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AA_Aarhus Visiting School - 2016 Rethinking Patterns : Moving towards Heterogenic Structures web : @ : Architectural Association in collaboration with The Aarhus School of Architecture

contents pp . Intro pp 4 - 5 . Agenda 2015 pp 6 - 10 . Output 2015 pp 8 - 9 . Agenda 2016 pp 6 - 10 . Output 2016 pp . Sponsors

AA Visiting School Director: Dr. Christopher Pierce Programme Directors: Jens Pedersen Ali Farzaneh Programme Tutors: Asbjørn Søndergaard [Odico Formwork Robotics] Ryan Hughes [Aarhus School of Architecture] David Reeves [Zaha Hadid Architects] Tommaso Casuci [Zaha Hadid Architects] Jens Pedersen [AKT 2 p.ART department] Ali Farzaneh, [PhD Architectural Association] Microsite: Website: Contact: T +44 20 7887 4014 F +44 20 7414 0782 Email:



Thank You. As part of the 2016 AA_Aarhus Visiting School 24 participants joined us from all over the world. They were engaged and committed to their work and research making it possible to output a wide range of prototypes at various. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the opportunity to work with them and their hard work during the 10 days we spend together. A special thanks to:




SPONSORS Without the help of our sponsors we would not have been able to make the Aarhus Visiting School take place. All logos on this spread are from the companies and institutions who have aided us either through donations or their support in promoting the workshop. We humbly thank you.




AA_AARHUS 2015 In 2015 the Aarhus School of Architecture hosted a 10 day workshop in collaboration with the Architectural Association. This was part of an initiative between the two schools to investigate the implications of computational tools in design and fabrication under different scales of architecture. The workshops focused on novel computational software coupled with fabrication techniques that investigated designs particular to the ecology of Denmark. The advancements in computational tools have introduced a vast array of solutions in digital design, yet many of these solutions remain disassociated with the context in which they are situated. Last year’s theme: Rethinking Patterns: Exploring Heterogenic Structures looked to break the paradigm by using computation to generate and analyse patterns that are suited for the local aesthetic and context which they are situated in. This introduced the core research question that the workshop seeked to answer: “How can internal and external factors be used to generate new aesthetics local to a particular context?� As a part of the workshop, the participants were introduced to the basics of parametric modelling, digital fabrication and material behaviour. The available tools were: laser cutting, digital cutting, CNC milling and water-jet cutting. They worked as groups to investigate surface morphologies and more specifically how surfaces can be used to modulate light through pattern manipulations. The groups further explored the relationship between surfaces as 2D elements and their manipulation into spatial elements through folding or morphing among others. The following pages document their work.

GROUP 01 Group01 developed an exploratory structure, based on the inherent qualities of plywood, challenging its ability to bend and curve. They used a full 2.4m x 1.2m panel as their main component. The study explored the potential for a flat sheet to form and assemble in a coherent structure, using both digital simulation (using Kangaroo2 in Rhino/Grasshopper) and physical prototyping. Through a series of choreographed holes, rays of light are invited in and out of the structure, sometimes in sharp spots, sometimes in diffused haze contained within the embracing form. The light comes as an indicator of structural necessity, outlining the outstanding stresses embedded in the panel.

GROUP 03 Group03 explored how light interacts with reflective films. They developed a parasitic honeycomb structure, by using a grasshopper tool called cocoon, which produces IsoSurfaces. They situated their piece around a column in the exhibition space.


Group02 examined different qualities of light based on inspiration from old lamp designer Louis Poulsen. This led them to investigate light’s ability to be concentrated and dispersed. The starting point was an adaptable module that would allow light to manipulate. They developed a system of truncated pyramids controlled by set parameters, and influenced by a raytracing algorithm.

GROUP 04 Group04 experimented with how light can be controlled using carefully oriented planes and geometry. The complex nature of the global geometry led them to explore a series of challenges dealing in particular with fabrication techniques of aggregate systems, an issue that extends out to practice.

