Socially, aesthetically and ‘comfortably,’ my favourite no doubt was Portugal, and to an extent Morocco. Islamic architecture does a lot more than I assumed in capturing the intricate mathematics of fractals in both three, and twodimensional design. The austere and history-drenched cities of Porto and Lisbon proved to present more than just a visually relaxing backdrop for a pleasant culture. The way Baroque churches intertwine with the narrow alleyways, the rickety tram that exposes intricate facades of hidden gems and the best modern designs I have seen anywhere in the world on the outskirts of town, perhaps signifying a new modernity, a new then-emerging lifestyle were amazing to consider in a more multi-disciplinary aspect. The buildings were not just pieces of art, they seemed to blend and support the society they housed. There was a distinct dialogue with the built environment and the social, one that goes beyond the physical. It made me realise that perhaps there is just more than size, symmetry and placement of city squares to appreciate. Their value as working social spaces and the effectiveness of their utilization was remarkable, in my opinion much better than most in Australia. Simply speaking, my particular favourites in that country were Viera Siza’s modern houses and one particular museum he designed in Porto. My ventures then lead me to Cambodia to volunteer for a friend from a poor rural village. To consider what I witnessed and how I lived for three weeks so separated from civilisation as I know it, with an architectural discourse point of view, is truly beautiful. Though I have always loved the austere and vernacular, my stay in timber bungalows hours away from any metropolis or building services once again opened my eyes to the way we can live in different environments. True the architecture there hasn’t changed for centuries but it made me appreciate the value of passive ventilation, materials appropriate to the environment and how the architecture reflects the people and the culture of the area. The dialogue between the timber huts and the surrounding rice fields were perfect.
years. Though I have primarily used the software for photo adjustment and manipulation, I’m intrigued in its capability for rendering, page layout and effective presentation. This year my fear of mastering Illustrator and InDesign are greater than ever with my love for an Adobe program wholly monogamous. But these are hurdles I’m still eager to conquer. My first battle was installing InDesign, followed by hours of searching the Internet for an additional program to change the language from Greek to English. Now my problems lie in enabling shortcuts, allowing layered images to actually fill the page and utilising page guides rather than get frustrated at their stubbornness (or my ignorance).
How to start a journal? I will never know… Ideas about architecture started for me in the heart of Adelaide suburbia. The idea of developing a vacant lot of land into a dream family home, equipped with self-maintained kitchen, power guzzling appliances and poorer quality design and construction than any fast food outlet is no less prominent than in what kids colloquially call the ‘urbs’ of that city. And so growing up in a state that experiences some of the worst heat waves and cold spells of the country once motivated me to think “what is wrong with this house, with this socially acceptable standard of living, with this neighbourhood?” And following a continuum of falling in love with art, design (initially industrial design) and sustainability the beginning of my academic life, I fell into the lap of Melbourne University’s Bachelor of Environments. More recently my motifs for completing this course have changed, though many of these priming elements remain prominent in the completion of my final subjects. Personally I’m becoming more interested in austere, vernacular architecture with its associated benefit of ultimate sustainability and relationship to surrounding environment. Naturally contemporary design still has a lot to offer architecture as a discipline, with many benefits to social, aesthetic and economic realms…but my interests remain design and self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, albeit some personal projects and sketches my architectural experience is limited to the minimal design work set out during this undergraduate course. Many of the theoretical subjects have been truly interesting, but the requirements for researched and developed design have been lacking in my opinion. Consequently between Year 12 Design, Designing Environments and Architecture Design Studio 2 I feel I have learnt the most basic of terminology, methods and skills to design to a reasonable standard. Nevertheless I try my best to sketch as fluidly (sometimes archaically) as I can, and intend to learn the necessary programs to excel in this digital age. I do however have a confidence in navigating certain applications. I’ve played around on Google SketchUp to an extent (soon realising its restrictions in exploring design possibilities) and have been an avid user in Photoshop for the past several
So realistically any evidence of my participating in architectural design relies on an assignment based in the style of Le Corbusier in ADS2. I focussed on several stylistic features prevalent in his work, particularly the use of horizontality to add to his idea of the open façade. Similarly people movement, the filtration of natural light and a geometrically focussed three-dimensional façade were taken into consideration. The project was completed by hand with cardboard and SketchUp models. As far as digital design is concerned, my experience ends there. I feel overwhelmingly lucky that I have had the experience to travel, and study abroad during, and before my university course. My first time experiencing a solo trip overseas, in 2009, broadened my horizons, and exceeded my already grand expectation of art, design and architecture of Central Western and Eastern Europe, particularly the presence of Renaissance, Gothic and quality Modernist styles. Similarly intriguing, design, and the art I only remember from primary school text books was amazing to witness firsthand, to say the least. My second trip in early 2012 was perhaps even more remarkable. Though once again I did spend most of my time in Paris in the Pompidou Centre, and my spectacular experience of Stalin’s Seven Sisters predominantly occurred whilst wandering the streets at night, I was nevertheless amazed at what creativity and perhaps an influence of dictatorship can create within the built realm. University in Stuttgart opened my eyes to the productivity of the modern age, and perhaps what digital and mechanical technology can create too.
