Air Journal: Oskar Rosa 759771
Table of contents: Introduction
Part A: Conceptualisation
A.1 Design Futuring
A.2 Computational Design
A.5 Learning Outcomes
A.6 Appendix - Algorithmic Sketches
Iâ€™m Oskar, currently in my third year of the Bachelor of Environments with a major in architecture. My architectural focus so far has been on creating dynamic spaces that change their presence on and their disruption of site. I like to iterate my approaches in order to provide a flow of these conditions. Up until now my digital design experience has been limited. I have not been exposed to the theories of digital and my exposure to projects involves only the very big names such as Zaha Hadid and Reiser + Umemoto. I have experimented with the ladybug and honeybee plugins for grasshopper for environmental performance analysis but so far I have not used any digital tools for design work. 4
Previous Work Johnnyâ€™s Cage: This project was about providing different interactions between people, the architectural envelope, and the context and interior enclosure. The diagram shows those differering moments of interior enclosure and their relationship between the envelope (white surrounds) and punctures through that envelope to the greater site (red). The project sought to show a flow of this interactions from simple and direct to something more confused and broken down. Where the occupant could read those ideas through their physical progression.
Part A: Conceptualisation
A.1 Design Futuring
‘Undoubtedly, there is a huge gap between urgently needed action and the current and imminent availability of the means to create, globally, the political, social and economic changes that would enable humanity and all it depends upon to be sustained’ ‘Problems cannot be solved unless they are confronted and if they are too be solved it will not be by chance but, as said, by design.’
- Tony Fry
Philippe Block - Armadillo Vault (2016) The Armadillo vault is a freeform, un-reinforced, cutstone vault created by the Block Research group as part of the Beyond Bending exhibition during the La Biennale di Venezia, 2016. The vault sought to to reimagine traditional dry stone construction through contemporary computational design and digital fabrication. Conceptually, structurally and aesthetically the vault is spectacular. Spanning over 15m in multiple directions and covering an area of 75m2 , the stone blocks reach a maximum thickness of only 12cm1. But how does this pavillion hold up when exposed to design futuring as a framework? Conceptually and ideologically the pavilion sits well within 'affirmative design' as defined by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby2. The pavilion shouts, "look what the architect can do!" the pavilion is a spectacle, granted a very impressive one. The pavilion is a physical realisation of a form-finding and optimisation process dubbed the Thrust network analysis developed by Block & Ochsendorf, 2007 and Van Mele et al. 20143. The application of this technology is certainly radical, a free form dry stereotomy with the relative thickness of an eggshell, but it certainly isn't revolutionary or redirective. 10
The pavilion doesn't serve to 'indicate the error of following existing pathways of thought and action4', the technology employed has allowed the designer to merge two existing traditional pathways, those of stereotomy and free-form geometry. These are both of and for the profession of architecture. Architecture has a long tradition of looking back upon itself for inspiration and the use of this new technology has allowed for the revitalisation of a historical and outdated technique. Design futuring calls for historical defuturing knowledge to be discarded, it calls for 'new design roles, contexts and methods5.' This pavilion is a statement, but that of a traditional architecture within our futuring framework. The voussoirs themselves are about as thin as the material will allow6 making this pavilion an example of the extreme edge of this traditional architecture, the apex of stereotomy. However the pavilion provides only another traditional defuturing precedent for future explorations. The choice of a non-renewable material that must be quarried, cut into over 300 unique blocks. The choice of a historical building technique that requires construction of two structures - the formwork and the stone pavilion - one of which becomes waste.
Even the concept of free-form geometry applied in this context, one of individuality and uniqueness reminds us of the hand of the architect, of an 'architectural geometry'. For a futuring design 'The value of what one knows and does may have to be fundamentally altered7,' an architecture of the future can no longer be about the architectural expression of the architect. Expression must be developed through new channels. This pavilion is an example of cutting edge traditional architecture, but traditional architecture nonetheless. Its innovations only applied to historical methods and materials pushing out any opportunity for futuring explorations. Fig. 2
ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17 The Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) in their 2016-17 research pavilion set out to explore the potentials of natural construction methods of long span fibre composite structures. This pavilion is conceptually the epitome of futuring design. It turns away from historically architectural precedents and instead turns to other disciplines to inform materiality, structure and construction. The designers sought to create a totally new architectural problem free from architectural history. How can architects create and scale a new structural typology of long span fibre to the architectural? In collaboration with the Department of Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates, and the Department of Palaeontology of Invertebrates at the University of Tuebingen the pavilion looked towards moth larvae who spin silk hammocks between the edges of a bent leaf to begin to develop this new typology. Bio analysis of this caterpillar informed the form and directionality of the wound fibres and frame.