MESH MORPHOLOGIES During the Aarhus Visiting School the teaching staff explored the theme of “Mesh Morphologies� - a series of studies on how complex systems can be realised using meshes. This works was inspired by the pioneering work of Lars Englund and later by Marc Fornes. The investigations focused on how meshes can be discretized into smaller parts such as components or strips based on their inherent datastructure which can be used to drive both design, performance and fabrication. The complex nature of these studies led to the continuation of the agenda as a part of the 2016 workshop.



AA_AARHUS 2016 The 2016 research agenda continued the 2015 research agenda on rethinking patterns in design and architecture, while investigating the affects of environmental factors such as light through local manipulations of patterns and geometry. These investigations were driven through the use of computational tools and digital fabrication at different scales.

As part of the ongoing research, the Visiting School explored the use of robotic tools and how robotic manufacturing techniques will influence the future of design and fabrication in architecture. The research clusters were dividend into two groups: Mesh Morphologies and Robotic Collaboration.

The first unit (“Mesh Morphologies”) focused on teaching the students how to control and manipulate geometry through the use of feedback loops between the physical and digital models, to test how geometry can be used to sculpt and manipulate light. The second unit (“Robotic Collaboration”) focused on the robotic fabrication paradigm within architecture. It can be thought of as

grafting the car industry onto the building industry. Students worked in groups under each research cluster taking advantage of both physical and digital prototypes in generating novel solutions to traditional design problems.

The images that follow document the output from the 2016 AA_Aarhus Visiting School. This would not have been possible without the help of our sponsors!

Research Cluster 1: Mesh Morphologies

“Væve” Væve is an exploration of an old technique through new technology. It is an investigation into methodologies, form and assembly techniques that combine the art of weaving with computational design and digital fabrication. This methodology has a variety of potential applications due to its physical and aesthetic qualities, from industrial design to large scale structures. For example, there is the potential to reduce the number of fixing points when compared to more conventional structures. The weave structure is generated in Grasshopper and Rhino, digitally fabricated and assembled by hand. A series of prototypes of increasing complexity were constructed to test the constraints and possibilities of the methodology; an important part of the process was the development of an assembly strategy,

as it was discovered that the selection of the correct point of commencement is key.

The shape of the piece is a ‘batwing’, which is a triply periodic minimal surface – a continuous anticlastic form that offers sufficient stiffness to be self-supporting, while highlighting the play of pattern, light and shadow. •

Rivets = 200 per piece

PVC = 4.7m2

Construction time = 14hrs per piece

“Riveting Mesh� The object has been developed by decomposing a cube and exerting an internal pressure on the geometry, through a computational physics engine. The applied pressure is necessary to ensure a high curvature to ensure structural integrity of the object. The object was made as a mesh, and made into diagonal strips. The mesh was unrolled and a stripped morphology was produced. Utilizing a computer numeric controlled (CNC) knife cutter, strips of the geometry were cut from thin sheets of plastic and assembled affording a geometry that crossed the threshold from the digital to the physical realm. During the process we tested numerous geometries by building several models, designing patterns and joinery, and smoothing the curves to find an organic shape.

“Low-Poly Minimal Surface” The motivation for our geometry comes from two sources: an interest in forming a complex, resolved geometry from a simple, low polygon mesh as an initial unit, and an interest in using external data in order to influence the geometry of our mesh object: • As initial geometry Schoens F-RD Surface creates the Unit Cell, which we reflect once upwards. • An interpretation of the exhibition space windows as light planes in Rhino is used to transform the mesh geometry.

The final design, is made by subdividing a mesh is that consists of a repeating base unit(low polygon tetrahedron mesh), mirrored and rotated through a series of steps. The transformed mesh was relaxed using a computational physics engine, finally the mesh was then put through a light analysis, using two light planes. The light values were used to create gradients and deconstruct the mesh into strips whose diameter varies based on a scale of values derived from the light analysis.

“Zipped Compression Pavilion� In the desire to design a pavilion, the source of inspiration was found in the work by Frei Otto, The Block Research Group, TheVeryMany and Foster + Partners. The goal was to create a self-supporting shell, digitally generated by simulating gravity forces. To avoid using any tension cables or a fix baseplate, we went through various test models, both digital and physical, to come up with a triangulated truss geometry to provide surface tension and strength.

