Subdivision / Michael Hansmeyer

© Hansmeyer

When we came across the work of Michael Hansmeyer, we were struck by the complexity and the seemingly delicacy of his work.   Educated as an architect and computer programmer, Hansmeyer intends to create a new kind of architectural expression using the mathematics of algorithms.   “On the one hand, their [algorithms] computational power can address processes with a scale and complexity that precludes a manual approach. On the other hand, algorithms can generate endless permutations of a scheme. A slight tweaking of either the input or the process leads to an instant adaptation of output. When combined with an evaluative function, they can be used to recursively optimize output on both a functional and aesthetic level,” explained Hansmeyer.  His Subdivision project features geometrically intricate surfaces that create an artistically articulated variety of columns.   The 2.7 meter high columns are fabricated as a layered model with sheets 1mm thick.

More about the process after the break.

© Hansmeyer

The individually cut sheets are stacked and held together by poles that run through a common core.  To cut the sheets, the astonishing 6 million faces of the 3D model are intersected with a plane representing the sheet.   As Hansmeyer explains on his website, “This step generates a series of individual line segments that are tested for self-intersection and subsequently combined to form polygons. Next, a polygon-in-polygon test deletes interior polygons. A series of filters then ensures that convex polygons with peninsulas maintain a minimum isthmus width. In a final step, an interior offset is calculated with the aim of hollowing out the slice to reduce weight.  While the mean diameter of the column is 50cm, the circumference as measured by the cutting path can reach up to 8 meters due to jaggedness and frequent reversals of curvature.”

© Hansmeyer

So far, the initial prototype has been constructed from 1mm grey board and progress is being made on testing ABS, wood, and metal for the fabrication.

© Hansmeyer

“A computational approach to architecture enables the generation of the previously unseen. Forms that can longer be conceived of through traditional methods become possible. New realms open up,” added the designer.

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Subdivision / Michael Hansmeyer" 26 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Sep 2014. <>


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    It is an interesting concept, but seems to be a very shallow work, once the geometry is created by a computer, not the architect himself.

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      As increadible as computers may be, they actually don’t create anything without someone (in this case, the architect) operating them and making choices, deciding what to do and which way to go. It is indeed a beautiful and inspiring work, don’t underestimate it. It will be interesting to see what comes next from this kind of experiment.

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    I have been a fan of his work for a few years now, and I think he is one of the more mature proponents of algorithmic design.

    He designed the algorithm that created the geometry, so it is one order higher than how we would normally do it, but i would still credit him with the design, not the computer

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    interesting work, more like a 21st century gothic. i think the base , the column and capital should be more emphasized.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    There´s nothing new in here, only the process, maybe.

    This kind of aproach already exists in some ghotic buildings

    And almost 150 years ago, an architect particulary explored brilliantly this type of creation. The name? Antoni Gaudi.

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