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ABPL 30048 Studio One Stephen Khalek 538235 tutor: David Lister


expression of interest

a. Case for innovation



a.1. Architecture as a discourse a.2. Computational architecture a.3. Parametric modelling a.4. algorithmic explorations a.5. conclusion a.6. learning outcomes


a. Case for innovation


a.1. Architecture as a discourse

Arguably one of the most important phrases in current architectural practise is the ‘Avant-Garde’. With the allusion to concepts such as critical architecture, the formal typology of tectonic form and most importantly architectural discourse, the term: Avant-Garde, quintessentially captures the constructive feedback loops within architectural communication. At this point, it is crucial to clarify that architectural communication is not limited to constructed projects. Critical communication is also found within unconstructed concepts such as Sant’Elia’s 1914 Futurist manifesto of architecture or El Lissitzky’s 1925 Cloud Hangers . The value of these will later be discussed in relation to Hill’s coined term of immaterial architecture. Furthermore, architectural communication is also the verbal and written critiques of constructed and immaterial projects in relation to society, culture and history . Coincidently, this will also form the definition throughout this semester’s exploration for the term architectural discourse.

become well established, if not mainstream architectural practise and therefore demonstrates the value of the Avant-Garde in creating architectural discourse that will benefit the future.

Without critical architecture, discourse is a near impossibility. Schumacher discusses the autonomous, self-constructive network of communication within architecture as an autopoietic system. He theorises that architecture is a self-perpetuating, heuristic system that is based off an evolutionarily cyclical growth principle. However, if this were to be true, and discourse was non-inclusive of multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional factors, then surely it would be limited by the parameters of its current paradigm. For example, if the field of architecture was constrained by vernacular materiality and techniques we would only be constructing buildings out of bricks, timber and steel, however, with composite development, new forms of concrete, plastics and fabrics have developed and entered the industry through developments in cross-institutional fields. Williams describes the actions of the Following the theory of the closed autopoietic Avant-Garde as a force for moral critique of system, these inputs would have been design. It encapsulates more than the artistic neglected, however, architectural discourse expression of a construct’s typology whilst has learnt to adapt from more wide spanning complementarily critiquing the symbolic realm institutions. Lynn’s radical proposition of and the spatial experience. ‘blobitecture’ is inclusive of multi-disciplinary thought. Lynn’s suggests a revolution to the The beginnings of this non-superficial ideology architectural movement whereby, form should was discussed by Kenneth Frampton who organically respond to its environment and not sought beauty in structure and believed that it to preconceived building mentalities. Lynn’s should not be hidden by an artificial aesthetic work will be revisited in the investigation of skin, which had previously been done. He computational and parametric architecture. explored this throughout the prioritisation of ‘tectonics’ in architecture. This is a case in which a relatively revolutionary paradigm has 5

A.1.1 Precedence Plug-In City (Right) Walking City (Below)


Peter Cook, Archigram 1964

In commerce, a multi-disciplinary change is known as a change to institutional logic . This occurs when an individual not only draws on their own knowledge but also that of their relevant institution as well as their industry to attempt to be industry leaders. Although this may seem far afield from architecture, Williams notes that architecture is not just for the mind of an artist but it is often restrained by clients’ desires and budget, making economic parameters highly relevant to the constructability of architectural projects. Therefore it should be noted that architectural discourse should respect the symbolic realm and spatial experience to produce something more than art. For example, 8th August 2013, HASSELL, Herzog & De Meuron’s proposal won the redesign competition for Flinders Street Station and was respected for its architectural integrity. However, the Victorian government has not yet pledged to construct the “$1 to $1.5bn” project, therefore questioning the economically viability of the proposal. Although this should never constrain the creativity of any proposal, further justification to the public and cliental (in this case the Victorian State Government) is necessary to justify the cognitive practicality

of the project and to convey the symbiotic practicality . Unfortunately financial constraints shall always define parameters to design within, therefore, idealistically, the strongest architectural discourse should occur within the bounds of the finances.


A.1.2 Precedence

Nagakin Capsule Tower


Kisho Kurokawa Tokyo, Jspan, 1972

Archigram’s radical idea proposals are a good summary of Hill’s immaterial architecture . Although the projects were unconstructed, it was the insemination of ideologies into architectural discourse that allowed future, more refined versions, such as the Japanese metabolist movement to become reality. The process of societal shocking worked as a wake up call. The issues addressed were too invaluable to ignore. However, architects before Archigram addressed similar issues of overpopulation of settlements. Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation and his urban plan for Cité Radieuse offered solutions to the housing crisis in France between 1935-1952. It was Archigram’s radical approach, which allowed them to revolutionise the way in which the public undertook critical analysis of the projects. They had a long lasting affect to the discourse of housing redevelopment in which Le Corbusier could not achieve.