Research Cluster 2: Robotic Collaboration

Robotic Fabrication Logic By utilizing repetitive advantages of robotic fabrication and the dimensionality of the components, we envision producing many parts concurrently. Profiles will be cut from large blocks of material and subsequently sliced to the proper thickness


Trans[foam]ed is a rule-based module aggregation where specific predefined local design decisions set up a path toward a certain global structural evolution. Trans[foam]ed is built using two dimensional interlocking components. The profiles of the components are informed by a hexagonal patterning and three dimensional cell packing. Components are

assembled into modules which can ben added and subtracted from the structure, which makes for an interactive evolving spatial piece. People were encouraged to add and remove modules to alter the structure for their specific needs (sun shading, seclusion, etc.) or just for fun.

“Mo[bius] Fo[am]” With robotic fabrication being the testing ground of the workshop, a design was created, which tests the limitations and constrains of such kind of production. Wanting to test the ability of the fabrication method, it was chosen to work with the complex geometry of the Mobius strip, it was chosen to split it into three strips. Each

expanding foam

strip was further split into components – unique building blocks, that connect to one another in order to form a continuous strip. The technique is theoretically applicable to any shape, which builds upon the initial shape of an extruded curve.

eps board


mdf connector

“HEX VAULT� HEX VAULT seeks to explore the advantage of the mass customisation that robotic fabrication allows. Each of the 308 blocks that compose HEX VAULT is entirely unique but able to be fabricated with the same computer code. The individuality of each cell allows for gradient of aperture size and surface texture, without detracting from the efficiency of the fabrication process. HEX VAULT is designed to frame views to surrounding points of interest from DOKK1: Universitetsparken, Isbjerget, and Lystbadehavnen to the north; Jelshoj to the south. It purposefully opens up toward the east to act as a threshold towards the Aarhus Bugt.

“2016 Pavilion” For the 2016 iteration of the AA_Aarhus Visiting School, we were lucky enough to get financial support from the AP Møller foundation. This enabled us to buy material for the students as well as the teaching staff in testing novel geometrical formations. This led to the development of a pavilion proposal (above image). The design was engineered by AKT II. Before we started to build the pavilion, we did a series of material tests, which lead us to believe that we would have to alter the geometry (image on the next page) in order to reach structural integrity.

The development and fabrication of the pavilion took approximately 2 days, due to the fabrication facilities available at the school of architecture in Aarhus. Unfortunately we made a miscalculation of how many connections was needed to ensure structural integrity for the pavilion, due to the fast pace of the design and fabrication process. The goal was to have a very smooth surface like img XX, but because of the lack of connections we had areas of the surface look more like that of img XXX. Unfortunately this lead to global failure and we therefore haven’t been able to finish the pavilion, yet.

During the workshop we didn’t manage to use all of the material, which means we are working to iron out the last few kinks in the design, and we will then build a couple of study pavilions to ensure that it will work once we are ready to scale it up to 1:1. Something we aim to do in the year 2017. In spite of the pavilion being a failure the learning output has been invaluable both in terms of fabrication techniques and geometry, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of AP Møller.



We were lucky enough to form a collaboration with the Aarhus 2017 group which is located at DOKK1 at the harbour in Aarhus. They allowed us to make our final

exhibition within DOKK1s fantastic venue, where we could show the work and process that took place during the workshop.

“Riveting Mesh”


“Low-Poly Minimal Surface”

“Zipped Compression Pavilion”



“Mo[bius] Fo[am]”



Keynote lecture by Andreas Klok Pedersen of BIG Architects

Lecture by Vlad Tenu on ‘Glimpses of Infinite Symmetry’

Lecture by Dave Reeves of Zaha Hadid Architects

Aa_Aarhus 2016 Documentation Pamphlet  

As part of the Architectural Association's Visiting School Programme, the Aarhus Visiting School focuses on rethinking pattern in design and...

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