whole thing was really impressive. Uniformly spaced vertical stretches, taller than most humans, combined to create beautiful patterns of lines, waves and reflections.
We spent the next couple of days writing code, test-driving and tweaking motor parameters to see if we could make the tubes move in a smooth, unified trajectory. We came pretty far by extending the work we had already done on the prototype to work with an array of units. After an initial period of head scratching and debugging (due to some weird motor configurations and a couple of switched wires) we started getting promising results. We ended the week on a high as we got the whole row of pipes moving vertically along a continuous sine wave. Besides a couple of units that needed some adjusting, the overall motion was very smooth and precise. In the coming weeks the installation will keep growing as the support frame is finished and more rows are assembled and mounted. I can’t wait till we have the full installation in place, ready to be integrated with our motion trakcing system. Stay tuned!
Bjørn Gunnar Staal
Designer & Programmer / Scandinavian Design Group
Last week we finally got to realize our sensor floor application! As we earlier in the process developed a realistic and safe sensor scheme for the installation, we quickly realized the need of implementing an independent, secondary sensory backup system. In our meetings with Lundin Norway at this time, amongst other alternatives, we had actually been discussing developing a sensor floor. We came however swiftly to the conclusion that it wasn’t realistic to finish a custom made sensor floor in time for ONS 2014.
Luckily, we practically stumbled over a solution as Bjørn Gunnar read an article on Fast Co labs about a new product which met our exact demands for a functional sensor floor. After checking out references and discussing our application with the manufacturer, we decided to give this product a go.
Two representatives from the manufacturer of the sensor floor, Future-Shape in Germany, spent some days with us last week for commissioning and holding courses for our crew. With caring guidance and help from Jürgen and Axel, we were able to build up and test the functional and full scale version of the sensor floor we will be using for the actual installation.
The sensor floor will cover an area of approx. 40 m², enabling us to detect and track people independently from the optical systems (3D cameras) we will be using. If a person for whatever reason would fall into “camera shadow”, not being able to be tracked by our optical systems, the sensor floor will be able to step in and cover the blank spots. Principally, the floor works the same way as the touch screen on your cell phone or tablet (electrical capacitive sensing). In our case we are not only sensing fingers. We are tracking feet. Even “wirelessly” through the parquet flooring. In other words we are now dealing with a giant human touch screen!
During the week we were also able to finish writing a custom software layer that handles the communication with each sensor module and translates this information into real world coordinates. We still have a great deal of work ahead of us, but so far, we are really optimistic about where the project is headed!
James A. Fox
Robotics Engineer, Abida
It has been a long cold winter (At least in the parts of Norway where we have been spending our days lately). Since we started closing in on the concept that was closest to our heart by the end of 2013, we have been kept busy through the darkest months of the year, drafting out the road ahead. After enjoying the luxury of working with the immateriality of big ideas, reality hit us right in the face when we started planning for production.
We started in late December of last year, by drafting out a whole range of different possible technical solutions for the mechanical parts of the installation we were going to build. The solutions ranged from the simpler, more experimental applications, up to full-scale industrial solutions. As a very interseting and unusual twist of events, Lundin’s project group together with CEO Torstein Sannes, actually opted for the most substantial approach, effectively following up on their promise to stay ambitious and decisive throughout the project.
At the time we had already started evaluating our options for who to team up with, in the event that we decided to go for the upscale version. In that process we were particularly impressed by the plans proposed by an industrial automation company in Raufoss, called Intek. They had taken the time to thoroughly evaluate the problem at hand, and was ready to join our process and start working immediately.
The next step was to further develop and verify the initial designs of the dynamic installation. We had to obtain a strong confidence in performance of the main drive unit, since its blueprint was to be replicated several hundred times. Many productive days were spent together in coming up with a functional design for the units during the long winter months. Our greatest challenge was to make a well balanced compromise between high performance in functionality, simplicity in design, make the most out of the materials and minimize production costs. And above all, the highest priority was upholding and securing the safety for human interaction with the installation. We had to make sure that any needs for improvements in design had to be final before entering mass production. The remaining unanswered questions had ultimately to be resolved though a physical model.
Eventually, after we felt we had come as far as we could with calculations and simulations, the time was ripe to make the first physical prototype. We were thrilled to actually hold the physical unit in our hands after having spent so much time with the “virtual” model. Some new minor obstacles arose through testing. After having figured out and solved the nitty, gritty details and challenges, we were now progressing towards a mature prototype, ready for full scale manufacturing.
While a huge part of the efforts at Raufoss went into the mechanical design of the installation, we were focused in parallell in Oslo on writing software to test out the integration of all the different mechanical and sensory parts as one functional system. This involved writing control software for the servo-motors (PLC and higher-level software) and trying out different sensors for monitoring the mechanical system so that we could integrate these elements for safe physical human interaction.
