What's happening now at Because We Can

Making the Icebergs - BecauseWeDynamo

As an Architectural Design-Build Studio, We love leveraging technology in unique ways to make our latest designs into real, physical pieces. While we've developed a decent amount of in-house software and tools over the years, we're still very excited about our latest software toolset BecauseWeDynamo. We have mentioned this tool set before on our blog, but with the latest project we've completed, some great edits and changes have been made, so it is worth mentioning again.

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BecauseWeDynamo, in case you didnt catch it the first time, is an ever changing design rationalization product focused on taking complex models to fabrication. It is a set of custom ‘nodes’ for Dynamo, which is a software program created by Autodesk as a ‘functional visual scripting language’ for creating, manipulating, and automating all sorts of design data by non-programmers. (And we have released our code openly on Github!)

Rather than write code from scratch where the ‘flow’ of the program is abstract and non-visual, or call on existing libraries, and produce a stand-alone application like a software developer might, tools like Project Dynamo let you ‘draw’ your program and lets us easily create one-off workflow solutions to automate small repetitive tasks and model impressively complex objects. This is perfect for visual designers like us! By connecting various ‘nodes’ together, we can ‘wire’ together a solution for project-specific problems, iteratively working our way through designs as the code runs live, seeing the immediate results.


Most recently we used this tool set to create a sea of complex, faceted furniture for one of our recent projects: The Port Workspaces at The Kaiser Center. The sea of 'Icebergs', as we came to call them were very complex, and each one completely unique.


The Icebergs, designed and fabricated using white laminate, were created to provide a combination of lounging, sitting and standing meeting & work space. No two of these units are the same. We designed the brackets inside the units so the clean form is all that is visible. Using our scripts we were able to quickly make changes to these forms as the fabrication & design iterations progressed to allow for an organic building process. We modified the designs as we built the units, fixing and foreseeing issues with a “just in time design” building process.


This project, like most of our projects, was designed and fabricated in our in-house design studio and fabrication shop using our robust BecauseWeDynamo tool set combined with our CNC machines. The video shared here (at the bottom of the post) shows one of our CNC machines numbering the pieces before cutting them out. Our ongoing goal with this Dynamo project is to make the fabrication of elements easier and more efficient, thus empowering all designers to be able to make great things like we do!


One thing our custom programming helps do is parse the design model, label every shape, lay them all out flat, and then export them to digital fabrication production. For this particular project, it created the brackets and numbered them for location placement. It made short work of these laborious tasks, and helped us fabricate these wonderful and complex designs efficiently and effectively.


Within BecauseWeDynamo you’ll find programs for part labeling, DXF exporting (with proper true curves!), mesh topology walking, edge labeling, and even our own custom old-school line-based pen-plotter style font suitable for CNC production. We’ve even got some auto-sectioning tools (like 123D Make!), and are currently working on Nodes to help automate shop drawing production and development of complex surfaces.


Releasing our code openly on Github allows others to experiment as we are, and the code will come back to us with improvements and ideas that we would not have thought of ourselves. Our toolset can be found through Dynamo through the Package Manager as BecauseWeDynamo, and the open-source code is hosted here on GitHub, which allows anyone to use it, change it and share it again, as an ever evolving tool set. You’ll find on the GitHub site some great working examples, and we’ll be developing more samples & how-tos.


SF Chronicle article highlights our recenct Oakland project

The Oakland based co-working space we finished renovations on in June is highlighted in this weeks SF Chronicle, the Sunday addition.
A project that we completed in early summer of this year, The Port Workspace is three floors of awesome co-working.


Working closely with our client, as we always to, we renovated this empty shopping mall in the heart of Oakland into a vibrant co-working space.
The project is open now. You can see more on The Port Workspace Broadway location on our projects page.


The Serpent Twins at Nantes Maker Faire!

We are very excited to have just returned from Nantes, France, where The Serpent Twins were one of the main attractions at this years Maker Faire in Nantes, France.

July 7th & 8th, 2016 Maker Faire Nantes was hosted at Les Machines de l'île, and the Serpent Twins from Oakland were one of the main attractions!


Les Machines de l’île, self explained as a "crossroads of Jules Verne’s "invented worlds", of the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial history, on the exceptional site of the former shipyards".
We are so excited to have been part of this amazing group of artist fabricators and that a piece we worked on was among such amazing company.



Here is a great video from Saturday night at the Faire -- the amazing 'dance' of The Serpent Twins with Kumo, the spider....

