Every year the Serpentine Gallery commissions an Architect to design a pavilion which will sit on its lawn, greeting the hundreds of thousands of people who will visit over the summer months. Temporary pavilions like this are an important chance for architects to test new ideas, and to communicate to the public what architecture is and could be.
Unless you’re in London, you may not get the opportunity to visit the pavilion physically, but thanks to the web we can take you there virtually.
These days, nearly every architect uses a computer. Whether it’s for 3D modeling, documentation or even creating a program spreadsheet, computers are well entrenched within the profession. Architects now need to know almost as much about software as they do about structures, building codes, and design.
As our tools become more powerful and sophisticated, we need to evolve and develop our working methods in order to stay competitive. I’ve written previously about how architects should learn to code. A lot of the problems we need to solve don’t fall within the capabilities of off-the-shelf software. We need to tweak and customize our tools to work the way we work. Creating our own tools and software is one way to do this.
That said, the reality is that not everyone has the time or the inclination to learn how to code. It’s time-consuming and you’ve got projects to run, show drawings to review, and buildings to design. Fortunately there are new tools available that deliver the power of programming without the need for all that typing.
Enter computational design and visual programming.
Swept up in an age of digitization and computing, architecture has been deeply affected in the past decade by what some critics are calling “The Third Industrial Revolution.” With questions of craft and ethics being heavily present in the current architectural discourse, projects taking advantage of these new technologies are often criticized for their frivolous or indulgent nature. On the other hand, there has been an emergence of work that exemplifies the most optimistic of this “Third Industrial Revolution” – an architecture that appropriates new technology and computation for the collective good of our cities and people.
We’ve collected 7 of these projects, ranging from exemplars of engineering to craft and artistry; projects that 80 years after Le Corbusier’s modernist handbook hint at a further horizon – towards a newer architecture.
Founded in 1989, Asymptote Architecture is one of those rare practices that gained their initial notoriety despite the fact that in the early years of their practice most of their designs went unbuilt. As a result, only in the last decade or so have the practice's futuristic and parametric forms truly been tested as physical architecture, with projects such as the Yas Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi. In this installment of his “City of Ideas” column,Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks with Asymptote founders Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture about their inspirations, the creation of space and whether architecture can ever be thought of as solving problems.
Vladimir Belogolovsky:I noticed little arrows at your reception saying, “Administration” to the left, “Picabia” to the left, “Studio 2” to the left, “Duchamp” to the right…What are these things?
Hani Rashid: These are the names we have attributed to our meeting spaces using the names of the influences that are acting on us, our cultural ghosts. For example, the room we are now in is “Constant” referring to the great visionary Constant Nieuwenhuys but also a play on “constant” as a verb meaning something is always happening here. [Laughs.] And this naming system also serves to remind us that the work that we do here is not only about the “business” of designing buildings but more importantly, it has to do with the nature of our thinking and a shared passion in this office for developing new and insightful ideas.
The advent of parametricism has brought architects many new design capabilities; form finding, sun shading and visual texturing are just a few of the ways the technology has impacted structures. But perhaps its most noble function is its ability to optimize structure, especially through the folding of thin, rigid materials. This is the function that architect Tal Friedman has chosen to explore in his Origami Pavilion.
Craftsmanship is one of those topics which it seems almost everyone has a strong opinion. But while many lament the fact that traditional craft practices have been in decline since the industrial revolution, today a new generation of architects and designers have set about redefining and updating the notion of craft to include the most modern design and fabrication techniques around. In this article, originally published on Autodesk's Line//Shape//Space publication as "5 Ways Architects and Postdigital Artisans Are Modernizing Craftsmanship," Jeff Link explores some of the traits that connect these pioneers to the craftsmen and women of a bygone era.
Craftsmanship in the digital age is hard to define. For some, craftsmanship evokes a purity of style, a preference for the handmade over the machine. For others, it recalls the Craftsman architecture of early-20th-century homes: overhung gabled rooflines, wide sheltered porches, detailed handiwork, and an ineffable Norman Rockwell sense of bygone Americana.
But regardless of one’s intuitive understanding of the term, the notion of craftmanship is evolving. Increasingly, the age-old knowledge of woodcarvers, masons, and other craftspeople is embedded in an intelligent design process using geometric computer models and machine fabrication to develop new crafts and architectural métiers—from gravity-defying furniture assemblies to complex workflows for robotic automatons. These innovations have helped place architects alongside craftsmen at the center of a revival in “maker” culture, which, for example, is in vivid display in handmade marketplaces such as Folksy and Etsy.
So what exactly is digital craft? And what does it look like in the work of top designers? Here, innovative architects identify five things postdigital artisans are doing to transform craftsmanship.
We’ve always been a profession of hackers. Every building is a one-off made up of countless elegant hacks, each bringing disparate materials and systems together into a cohesive whole. But when it comes to the software that designers have come to rely on, most of us have been content with enthusiastic consumerism, eagerly awaiting the next releases from software developers like Autodesk, McNeel (Rhino) and Bentley (MicroStation).