With this gesture the architect - as the profession stands today - has been made redundant, the architects identity has been 'radically and structurally changed8.' The designers job has become one of adaptation. How can the architect adapt these forms and processes to that of an architectural scale? This pavilion's form is inherently rediretive, in the sense that 'it is not consensual, it is participatory9.' The form was the answer to the designers structural problem, they did not develop the form via an abstract or functional process as traditional architecture does, it was given to them, and they consented to its use. The autonomy of fabrication has also acted to distance the architect from their traditional architectural roles. The architect no longer the exact construction detailing, the architects job is now one of building frameworks. Of compiling information from anywhere relevant and adapting and scaling this into a framework for the architectural that further systems can adopt to produce architecture. Fig. 4
Materially the pavilion takes its cues from the automotive and aerospace engineering industries, employing glass and carbon fibre-reinforced composite materials around a polymer frame. The use of fibres and the goal of a long span brought about new challenges for fabrication. Spatial qualities and span size of fibre construction has until now been limited by the size of the robotic arms employed to fabricate such spaces. The pavilion developed the use of a drone that could act as a bridge between multiple robotic arms allowing for the extension of span beyond the reach of the singular robot. A communication system between the robots and the drone allowed for each member to react to changing circumstances during fabrication of the pavilion. This system provided the construction workers - the drone and robots - to become autonomous during fabrication.
This pavilion has many future possibilities, it has shown the way towards a realisation of a futuring architecture. A democratic architecture that is multidisciplinary and free of the constraints and defuturing nature of a traditional architecture. This notion offers us the end of architectural style. Aesthetics now becomes a result of the processes of futuring design, and not the driver of form and planning generation. The designers of this pavilion did not set out to design an aesthetic object, they designed a framework, a system that produced the object and its inevitable aesthetics.
References 1. Menges. A & Sheil. B & Glynn. R & Skavara. M (2017), Fabricate: Rethinking design and construction (UCL Press) pp 286-297 2. Dunne, Anthony & Raby, Fiona (2013) Speculative Everything: Design Fiction, and Social Dreaming (MIT Press) pp 34 3. Menges & Sheil & Glynn & Skavara (2017), Fabricate, pp 286-297 4. Fry, Tony (2008). Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice (Oxford: Berg), pp 5. Dunne & Raby(2013) Speculative Everything pp 6. Rippmann M., Van Mele T., Popescu M., Augustynowicz E., MĂŠndez Echenagucia T., Calvo Barentin C., Frick U. and Block P.The Armadillo Vault: Computational design and digital fabrication of a freeform stone shell,Advances in Architectural Geometry 2016,: 344-363,2016 (September). pp, 349 7. Fry, (2008). Design Futuring: Sustainability, pp 8.Fry, (2008). Design Futuring: Sustainability, pp 9. Fry, (2008). Design Futuring: Sustainability, pp
List of Figures
Fig. 1 Iwan Baan (2016), retrieved from: http://www.block.arch.ethz.ch/brg/project/armadillo-vault-venice-italy Fig.2 David Escobedo (2016), retrieved from: http://www.block.arch.ethz.ch/brg/project/armadillo-vault-venice-italy Fig.3 Anna Maragkoudaki (2016), retrieved from: http://www.block.arch.ethz.ch/brg/project/armadillo-vault-venice-italy Fig.4 Roland Halbe (2016), retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=18905 Fig.5 ICD/ITKE (2016), retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=18905 Fig.6 ICD/ITKE (2016), retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=18905 (edited by author)
A.2 Design Computation
Sergio Musmeci: Ponte sul Basento The use of analogue computational models by Fry Otto in 1950’s drastically changed how architectural form could be conceived. Form was now being computed rather than designed and these models allowed for geometry to be stripped back to its structural necessity. This had great influence over the field of lightweight architecture. Sergio Musmeci in his Ponte sul Basento employed soap film models and mathematical computation through the Laplace equation as a way of generating isotropically stressed minimal surfaces1. With these generational techniques Musmeci’s “formation preceded form” where formal design was informed by structural algorithms2. Form was always considered as the unknown that was to be found through this computation. Rather than the traditional movement of form to structure. Architectural design and conception were moving away from representative and towards a performative design - In this particular case that of optimal structural performance - a design that was expanding traditional structural language from the beam, column, arch, vault to something more free-form and archiecturally expressive in nature.