Furthermore, it was Archigram’s movement that laid the building blocks for the Metabolist’s movement with Kisho Kurokawa’s Nagakin Capsule Tower. Although the artistic deliverance may not have been aesthetically ideal, the symbolic importance of a building whose components are interchangeable and expendable once either obsolete or depleted allows for an adaptable environment. Cook discusses the value of “mass-produced expendable component dwellings” for the foresight of automated and mass-customised housing arrangements. This is an example of a critically analysed architectural design problem that only an architect who has balanced creativity and cognition could generate to contribute to the architectural discourse .


a.2. Computational architecture

It is critical to the design process that computational design is integrated within due to the balance of design and pragmatism that will allow an effective design process to unfold to encourage architectural discourse. With the development of computational competencies, avant-garde designers have been able to progress architectural discourse. Williams discusses that effective discursive action should be for consumption rather than production. He refers to consumption as the understanding of symbols and signs as well as the consumption of the spatial experience. It is possible to realise that architecture’s modern demands requires symbiosis between these factors whilst maintaining an “aesthetic brilliance” . Although Kalay mentions, “design is the epitome of intelligent behaviour” , to fully engage with three such comprehensive topics, computational design has emerged to provide the critical foresight and directionality that is necessary to create a project. It can therefore be argued that the process of computational creation is an extension of our desire to creatively solve problems, as it allows constant monitoring and a reduction 10

of strain on the human intellect to consider the analytical, allowing greater focus to be directed towards creative problem solving.

Considering computation is a relatively nascent introduction to design, in comparison to the expansive history of the architectural field, it is still in early development stages. To bridge the gap between analogue design processes and computational design, computerisation was a stepping-stone but is now often creates blurred definitions. Peters’ definition for computerisation in architecture stipulates that computers are only integrated into the design process after form and geometric creation has occurred. For example, Frank Gehry’s design for the Guggenheim museum, Bilbao, was generated through a series of rough sketches and paper models that were later scanned in 2D and 3D. This process is useful for fine tuning results and quickly generating images, schematics and working drawings.

A.2.1 Precedence Guggenheim Museum

Frank Gehry

Bilbao, Spain, 1997

Above: Below:


A.2.2 Precedence Grid-Shell Pavillion


City Form Lab & ARUP Singapore, 2013

This has been seen in the Singapore pavilion, whereby, each piece has been individually manufactured to precise details to construct an eventual optimised geometric mesh surface. This pavilion has used computational processing in multiple stages of its construction. Firstly, during the design phase, the design team configured the algorithmic processing to account for minimal volume to enclose, and therefore to derive the most efficient surface area, reducing material wastage, making the project more sustainable. Furthermore, the complex form of a double curved surface could only be bent optimally via computation, something that would have nearly been impossible without. Secondly, During the construction phase, since there were over three thousand unique plywood pieces and six hundred marginally different metal sheets, a CNC Machine could simply cut and form the structure’s components based off only a single drawing. This whole process

was exceptionally accelerated by computation and demonstrates how the process is a intelligent design system . Due to the simplicity of construction, this whole project is far more sustainable as it is only designed to be a temporary shelter. This pavilion truly encapsulates Kalay’s thoughts of entering this design process with a formulated goal, which matched the spatiotemporal context of the design problem . It is critical that light and temporary structures such as this are constructed because it not only tests the bounds of the current architectural constraints but it also demonstrates to the public just how fast discourse is progressing.


a.3. Parametric modelling

Evolutionary Change

Analogue Architecture

Revolutionary Change

Computerised Architecture

Computational Architecture

Rate of Change in Architecture


Parametric Architecture

When the leading parametric designers in the world struggle to clearly and comprehensively define a term such as ‘parametric’ or, ‘parametricism’, it then becomes evident that there probably is not an easy way to describe it. Based of the progression of architectural communication from analogue architecture, to computerised architecture, progressing into computational architecture and today arriving at parametric design, it is possible to observe two things. Firstly, architecture is rapidly progressing at an exponential rate. The rate in which we have progressed the last three stages is overwhelming to the analogue

architect. Secondly, it’s the growth of the architectural field. With the rate of change in architecture increasing, the fields in which architecture has begun to explore is highly expansive, creating buildings that have multisensory responses, or buildings that have now apparent structural form, returning to the ideas of Greg Lynn’s ‘Blobitecture’ . From the rate of growth and the rate of expansion, we can conclude one thing; architectural discourse has never thrived so prominently.