It’s been 5 years since we officially launched our research program at the Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design, and during that period we’ve come to understand the evolution of our process reflects the larger, changing relationship architects have with their means of production. Specifically, we've noticed that in late 2007 something changed. McNeel introduced a visual programming plugin called Grasshopper, and more and more architects began to hack their tools as well as their buildings.
Emergent Technologies and Design Programme (EmTech) at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London has recently exhibited their project, The TWIST at the Timber Expo in Birmingham. The project is an experimentation in the properties of milled plywood, developed throughout 1:1 tests. Through these experiments, The TWIST seeks to gain full control of the material properties, developing articulated surfaces with the variable orientation of its elements. Read more about the project after the break.
Standing 3 meters (10 feet) tall, Benjamin Dillenburger and Michael Hansmeyer's Arabesque Wall is an object of intimidating intricacy. 3D printed over the course of four days from a 50 Gigabyte file, the piece is a demonstration of the incredible forms achievable with algorithmic design and 3D printing - however with its overwhelming complexity it is also a test of human perception.
"Architecture should surprise, excite, and irritate," explain Dillenburger and Hansmeyer. "As both an intellectual and a phenomenological endeavor, it should address not only the mind, but all the senses - viscerally. It must be judged by the experiences it generates."
Experimental architect and psychologist Margot Krasojevic has been designing literally in-credible structures for her entire career. Starting with more conceptual designs, her parametric and outlandish forms are becoming increasingly buildable, and several, including her Jetway Hotel, are under construction. Following on from her latest project, an artificial snow cave which functions as an emergency shelter, ArchDaily was able to talk to Krasojevic about what goes into her work, how she designs and how she feels about the current architectural media - us included.
The question "what is the point of all this?" has dogged architecture for as long as anyone cares to look, but since the millenniumthe purely theoretical yet theoretically possible designs of Margot Krasojevic have taken this question as a challenge. Her latest proposal, a mesh shelter that takes the concept of snow caves and applies it to an artificial structure, is built for an eminently practical purpose: a built emergency shelter for climbers and others caught in extreme conditions. Yet the elaborate, high tech and naturally contoured structure is as much a thought experiment as it is a serious architectural proposal.
Launched in May of 2014, ThinkParametric is an online platform for learning the tools of the digital architecture trade. Gaining access to their video tutorials and the benefit of their online community would usually set you back $29 per month, or $269 for an entire year. However, to celebrate a successful first year, on March 12th they announced an "Open Class Season," a full month for people to enjoy their courses for free.
Cylinders, spheres and cubes are a small handful of shapes that can be defined by a single word. However, most shapes cannot be found in a dictionary. They belong to an alternative plastic world defined by trigonometry: a mathematical world where all shapes can be described under one systematic language and where any shape can transform into another. As digital tools are becoming increasingly complex, this book seeks to use mathematics "as a means to demystify the inner computational workings of digital tools" by proposing a framework to convey mathematical transformations as design tools.
The current state of architectural design incorporates many contemporary ideas of what defines unique geometry. With the advent of strong computer software at the early 21st century, an expected level of experimentation has overtaken our profession and our academic realms to explore purposeful architecture through various techniques, delivering meaningful buildings that each exhibit a message of cultural relevancy.
These new movements are not distinct stylistic trends, but modes of approaching concept design. They often combine with each other, or with stylistic movements, to create complete designs. Outlined within this essay are five movements, each with varying degrees of success creating purposeful buildings: Diagramism, Neo-Brutalism, Revitism, Scriptism, and Subdivisionism.
Created for AA DLAB 2014 - the annual summer workshop undertaken by the Architectural Association at their Hooke Park facility - the 4.4 metre wide "CALLIPOD" pavilion blends perfectly into the wooded surroundings, appearing as though the roots of nearby trees have sprung from the ground to create a dome in the depths of the Dorset woodland. However, despite its natural outward appearance, the process of creating CALLIPOD was highly technical, combining a detailed algorithmic exploration of form and structure with both digital and traditional methods of fabrication.
Architects have always pushed the limit, often experimenting with forms and technologies unavailable in their time. In the last 20 years, we experienced a small revolution in thinking about spaces and embracing complexity, as computers started to show their real power. Since Gehry’s Guggenheim came to life in the mid nineties, nothing has been the same: free forms emerge everywhere from the dreamland to reality (often becoming someone else’s nightmare). Before this computer technology, except for the realm of the mind and clay modeling, real control over complexity through technical drawings was too hard a game for us ordinary mortals but eventually, in the last 10 years or so more powerful and cheaper computers and even cheaper software, capable of astonishing parametric-generated design elements, came out. Since then, new generations of designers have started to set free mind-blowing ideas, showing the world amazing computer generated pictures. Some architects even started to build them.
A group of architecture students from Ball State University, together with professors Gernot Riether and Andrew Wit, have transformed a post-industrial landscape in Muncie, Indiana, into a new destination for the city’s local art fair with the construction of the Underwood Pavilion. The parametric tensegrity structure, made from 56 lightweight, self-shading modules of Elastan fabric, provides visitors with refuge from the sun and framed views of the surrounding landscape.
This two-minute video with NBBJ’s Andrew Heumann highlights a valuable capability of parametric design; whereby the architect can optimize the shape and orientation of a building to appropriate a variety of viewing conditions at the client’s request.