Alvero Siza Vieira’s 1997 Museum of Contemporary Art “The large doors and partition walls between exhibition rooms can be used to create different routes and separate exhibition spaces”(AlvaroSizaVieira.com, 2012). Not only is this a practical design element within a museum space, perhaps even a standard in most exhibition spaces, it is one feature of Siza Vieira’s modernist typology. Modernism is almost a century old, yet the architect still makes a point of manipulating the built environment to cater to contemporary ideals, uses and standards. As the apses of gothic cathedrals were used to permanently house sacred relics and museum spaces owned by the rich for safekeeping of decorative arts during the renaissance, the paradigm of exhibition space has greatly shifted, and continues to do so in the 20th and 21st centuries. Siza Vieira responds to this transcendence creating spaces of variable size. Like the Tate Modern in London once commissioned a small house within the gallery, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris showcases upcoming, often utterly pretentious large instillations, a gallery in the small town of Porto can now similarly compete on the world stage for showcasing a variety of mediums of modern, and even classical art. At the time of my visit a retrospective exhibition of a prominent graphic and cartoon artist was exhibited in one of the main halls. Though this didn’t particularly appeal to me at the time, the rooms were set up with images and digital media on the walls as well as a zigzag of temporary partition walls. Personally it felt that this added surface area crowded the space a little, but in retrospect the geometry of the zigzag adapted perfectly to the surrounding environment. Not only did it stylistically ‘work’ with the jagged and irregularly angled walls of the permanent structure, but also interacted with the art itself. The artist exhibited used many geometric patterns, shapes and overlays as subtle features in his work, and the ability to re-arrange the room in accordance with the architect’s preconceptions of a ‘new modernity’ meant this was a perfect place to exhibit. Though this is one small element within a big (physically and conceptually) building, for me it signifies the architect’s realism of projecting into the future, understanding how the building responds to the brief now, but also in years to come. Locally, the building perfectly resembles modern planning and beautifully displays art. On a greater scale, it’s nestling within a large almost national park type garden signifies the rise of modernism in the middle class suburbs. It presents a stark contrast between the built environment and the natural. The towering white walls almost seem like a mirage when viewed from the beautiful rose, lily and plant garden (immediate surroundings). It’s a landscape that appeals to the senses and presents a new style of living and architecture that many architects attempt to achieve, but unfortunately fail. (I say this in regards for our ideals of modernity, having clean contemporary houses that resemble what we as individuals and society strive for, whether it be a sense of security, shelter, freedom, display of status etc.)
Similarly, my visit to Porto also lead to Siza Vieira’s first built house, the Boa Nova Tea House. Though physically different to his later museum, the small house presented something interesting to the seaside landscape not far from Porto. Still a stand-alone building, it blends into the rocky landscape, creating a dialogue between the nearby urban environment and Portuguese coastline. Remarkably the building is still designed and constructed in complete modernist style, but a tension that could of existed between white sheets of concrete and white sand has been cleverly dulled. Instead the building stands as an icon for innovative design within a fragile landscape. It was one of the first houses in an up-and-coming outer-suburb and introduced Siza Vieira’s principles of modernity into the region. Now the area resembles a reasonably typical gentrified neighbourhood, but an element of quality and intrigue remains. Rather than tea houses, mid and high rise apartments spot the beach neighbourhood, but in a style I rarely saw in other areas around the country. I can’t help but think that Siza Vieira had some influence in this typology around the area. The legacy still remains, though the teahouse was perfectly secluded amongst the giant rocks. Probably more recently the simple esplanade leading to the building has been developed and adds to the interaction between public, house and beach. And so in terms of the architecture of Siza Vieira, the discourse of the building does go beyonf the immediate site of the physical building. The buildings are important locally, nationally and theoretically.