Unfortunately Musmeci was restricted by the technologies of his day. Analogue computation is restricted to a linear workflow of processes. Musmeci’s workflow of model to analyses to model and so on didn’t allow for easy revisiting of earlier stages if outcomes were undesirable. Once parameters in analogue computational models are set they are not easily changed. In the case of the soap film models this would mean building ad re-analysing a whole new model. Digital computation in lightweight architecture doesn’t move much further past analogue computation in terms of its outlook. Digital computation drastically updates the workflow of analogue computation but not its object of effect, the surface. With digital computation the surface can be more easily analysed allowing for more structurally complex surfaces to be generated and conceived. Digital computations closed ties to fabrication has also allowed for a much easier realisation of complex surfaces.
Sean Ahlquist and Julian Lienhard: Textile Hybrid M1 The next stage in the development of a lightweight computational architecture was the delocalisation of computation from the structurally optimal surface to include a topological and material computation. In Musmeci’s bridge the topology wa simple with only two elements with two distinct roles and materiality was considered as an outcome of form. Complex double curved surfaces like those of Musmeci’s bridge had limited modes and materials of realisation in his time. The Textile Hybrid M1 applies this delocalised computation to create a canopy composed of glass-fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) rods, structurally integrated with Polyester PVC membranes and Polyamide based textiles3. Form-finding of the canopy started with the material computation of bending-active spring systems that utilise the material properties of the GFRP rods. These systems are organised at different scales to produce varying structural and spatial qualities. The combination of physical prototyping models and the use of digital models allowed for quick feedback and translation from digital to physical to digital and back again. 20
This structure is an example of the cultural shift in avant-garde digital architecture towards a greater focus on material tectonics. This suggests a new view on our constructed systems. With material computation, the focus is on the natural properties of that material and how we can harness them for performative gain. Natural typologies provide boundless precedents for new structural systems and with the aid of computation we have the ability for detailed analyses and then reimagining of these natural precedents. In this sense we are no longer creating artificial structural typologies but rather “a second nature, or a sounder architecture with respect to material ecology4.” We are now able to design more naturally, whereas traditional architecture has mimicked nature we can now understand the architecture in nature and begin to design more effectively with materials and contexts.
