For my final project, I decided to create a topographical map of Copper Mountain. Copper Mountain is a ski resort that holds a lot of meaning for me, because it is a place where I have a lot of memories from my childhood, and also continue to go to for fun. Currently I have a few ideas of how to express the aesthetic that I am going for with this project.
I chose to use laser cutting to create a three dimensional map of Copper. This would involve taking slices of the elevation, and adhering the layers together to build up the form of the final project. I created a prototype of a similar idea several years ago, as pictured below, but I learned a lot from that project that I would change. Creating Copper would be a much different process, because it would be more of a landscape, as opposed to a single shape, which would make it a more complicated assembly. I also want to choose different materials to achieve the aesthetic I want. I would not use chip board or cardboard, because I found in this prototype that I was displeased with the final aesthetic. Finally, I also want to and I would scale the height of the layers properly to the size of the landscape so that the elevation had the correct ratio to the surface area, which I did not do in this case. Finally, I want to use LED lights to illuminate the part of the map that represents the ski village. This goes back to my personal aesthetic post, where I mentioned alpenglow, and the illuminating of the mountains at night time. This is one of my favorite aesthetics, so I want to be sure to include this. I also think that it would look super cool at night time, when the LEDs could illuminate the shape of the mountains. I am also trying to figure out how to capture the color of a ski resort at night, with the glow of the lights on white snow.
I used a program to generate elevation lines on a map of Copper, and took the lines to a resolution I was happy with. I decided to use 21 lines, set an equal distance apart. By calculating that the area of land that I took was about 17,900 meters (square) and the peak of Copper is about 2600 meters vertical from the base, I found about a 6.9:1 ratio. From this, I was able to calculate that the thickness of each slice should be a little less than 1/8th of an inch, which I rounded to 1/8 for ease of material location.
I then took each of the layers from the contour map, and put them on an individual square to be laser cut in the program CorelDraw. I added an additional square cutout in the bottom left corner of the bottom layers (which would get covered up by the upper layers) to leave room for electronics such as a battery pack. I fit the smaller pieces into this cutout to save on material costs. Finally, I added a small rectangle into the highest pieces in order to be able to orient all the layers, both in position and in angle.
(personal image from CorelDraw2020)
I separated each of these layers into sets of two so that they fit the dimensions of the laser cutter.
(personal image from CorelDraw2020)
Finally, I cut these layers out of a sheet of foam core. I assembled each of the pieces, and hot glued them together, all of which took about four hours.
(isometric view, top view – personal photos)
(side view, bottom view – personal photos)
Here, I have shown isometric, top, side, and bottom views. The cut out of the bottom is for the electronics, which I will prototype next. I was surprised by how much I liked the foam core material. I thought that this would be a “throw away” piece just to plan out the wood version, but I quite like the white color, and how the difference in texture and the burning of the foam in the center make for very distinct layers. Once I add the lights, I will decide whether or not to keep this as a final product, or if I feel the wood would be a preferable aesthetic. Another plus of this material is that it is extremely light, and would make it very easy to mount, or leave somewhere.
I will continue to work on this project, and update progress in the next post.