And our front set up for The Serpent's resting spot, with signage and lanterns...


Summer 2016 BWC Open House this Friday

It's our Summer Open House. Please join us in welcoming our new robots to the shop!

From 5 PM until 8PM or so, we'll open our doors and fire up our new robot arms to celebrate the summer. We'll be showcasing some recently completed projects and raising a glass to all the great people we know and work with.

We'll be dancing (with robot arms), drinking, snacking, talking, and showing off. It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us, if you want to learn more about what we do and how we do it.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners around here. And they might learn some interesting new words!

Friday, June 24th

5PM - 8PM

2500 Kirkham St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 922-8846
Click here for the Google Map.


Dot & Bo's Interval Write Ups

Here are two really cool articles about The Interval at The Longnow done by Dot & Bo.

The first post is a photo tour with descriptions about the bar itself and the objects within it. It is called tour the mechanical wonders of The Interval.

The second one is a photo essay interviewing us and the The Longnow foundation about the space, what it's for and what it means. This essay is wonderfully named: The secrets behind San Francisco's mechanical cafe.

Both of these are fun and worth a read.


The Port Workspaces at The Kaiser Center- now officially open!

We are proud to announce our latest project in Oakland has just officially opened!
Though they have been operating for a while, under construction, their big opening party and ribbon cutting by Oakland's own mayor Libby Schaaf was in early June.

A 60,000 sqft campus and three floors of really cool work space, we have spent the last year working on the designs for this space and fabricating some really great pieces.
Our project page is just up on our website, so you can read all about the specifics there.
But a few highlights include: Tiki Bar, Iceberg Seating, Astroturf Hills, Really Big Fountain, Shipping Container Conference Rooms, and some Awesome Murals.

Really Cool Murals!

IceBerg Seating Units

Shipping Container Conference Rooms and Rope Wall

Astroturf Hills!

And for those who would like some details on the project: here is an article from the San Francisco Business Times on the new space.

We're giving a talk tomorrow at the SF Dynamo User's Group

We're proud to be giving a talk tomorrow at the San Francisco Dynamo User's Group, where we'll be showing off our recent series of Nodes for Fabrication called 'BecauseWeDynamo'.

Thanks to HOK and Ideate for inviting us. The event is free, and you can register here.

Hope to see you there!

Judging for the U.S. Department of Education CTE Makeover Challenge

We are honored to be among the judges for the The U.S. Department of Education CTE Makeover Challenge!

'As part of President Obama’s Nation of Makers initiative, The U.S. Department of Education (ED) invited schools to enter the CTE Makeover Challenge by submitting a design for a CTE makerspace. All eligible schools were invited to participate in the CTE Makeover Bootcamp, a 6-week program that provided resources and expertise in makerspace design and planning. $200,000 in cash and other prizes will be distributed to a maximum of 10 honorees to turn their vision for a makerspace into a reality. Honorees will produce and submit a video tour of their constructed makerspaces and compile an online portfolio of materials for use in the CTE Makerspace Showcase, which will take place at the World Maker Faire in New York City in October 2016.'

We are excited to be a part of this push for more hands on learning in schools!

The Interval, ever growing

The Interval at The Longnow continues to be a vibrant and ever growing venue. (And it continues to get tons of praise from the press!)
Being the Architecture, Design-Build studio behind the venue, we are happy to be an ongoing part of their success as we come up with creative ways to support their needs.
Most recently we installed removable chalk board and walnut framed mirror pieces that hang over the back bar shelving.


On the wall next to the bar we also created a plaque that explains their donor bottle program, as well as a few shelves to display the coffee beans they sell.


Keeping with the aesthetic of the space, all the pieces were made from locally felled walnut with hand made metal details and modeled in the latest 3D CAD software.
Combining the best of the old and the new.


More things BWC at Maker Faire!

We're getting really exited about this years Bay Area Maker Faire..... looks like a great line up of fun stuff to see!

And now there are things to see related to Because We Can on both Saturday & Sunday!
To add to an already fun filled day, BWC's metal fabricator Alice Hopkins, will be on a panel Saturday at The Make:Live stage.
She'll be talking about working in the metal fabrication industry and answering questions. Come on by!

The next day wing over to Center Stage at 11:30 AM to see Jeffrey's talk on programmatic designs, and how we are doing them at BWC!

And then Jeffrey & Jillian are on a panel at the end of the day Sunday on living and working together.

We hope to see you all there!

Maker Faire Bay Area 2016


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