References 1. Cruz. P J S, Structures and Architecture: New concepts applications and challenges, (London, Taylor and Francis Group, 2013) pp 545 2. Oxman. R and Oxman. R, eds (2014). Theories of the Digital in Architecture (London; New York: Routledge) pp 3 3. Ahlquist, Sean & Lienhard, Julian. (2013). Physical and Numerical Prototyping for Integrated Bending and Form-Active Textile Hybrid Structures 4. Oxman. R and Oxman. R, eds (2014). Theories of the Digital in Architecture (London; New York: Routledge) pp 6
List of Figures
Fig. 1 S. Musmeci, Soap Film Study Model (1996), retrieved from: https://medium.com/designscience/1976-57636ff1f122 Fig.2 A. Tedeschi (2011), retrieved from: http://www.arturotedeschi.com/wordpress/?p=2251 Fig.3 ICD, Completed M1 structure with top membrane, bottom mesh and internal cell structure, (date unknown), retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=7799 Fig.4/5 ICD, Form-finding studies of bending and topology logics for individual cells and association between multiple cells, (date unknown) retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=7799 Fig.6 ICD, Completed textile-hybrid self-structured cell system , (date unknown), retrieved from: http:// icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=7799
The shift from composition to generation in architecture represents a fundamental shift in the modes of producing architecture. Traditionally architectural composition is informed by the conventions of drawing composition. With the introduction of digital drawing mediums the architects skill and accuracy was drastically augmented however they still remained constrained by the limitations of drawing itself. The shift to generative design saw the shift of the mode of architecture away from the drawing and toward the constructing of frameworks, or algorithms. Algorithmic thought did more than just improve the skill of the architect, it augmented the intellect of the designer by interfacing them with the computer1, as well as fundamentally changing their roles. Designers now adopted an interpretive role2 of influences and outputs in order to build comprehensive frameworks that could direct the generative focus of the computer. But how did architecture respond to this change? Theoretically generative design fell outside the scope of academic rationalisations of form and composition3. These theories were the slave of drawn architecture and the radically different approach of generative design rendered them redundant. Take for example Corbusierâ€™s Modular Man, a theory of proportion based on the human scale. Generative design looks beyond the scope of arguably arbitrarily dictated proportion. An algorithm can now synthesis desired performance, structure, material properties into an optimal proportion. The designer can now utilise more than just drawn comparisons.
This shift has also moved avant-garde architecture into the academic and digital realm and away from practice. This architecture is now coming out of universities as can be seen in the chosen precedents analysed in this paper so far. At the same time this form of architecture also sits within the digital realm and the digital community where there is a big focus on sharing of knowledge and techniques and improving and expanding that knowledge. Avant-garde architecture is as much about redesigning the environment of design and observing its effect on the outcome of design4. And with the digital sharing community almost anyone can contribute to this rebuilding of design culture, expanding it at a pace never seen before. This unfortunately means that the uptake of generative design has been slow and in many cases rejected as academic explorations that donâ€™t mean much for the practice of architecture itself.
Sean Ahlquist: Textile Morphologies
In this exhibition of works, Sean Ahlquist shows a selection of textile prototypes as developed during his ongoing doctoral work. These prototypes, developed through analysis of material structural properties aim to push forward this typology and the use of textiles in the architectural industry. However this exhibition strips this research of its tectonic goals, and shows them as aesthetic experimentations. Computational design has been strongly caught up in aesthetics. With the freedom of almost infinite iterations of form, critics of computational design believe that it is stagnating and trivialising architecture. In this sense computational design â€˜lock[s] the discipline into endless loops of aesthetic experimentation5.â€™ Computational design in this sense is only about aesthetics, these aesthetics are born of highly revolutionary techniques, like those of material computation, but still formally driven by their formal outcome.
In the case of Textile Morphologies it is an exhibition of what we currently know and can do, which has ultimately resulted in simply a new aesthetic. It is very much a prototyping exhibition, with the technology in its infancy. However it will remain an aesthetic experimentation unless this technology can progress beyond basic spatial devices such as canopies and installations. But that is the excitement of computational lightweight design in this era. New tectonics are on the point of do or die, where they can progress to usable architectural forms, or simple stay aesthetic explorations.
ZCB Bamboo Pavilion: Chinese University of Hong Kong The ZCB Bamboo pavilion is an example of a generative piece of architecture that does not fall victim to the aesthetic trap. Formally it is reminiscent of Heinz Islerâ€™s B.P Station in Deitingen and the simple gridshell catenary forms that have been around since Frei Otto in the 70â€™s. What makes this pavilion a positive step for generative design is its use of materiality and its melding of traditional construction and computational design. Bamboo is a strong, light and environmentally friendly natural material that has been largely under utilised in the architectural industry thus far. The pavilion sought to use the natural bending properties of the bamboo as a generative parameter through digital physics simulations and small and large scale physical prototyping. The challenge for this pavilion was to merge precise digital techniques with the widely varied natural bamboo. To do this the designers looked to traditional cantonese bamboo scaffolding techniques and crafts people, using traditional cantonese tying methods to join the individual bamboo poles6. 28
This appropriation and amalgamation of computational methods with traditional techniques and contextual materiality provides precedent for a more universal computational architecture. Computational and generative architecture is viewed by many as the death of the construction industry with a large amount of research in this field going into automated construction techniques. What this pavilion does is show how digital generative design can not only utilise but update these traditional fields of construction to produce something new and contextually appropriate.