A.3.1 Precedence Galaxy Soho


Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) Beijing, 2012

As the one of Zaha Hadid’s leading architects, Patrik Schumacher undertakes and disseminates his perception of parametric design in a very literal sense of his own parameters; let’s call it ‘Patrametric’ design. Patrametric design assumes that parametricism is its own style rather than a process. Although he may use parameters to constrain his design whilst using algorithmic thought, he breaks the fundamental suggestions for computational architecture put forth by William’s, that critical architecture should be a art, a sign and an urban and social experience. However, when all of the proposals’ form coming from Zaha Hadid’s office are nearly identical, then it becomes increasingly challenging to identify how his architecture is parametric, ergo, the term ‘Patrametric’.


A.3.2 Precedence

ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion The research pavilion undertakes a detailed parametric model that highlights that aesthetic form is not the key driver towards architectural discourse. This umbrella like formation was a finely tuned and optomised surface in which the tension of the individidually spanning members were under the least strain and could span the greatest distance. Through the process of parametric design and rapid prototyping, it was possible to quickly generate realistic models to test the load bearing capacity of each member. The research pavilion achieves its strength through the varied manipulation of each section. The mesh that controls the 80 different types of sectioned strip patterns, must account for the flexibility of the wood and the way in which they will be laid out, therefore demonstrating a high level of sophistication, thus showing the strengths of parametric modelling.

Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) and the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) at the University of Stuttgart (2010)


a.4. Algorithmic Exploration

The ICD/ITKE Research pavilion demonstrates the strengths of sectioning in Parametric architecture. It allows for the perfect balance of lighting, as design programs can very simply factors this in for any time of the day at any stage of the year, at completely different longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This shows how comprehensive the design phase is that it creates a perfectly day lit enclosure. This inspired me to attempt to create something similar in form and an irregular arching canopy. Despite the many methods one might undertake to achieve such a form, I attempted the use of a Delaunay mesh function. However, since this is a triangulation, it does create angled edges rather than curved edges.


a.4. Algorithmic Exploration


a.5. conclusion

Jan Gehl describes cities based off pace. There is the 5km hour city or the city at a walking pace, the 60km hour (driving pace) and the city from a bird’s eye perspective. His ideology stipulates that the pace in which humans transcend cities is too fast. Therefore, it is necessary to slow down. Gehl aims to create liveable cities. His ideas were implemented in the closure of Swanston Street in the heart of Melbourne becoming a non-driving street and he has had a large influence in the Danish model of a riding city. He aims to create cities that are far more liveable. This is an image of what the modern architects want. A city that they can live in and that will instigate conversation, communication and discourse. Transition is necessary for a city to develop, therefore it is crucial that Wyndham undertake a dynamic mindset, leaving static architectural practices behind, and look forward towards parametric design. 21


1. Curtis, William, J,R. “Modern Architecture Since 1900.” New York: Phaidon Press Limited. (2012) 2. Hill, Jonathan (2006). ‘Drawing Forth Immaterial Architecture’, Architectural Research Quarterly, 10, 1, pp. 51-55 3. Richard Williams, ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’, in Exploring Visual Culture : Definitions, Concepts, Contexts, ed. by Matthew Rampley (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), pp. 102 - 116. 4. Kenneth Frampton, cited Williams 5. Patrik Schumacher, ‘Introduction : Architecture as Autopoietic System’, in The Autopoiesis of Architecture (Chichester: J. Wiley, 2011), pp. 1 - 28. 6. Lynn, Greg (1998) “Why Tectonics is Square and Topology is Groovy”, in Fold, Bodies and Blobs: Collected Essays ed. by Greg Lynn (Bruxelles: La Lettre volée), pp. 169182. 7. Thornton & Ocasio, 2008 8. Williams, 2005 9. Carey, Adam. 8th August, 2013. Flinders Street redesign competition won by HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron. The Age. 10. Carey, 2013 11. Yehuda E. Kalay, Architecture’s New Media : Principles, Theories, and Methods of Computer-Aided Design (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), pp. 5 - 25; 12. Hill, 2006 13. Cook, P. 1963. “Editorial” from Archigram 3. 14. Kalay, 2004 15. Williams, 2005 16. Kalay, 2004 17. Kalay, 2004 18. Brady Peters (2013) Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought in Architectural Design, pp8-15. 19. Brady, Peter (2013) Realising the Architectural Intent: Computation at Herzog & De Meuron. Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp. 56 - 61 20. Brady, Peter (2013) Computation Works: The building of algorithmic thought. Architectural Design, 83, 2, pp. 8 – 15 21. Kalay, 2004 22. Kalay, 2004 23. Peters, 2013 24. Kalay, 2004 25. Kalay, 2004 26. Lynn, 1998