For our first functional prototype we used off-the-shelf, consumer depth cameras to track people in the area where we installed the drive unit. We were amazed by the accuracy that we got from just applying basic algorithms for figuring out the distance from the closest moving object to the mechanical parts of our system.
By the first week of March we were ready to reveal the functional prototype for Lundin’s project team. This was the first time we connected our vision software with our control software, and was pleased to see how the two systems performed together. We were all quite satisfied with the demonstration, assured that we now had a proof of concept and were finally ready to enter full scale production. Many important, interesting questions and thoughts were generated and discussed this day. This in turn has helped us to move forward towards solving and attending to the minor, yet important details of the final installation.
Bjørn & James
Scandinavian Design Group / Abida
Collaboration is key in our work and this project offered us a partnership like no other. An opportunity to work in such a well-rounded team opens new doors and inspires for new solutions. We started this project by exploring several concepts and soon narrowed down to 2 equally strong ideas which would both celebrate the ideas and aspirations of our client. With so many great ideas it makes for a tough decision to ultimately follow one path, but collectively the (right) decision was made and we started focusing in on one of the directions. Without revealing too much of the concept at this point (you might decipher something from the attached photos though) I can say that we are looking at building a mechanical installation piece as a central part of the exhibition space.
My approach to design is ironically both strong and soft, with the pavilion I have expressed a strong and informative form but simultaneously created a soft and comfortable series of spaces for people to experience. The strong, angular expression of the pavilion encompasses inviting spaces with “soft” walls and warm tones of floor and furnishings. From the outset our ambition was to give the installation the right setting. It is like embracing a jewel, the surroundings should be non-confrontational but also have a life of its own.
As the project architect, I wanted to offer both an informative experience to the visitor but to also create the right setting to accomplish the client’s ambitions. Often we forget about the small sensibilities and subtleties with designing space and here we hope to address some of these issues by looking very closely at the details and materiality. With such an ambitious and highly visible concept we have to allow the public full access to all spaces but we must also ensure space for business. To accomplish this we have used 3 levels.
The first level acts as a meeting and mingling space where the audience catches a glimpse of the “main event.” On the second level we experience the installation from within, a suspended moving, interactive installation that shines as a tribute to Lundin and their work. This space is mainly enclosed and will feel like an exhibition room. White cloth walls with blurred and diffused structure dimly revealed from behind will encase the warm glowing installation. The upper level will offer a different expression and aesthetic, here we celebrate the innovation and engineering, exposing the processes and makings of the installation. At this level the visitor walks around the installation rather than through it as below. This level also offers a space to sit, reflect and perhaps do a little business.
Close collaboration with the other parties and the client has helped shape the project and its solutions, one part would not work without the other and this seamless transition from branding to interactive design to engineering to architecture to interior design and back again will be clearly (in)visible to the visitor and acts as a celebration to mixed creativity and to close collaborative working methodologies.
The last couple of weeks have been really interesting in terms of creating a conceptual platform for the work that lies ahead of us. From the very beginning of the project we decided to work closely with people from Lundin on every aspect of the project, to make sure that we end up with a result that we all feel proud of. This meant spending a lot of time together, looking at references, discussing concepts and at times having heated debates about everything from the big ideas to the tiniest details.
When we first discussed the option of bringing in a project group from Lundin, we were thinking of something along the lines of two or three people that could be involved on a regular basis. That’s why we were both surprised (and a tiny bit anxious I might add) when we first got introduced to the full group of eight people! Its not that we dislike people, but from our experience it can be challenging to keep such a large group focused enough to make decisions and keep the project moving. After our first workshop with the group though, I forgot why I ever worried.
We kick started the first workshop by inviting the full project group to our offices where we had set up a workspace dedicated to this particular project. We used the space actively to map out the different aspects of the project; what we had learned about the company so far, their position in the industry, the context in which we will first exhibit the project and a whole bunch of photos from fantastic projects that could inspire us to think big about what the result of our work could be.
During the next couple of weeks we plowed our way through hundreds of bad ideas with the hope of finding a few good ones. We were constantly being pushed and pulled between the desire to create something spectacular and the need to communicate something relevant. It was interesting to see how the discussions often escalated in to pseudo-philosophical debates about everything from geology to leadership and company culture.
Gradually, we have started to see the contours of some promising ideas and this last week we have been pushing hard to prioritise which of these will make it to the next round. At this point, I’m really happy to say we have ended up selecting two very different, but equally promising concepts. I think its safe to say that both of them carry the potential of becoming truly unique creations. It will be really interesting to see how the two concepts evolve once we start designing some spacial concepts for the different schemes.
Bjørn Gunnar Staal
Designer & Programmer / Scandinavian Design Group