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The Institute of Turbulence Geof Bell Fall 2011 | Columbia University GSAPP

The Institute of Turbulence: Fall 2011 | Core Studio I Columbia University GSAPP Critic: Philip Parker These projcts are an investigation of line. The line is the fundamental tool of architecture to define information and ultiamtely to create space. The line divides, but space cannot exist until it is defined by the line. The initial drawings in this project exploit all known characteristics of line to embed the most information possible through drawing; a philosophy of radical inclusion. The line allows a reading of time, texture, structure, boundary, edge, flow, tension, movement and containment; each change contains its own system of smaller changes within. The initial investigation is an attempt to use line and graphic representation to define the changes undergone by a wilting flower; envisioning the embedded information in the trajectories of a flower’s subsystems over time (lines, surfaces, color). The base image that emerges is the transformation and mutation of the structural systems of the plant as they devay. A choreographed system is arranged to which the plant responds: environmental factors (transpiration, evaporation, gravity, time) affect the structural form through (wilting, decay). Through time, areas that are more constant become more apparent; more transient elements (weaker, less structural) of the flower appear lighter and more blurred.

Turbulence: constrained by grid A system of constrained points is placed into the Hudson River. Movements are tracked and recorded. Shows a snapshot-duration in time, of the forces moving along the system... converging and diverging as flows act on the field: Crumpling|Condensing of quantities and intensities of line. Movements within movements: rippling of surface within tidal waves. The use of line through multiplicities of scale allows the simultaneous reading of many different conditions, including time, overall trajectories of wave flow, smaller ripples within waves, the expansion and contraction of aquatic fields, and the underlying grid which constrains movements. Tension between liquid and line creates order. The field is thus epigenetic: both formed by and forming flows.

Constraint Conditions

Water :: Water freedom Water :: Solid constraint

Types of Flows

Oscillation (ripples) Transverse (forceful)

Types of Movements

Boundary :: arrested/contrained expansion/contraction Vector :: translation (push) translation (pull) oscillation Field :: expansion/contraction dissolution

Tension: surface + internal Trajectory lines are perforated to enable pliability in two directions. Degree of perforation varies based on width of line in the two-dimensional drawing. Additional score lines are inscribed into surface: vectors, ripples and grid. This transfer of medium filters the composition as it is translated to the surface: a visual artifact of the liquid dynamics. Lines produce new lines and zones of strength and weakness: reinforced by bending and creasing, reinforced further by the introduction of wire. New tension is created between surface and wire: wire is bent and deformed by surface and wire in turn causes surface to deform.

Tightening: crumple + fracture Projected to the material realm, these lines of strength and weakness are further pushed and pulled, expanding and contracting to create new surface relationships through the resulting crumpling and fracturing of the surface.

iteration 1: creased along grid

iteration 2: creased along trajectory lines

iteration 3 : strengthened and made pliable

iteration 4: reinforced by wire

Sections: revealing affect + effect through line Synergy :: Antagonism Extension :: Contraction Bend :: Crease Fracture :: Crumple Rigid :: Soft These contradictory conditions create tension in, along and through the surface membrane, producing new effects in-between through layered zones and gradient of effect.

Social Forces: zones of speed New York is a city of intense flows of bodies: people, traffic, communication and physical forces. Modulation of line due to social interaction across the site. Specifically studying “zones of slow,� the line is widened where movements decelerate, leaving a greater imprint in the site. Certain qualities of line emerge based on activity: play, commute, romance, relaxation, exercise... As regions combine and overlap, they produce new relationships. Sometimes, one activity will win out; it is difficult to take a quiet stroll in the run/bike path. Sometimes, the zones will merge and act in synergy; the park combines many activities into one space of social interaction.

children jumping rope

person bicycling along path

couple exchanging gifts

two people meet and walk together


pedestrian trajectories vehicular trajectories bicycle trajectories structural trajectories

Defining Program: fracturing + collision Four types of bodies: Human (eye, hand, foot) Plants (seed, plant, food) Water (drinking, hydroponic, waste) Information (idea, knowledge, data) The operative conditions modulate and redefine program through interaction with these bodies. The movement of bodies works as a force that interacts with (pushes against, is deformed by) surfaces. These bodies are the medium through which knowledge is generated and disseminated throughout the apparatus.

The Drawings: envisioning information through line A constant throughout the drawings is the activation and modulation of line through width. In the water drawing this delineates time. In the Site, lines accumulate and gain width as bodies slow, and this idea is brought forward into sections and plans. This accumulation of activated lines then begins to fill and activate the architectural space that it occupies, illustrating zones of slower “mixing� and the accumulation and multiplication of knowledge.

section a-b


section c-d

section d-e

section e

Partial Systematization: more than “plugged in” When these forces collide, it creates a type of turbulence locally and resonating throughout the system. The apparatus is constructed through an aggregation of the modulated surfaces to be acted on through site, program and user. Through the concept of Partial Systematization, surfaces merge and expand out, creating individual nodes that branch out from a single form. Five Steps to Construct an Apparatus: 1. “Play” surface along lines: crease to reinforce strengths and weaknesses. 2. Insert wires along creased lines to further reinforce strengths of membrane. 3. Find areas of overlap between surfaces and use wires to reinforce overlaps (synergies). 4. Begin to tighten wires along resulting nodes. Repeat. 5. By pulling and relaxing individual wires, modulate apparatus in response to site and program.

independent surfaces

surfaces layered and tightened

Beneficial Turbulence: zones of slow Q: What is the Institute? A: The Institute is an apparatus to create beneficial turbulences within the site that compress zones of movement of bodies, creating new social interactions, supporting and supported by, certain types of knowledge, blending bodies of people, plants, water and knowledge in ways that enhance both individual and collective. The arms or nodes that branch out from the mass act as inputs and outputs for the system. Here sunlight is brought in to facilitate the growth of plants, and the knowledge that they generate through scientific study; by penetrating the pedestrian zones of the site, the nodes bring in human activity that receives, carries and transmits that knowledge; by filtering and treating water from the Hudson River they support the activity of the institute.

The Institute: surfaces activated and communicative The manipulation and overlay of surfaces defines the boundaries of space, modulating the flows of bodies. When these forces collide, it creates turbulence, leading to new spatial and social phenomena between these bodies, of accumulation, compressions, unique juxtapositions, which in turn create constantly new and complex urban social realities. It is the hypothesis and proposition of this project that the collision of these forces within the institution with the knowledge created within the institution and brought to it from without, will cause an amplification of the bodies of knowledge carried by the people that visit and interact with the institute. The surfaces are made active by the users; through bending and creasing, extension and contraction of space, rigidness and softness, fracturing and crumpling, the forces of circulation within the institute are manipulated to create constantly shifting social conditions.

ground level plan

upper level plan

The Model: material parametric The model primarily demonstrates the partial systematization of the institutes surfaces and spaces. The “nodes” that extend from the main mass begin in a “wrapped” or condensed, contracted condition and expand out as a surface to become layered with the neighboring surfaces. The surfaces fracture and interweave with the others. Conceptually, and programmatically, this demonstrates the generation and input of knowledge within the nodes, which is drawn into the system to be disseminated throughout the institution.

The surface conditions operate at multiple scales, with the paper model blending wall, floor and ceiling, and lines on the surface operating im multiple ways. Holes perforated into the surface, for example, become pods for hydroponic growth, plantings within floors, and permeable ground surfaces in the public spaces.

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Core Studio I Critic: Philip Parker more projects:

Institute of Turbulence  

Core Studio I Columbia University GSAPP

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