A couple of years ago, digital fabrication was making headlines regularly, promising to drastically change the architecture practice. The revolution in architecture might not have arrived yet, but research projects, experiments and the dedication of several architects and universities already opened a new realm of possibilities for architectural expression. Therefore, it seems appropriate to give an overview of the impact the technology had so far within the architecture practice. This article covers the different types of processes within the field and the projects that experiment with them, with the scope of reframing the architectural potential of digital fabrication.
Space10: The Latest Architecture and News
IKEA’s research and design lab SPACE10 has created a new open source Bee Home. Working with Bakken & Bæck and designer Tanita Klein, the team has launched the free Bee Home project to coincidence with the United Nations International Bee Day. The project takes advantage of digital fabrication and parametric design so that people can design and fabricate their own Bee Home locally.
SPACE10 has opened a new research and design lab in Delhi, India. The opening aims to create a collaborative platform where experts, creatives and specialists in multiple fields can meet, experiment, and prototype solutions for everyday life. The new lab opens inside Chhatarpur's Dhan Mill Compound in South Delhi.
Some assembly required for this vision of future urban living. Known for simple, well-designed, flat-pack furniture, IKEA is proposing expanding their DIY-model to a much larger scale: entire city centers. Democratic Design Days is an annual event where IKEA introduces its upcoming brands and collaborations, this year featuring The Urban Village Project, a collaboration between SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects. After two years of research, SPACE10 (IKEA’s global research and design lab) is releasing their vision to the public for a new way to design, build, and share our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
IKEA’s research and design laboratory SPACE10 has unveiled their latest project, SolarVille, to showcase new ways to democratize access to clean, renewable energy. Based in Copenhagen, the team partnered with blockchain experts BLOC, Blocktech, WeMoveIdeas India and architecture practice SachsNottveit. The project explores how combining new technologies with solar power can make clean energy more affordable. The vision centers on cooperative micro-grids where homeowners can become makers and traders of clean energy.
The dream of universal affordable housing has been an idea tried and tested by architects throughout history. From the wacky Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller, an imagining of how we would live in the future, to mail-order houses able to be assembled like IKEA furniture, many proposals have tackled the challenge of creating affordable housing or dwellings which could be replicated no matter the time and place. However, although their use of techniques such as pre-fabrication and cheap materials seemed, in theory, to be able to solve pressing issues of homelessness and the global housing crisis, time and time again these proposals have simply failed to take off. But why?
IKEA’s research lab SPACE10 is attempting to find an answer to this question through open-source collaboration. By releasing their design of a micro-house that used only one material and one machine to make it and an accompanying website that catalogs the process and invites feedback, they are inviting architects, designers, and aspiring home-owners to work together in creating a solution which could improve the lives of millions. “The vision,” they say, “is that by leveraging the world’s collective creativity and expertise, we can make low-cost, sustainable and modular houses available to anyone and, as a result, democratize the homes of tomorrow.”
What if your apartment was more than just a place to live? What if it was a catalyst for social interactions? Or what if it removed the everyday tedious tasks of cleaning, paying bills, and buying furnishings? Co-living, a modern form of housing where residents share living spaces, is aiming to do just that.
Co-living is growing in popularity in major cities such as London and New York, where increasing housing prices are forcing residents to look at new and adaptive ways to rent in the city. When we discussed the ambitions and inspirations behind the co-living movement in 2016, it was still a concept that was in its relatively experimental stages. Today, co-living is more focused in its mission, and has found success by pushing people together through a collection of common themes: a yearning for social connection, participation in an increasingly shared economy, and the affordability of a convenient housing solution.
SPACE10, the future-living lab created by IKEA, announced this week a "playful research project" to investigate the future of co-living. One Shared House 2030, a website created in collaboration with New York-based designers Anton & Irene, asks members of the public to "apply" for acceptance to an imagined co-living community in the year 2030, outlining their preferences for the types of people they would like to live with, the way they would like the community to be organized, and the things they would be willing to share with others. SPACE10 hopes that the research project will provide information on whether co-living could offer potential solutions to issues such as rapid urbanization, loneliness, and the growing global affordable housing crisis.
Open Source Plan for a Modular Urban Gardening Structure Offers a Flexible Design for Locally Grown Food
As a response to the fast-paced city life, GrowMore is an urban gardening modular design with endless configurations to suit even the most unexpected of spaces. Designed by Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum, the modular building kit provides an opportunity for social interaction and locally grown vegetation, reminding people to pause and connect with nature.
SPACE10's latest project displayed last week at Copenhagen's CHART art fair hosts the secret to combating malnutrition, greenhouse gases and ending deforestation - a pretty steep demand for a structure only four meters tall. The hero of this story is a microalgae that runs through the three hundred and twenty meters of tubing entwined around the pavilion.
IKEA's future living lab worked with bioengineer, Keenan Pinto and three architects, Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski and Anna Stempniewicz to build a photobioreactor that facilitates the high production of microalgae that can be grown almost anywhere on the planet. During the three days of the fair, 450 liters of algae was grown as visitors got to experience the full extent of the neon green process.
Picking up on the debate surrounding digitization in fabrication and its impact on traditional crafts, Copenhagen-based SPACE10, the future-living laboratory created by IKEA, recently invited three architects—Yuan Chieh Yang, Benas Burdulis, and Emil Froege—to explore the potentials of CNC milling for traditional craft techniques. The architects came up with three divergent yet equally innovative solutions to address the fundamental issue that plagues digital production: an apparent lack of a "human touch." In a Post-Fordist world increasingly dominated by customization, this investigation holds obvious importance for a company which deals primarily in mass-produced ready-to-assemble products; however, with its advocation for the infusion of dying classical craft techniques into the digital manufacturing process, the experiment could be meaningful for many other reasons.
Fresh off winning the “Design of the Year” for their refugee housing solution, the “Better Shelter,” IKEA is again making waves for a pioneering, flat pack solution to societal needs. Developed by the IKEA innovation lab Space10 alongside architects sine lindholm and mads-ulrik husum, the spherical “Growroom” is a DIY garden structure intended to help people “grow their own food much more locally in a beautiful and sustainable way.” And now, plans for the structure have been made available online for free via Space10’s open source platform, giving anyone the opportunity to build their own 3-dimensional garden.