Dynamic Architecture; From Dangar Reinhardt’s Prosthetic Surfaces: Design Model for a Dynamic Architecture When I consider the term Dynamic Architecture, I inherently think of moving structures, skins and limbs of building responding to constantly changing exterior conditions. Floors of an unidentifiable volumetric mass rotating independently of one another due to varying winds at different heights along the vertical axis of a building, perhaps in conjunction with varying levels of friction acting on these floors. But realistically, how to do we model this motion? What if a wind is too strong, or too erratic, and can defect the integrity of the building? Computer modelling can be the solution, and an incredible aid in understanding the changing form of a building due to external conditions. Design is infinitely variable whilst in a 2 dimensional digital realm, but when extracted into the third dimension, structural technicalities limit possible movement. Similarly when removed from the digital realm to the built one, problems of conceptualising movement due to elements such as heat, wind etc. become even more apparent… were it not for the magic of dynamic and responsive software. With such programming, we can analyse the effect of environmental conditions, such as sun, heat, wind on a dynamic structure, understanding the capabilities and restrictions of movement. As Reinhardt describes, prosthetic surfaces of a building are likely to ‘respond to’ a number of conditions, but simultaneously undergo a process of modification…an ‘evolution’ as a result of the forces around them. Like most of the organic realm, it seems that these changes will have a random, if not anarchic effect on building skin. However, with appropriate modelling, it would be possible to recreate a set of random conditions, and visualise otherwise inconceivable options. As a building would register changing conditions and react to the dynamic system of an external environment, software could theoretically recreate the effect on a digital version of a building. The paper describes the notion of a ‘Design Model’… the essence of design. In a way we can conceptualise this as the guiding parameters of a design, the essence that remains even after visual or structural transformation of a structure. A crossover between elastic interval and independent is the Design Model in a piece of clothing mentioned in Reinhardt’s article. Structural integrity and dynamic change of form due to wind can be the Design Model of a building. In terms of dynamic architecture, a key element of the Design Model would be interaction. Interaction between user and space, object and weather or light and sound.
The realm of dynamic design can be taken even further. Using the important characteristic of ever-changing form, evolving through various unique shapes, we can consider the impermanence of form as a remarkable stage in the design process. For example, software that continuously manipulates the skin of an object until the point of manufacture will imply that the final outcome is dictated by the chaos of the software, and not a uniform design dictated by designer and machinery. In an industrialised world where all items are unified by manufacturing technique, mass-produced and hence lacking all individuality, developing a software that changes minute, even insignificant elements of an object seconds before manufacture dictates that each item will have at least some element of originality. Depending on the algorithm of the software, it would even be possible to create truly unique patterns, shapes, and volumes. Personally, this seems like a valuable quality to an object owned by millions of others, and more importantly, a revolution in design, and mass production. Theoretically, this idea reflects the shift from digitally dynamic form to a static object.
Dynamic form can be interestingly explored in sensitive environments that require a stable interior climate. For example in this proposed greenhouse, perhaps it would be possible to create a mechanism that rotates plants for optimum exposure to sun, shade and warmth. Light and heat sensors can theoretically be used to inform machinery of scale and form of movement. Image from nextnature.net
Taking into consideration the hard to believe capabilities of current high-powered computers, and their ability to execute high-profile programs to analyse, render and calculate complex functions, it is important to remember the computer as an engineered object, and a tool. Though the machine itself (and software) can often complete tasks the most intelligent, quick-witted, dexteric and theoretical struggle at, it is merely an aid at resolving the issues we as designers, engineers etc. are faced with. It cannot complete an exercise it does not know the formula to, and has a program-solving intelligence limited to the programming capabilities if its designer. As such, as well as being the savour of our generation, I consider the computer not much more complicated, incredible or – respective to human calculation – intelligent than a calculator. However, it is important to remember that despite all the limitations of a CPU and ill-designed software, if we can access the methods of computerization, we can adapt software for personal needs and design-desires. In this respect, the digital and technological realm has infinite benefit. In modifying software to search for, and calculate possible design alternatives, design tools seem to be tending from the computerization (CAD) of design to the actual analytical and ‘thoughtful’ conception. Taking into consideration the ability to analyse a number and variety of quantitative data (possibly extracted from qualitative data), the computer is able to instantaneously suggest a variety of options as design solutions. This is truly an incredible advantage of digital design, with a subsequent benefit on architecture. The reading in week 2 brought up the important notion of communication between individual and computer. Though the sole aim of computerization software is often to represent an imagined concept as a two, or three dimensional graphic for demonstration, to either the designer or design/construction team at a later date, we must also consider the possible and most efficient ways of communicating an idea to the computer. CAD software allows for the input of dimensions and realtime drawing of lines, shapes, volumes but is limited by the mathematics of the software and often ease-of-input of things such as curvilinear equations to create lines and surfaces. Perhaps other mathematical representations such as matrices or vector notations may be used to aid the computerization of an idea, but the design is still often limited to the physical input of data on behalf of the user.