References 1. Peters, Brady. (2013) ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp 10 2. Peters. (2013) ‘Computation Works,’ Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp 10 3. Andia, Alfredo (2002) ‘Reconstructing the Effects of Computers on Practice and Education during the past Three Decades’. Journal of Architectural Education, 56, 2, pp 10 4. Brady. (2013) ‘Computation Works,’ Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp 10 5. Andia, (2002) ‘Reconstructing the Effects of Computers on Practice and Education during the past Three Decades’. Journal of Architectural Education, 56, 2, pp 8 6. Crolla K. and Fingrut. N (2016) ‘Protocol Error: Th design and construction of a bending-active gridshell from natural bamboo’ Living Systems and Micro-Utopias: Towards continuous designing, proceedings of the 21st international conference of the association for computer-aided architectural design research in Asia CAADRIA), Hong Kong
List of Figures
Fig. 1 ICD, Hyper-Toroidal Deep Surface (date unknown) retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart. de/?p=8893 Fig.2 ICD, Cylindrical Mesh Tompologies (date unknown) retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=8893 Fig.3 ICD, Toroidal Textile Hybrid (date unknow). retrieved from: http://icd.uni-stuttgart.de/?p=8893 Fig.4 CUHK, (date unknown) retrieved from: http://www.arch.cuhk.edu.hk/research/research-projects/zcb- bamboo-pavilion-prof-kristof-crolla-prof-adam-fingrut/ Fig.5 CUHK, (date unknown) retrieved from: http://www.arch.cuhk.edu.hk/research/research-projects/zcb- bamboo-pavilion-prof-kristof-crolla-prof-adam-fingrut/ Fig.6 CUHK, (date unknown) retrieved from: http://www.arch.cuhk.edu.hk/research/research-projects/zcb- bamboo-pavilion-prof-kristof-crolla-prof-adam-fingrut/
A.4 Conclusion Lightweight architecture has, since itâ€™s beginnings with Frei Otto in the 70â€™s been tied up with computation in design. From analogue to material, lightweight architecture has exploited the forms and structural properties of materials available through computation. The goals of lightweight architecture are unsurprisingly to reduce the weight of structures, this notion has a foot in the framework of design futuring with the overall goal to create an architecture that is less material intensive. This typology helps to redefine the architectural profession by blurring the lines between architect and engineer and by defining a new workflow based on structural properties of materials and forms.
I intend to explore the field of bending-active hybrid textile structures. I believe this typology is a chance to move away from architectural statisicm and permanence and towards something adaptable and contextual. An architecture that can change its form to suit different sites, seasons and purposes and that has minimal impact on site. I believe this will benefit a larger scope of people, not necessarily at the same time but its adaptability will allow it to morph its benefits to its specific current context.
A.4 Learning Outcomes Since the start of the semester my knowledge in terms of the theory of digital and computational design has drastically increased. I now think that computational architecture can be a very powerful tool for totally changing the profession that Iâ€™m currently studying to become involved in. And I believe this shift is necessary to begin to solve many of the problems that we have created for ourselves, such as our reliance on concrete as a construction material.
I think this learning has shown that there is another way to design architecture and another way of conceiving architecture altogether. Applying these frameworks to any of my previous designs would render them in my opinion a step in the wrong direction. They sit well within affirmative design and instead of pushing the boundaries of theory and design they fold back in on architecture and express design outcomes and rationalisations that are of and for architecture.
A.6 Appendix - Algorithmic Sketches
These sketches show my explorations with transformation functions and the physics plug-in Kangaroo2. The transformation explorations show a new way of exploring form and geometry. Forms were defined by how they were transformed by a previous iteration with new links interacting with previous outcomes to create an entirely new form. They demonstrate the idea of architect as designer of frameworks and the computer as generator of form The kangaroo explorations are a step into structural generation. Where form is defined by structural and physical properties. This concept is very important for the field of lightweight architecture which has always utilised structural computation.
Kangaroo: catenary forms
Published on Mar 6, 2018