However, as mentioned in the second reading, digital generative processes provide for a shift of emphasis from traditional to somewhat futuristic design methods, from a “making of form, to a finding of form.” Similarly, a generative logic (a logic nonetheless) allows for a flexible and dynamic transformation of form, something an individual would have to work tirelessly for to model manually. The readings also introduced a topic of separation of conception and construction. Traditionally (post craftsman/ stonemason/designer/engineer division) organised and scales drawings were used to model the idea of the designer. Now, with the expansion of digital technology in all the aforementioned fields, 3D Cad, models and building schedules as a part of high-performance software can be used to transmit ideas about the conception and simplify the construction of a structure. The over-all rise of technology, including domestic products such as iPads that can be easily transported to exhibit ideas, faster computers and email to instantly send detailed plans and files all aid in empowering the digital age.
David Fisher›s Twirling Tower represents the epitome of contemporary dynamic design. As well as utilising an aesthetically wonderful design with sustainable consuequences. the building reforms the discourse of architecture. Buildings no longer have to be large, heavy, static forms of mass to remain structurally safe, but contrastingly can adapt to local surrounding for an array of benefits. Image from inhabitat.com
The week’s readings give an interesting insight into the idea of parametric architecture, and particularly the impact of the style within greater architectural discourse. However, as Patrik Schumacher pledges that this style (or perhaps the employment and clever utilisation of new software?) is one to dominate the design realm, his Parametricist Manifesto can perhaps be scrutinised in its onesidedness. Indeed the term manifesto evokes a somewhat negative connotation, especially in a field such as design, which embraces all aesthetic and theoretical principles in their infinite potential and evolution of style. In the first article, from architectcsjournal.co.uk, Patrik mentions that style is an important way architecture is observed and recognised…perhaps one can say even simplified. But it is not merely a matter of appearance, it is a reflection of modern life, both social and personal, of the complex web of systems our post-modernist lifestyle has imposed on us. Globalisation, economic ties and the boom of a computer-based generation are mere points that reflect the world we live in, and are indeed elements of focus for designers. As such, it seems this is where the powerful theoretical and mathematical underlying of parametric architecture can be put to use. Can these abstract concepts be an integral part of design style without high technology? However, following the evolution of style in general, parametrical design does call on other styles to enrich and progress the “coming epoch of parametricism.” Though I think this is a truism, for all design takes information from the past, adapted to the needs of a present to create new form and/or function, it seems Patrik is referring to the conceptual underside of parametricism. Considering his works at ZHA, I find it hard to associate the fluid and sculptured buildings designed with software to the more traditional forms before and during the 20th century. Here, form is temporarily separated from the notion of style. Despite the unfortunate, and sometimes strict, one sidedness of certain arguments concerning parametricism, the term lends itself to a broader vagueness. The important notion of setting up parameters, modelling with an inter-relationship of these small elements to create a greater form is in a way exercised in all design. The term becomes much about interpretation when we consider something like the coming about of the Bauhaus. The early 20th century style was also about A) utilising contemporary technology to B) appeal to the needs (functions) of citizens, subsequently C) reflecting their emergence into a contemporary and modern world. These elements D) dictated a new form that was reflective of greater society. Not to mention that many of the aesthetic and design principles were set up by the (parameters) of the Bauhaus school. In understanding and considering the technical interpretations and associations of the terms style, parametricism, modernism, the arguments raised seem a little trivial. All new things constructed are ‘modern.’ Labelling them and categorizing according to a set of defined principles almost contradicts the evolutionary nature of design. Just as laws of geometry and mathematics can be applied for visual interest, Grasshopper can be used to create new curved shapes and volumes, appealing to, and reflecting the people that engage with the building. As mentioned in the last reading, “style…goes beyond form, and actually has more to do with the formal expression of the zeitgeist.” Buildings designed with parametric software need not be called ‘parametric architecture’ but simply, contemporary. Lastly, the notion of bottom up, generative processed versus top down is a downward spiral in understanding a theoretical aspect of the process of design. Essentially all architecture is both. The building is defined by form, yet this is dictated by the inter-related network of parameters that must be considered, and make it. This is a very interesting notion and one not often though about by designers…perhaps I’ll have something else to say on it at the end of the subject.