ICD/ITKE Pavilion Achim Menges and Jan Kippers
Flatform Marble Fairbanks
Material Formations in Design Elijah Porter
Chapter 1 Timber/ Wood Products
Winnipeg Skate Shelters/Cocoons Patkau Architects
Dunescape SHoP Architects
Hygroscopically Enabled Responsiveness Steffen Reichert -Achim Menges
Wave Pavilion Parke MacDowell and Diana Tomova
Aqua Tower Studio Gang Architects
Bodhi Tree PROJECTiONE
Stratifications/Echord Gramazio Kohler Research
La Maison Unique Heatherwick Studio
The Sequential Wall Gramazio Kohler Research
Single Point Incremental Metal Forming Digital Arts Center
Le Café Caché Sebastien Wierinck
Chapter 2 Metals
Real Good Chair Blu Dot
118 Between the Sheets Heather Roberge, Instructor
122 MX3D Metal MX3D and Joris Laarman Lab
Chapter 3 Concrete/Masonry
290 Mulberry Street SHoP Architects
Iridescence Print Gramazio Kohler Research
P. F. 1 WORK.AC
C.A.S.T. Beam Mark West
Packed Tom Pawlofsky, Instructor
Composite Cladding Jefferson Ellinger
Bin Dome Rory Hyde
Freeform Catalan Thin-Tile Vaults/Armadillo Vault Philippe Block
VarVac Wall Houminn Studio
Pallet Canopy Digital Arts Center
P_Wall Andrew Kudless
Pipe Furniture Sebastien Wierinck
Unikabeton Asbjorn Sondergaard, Per Dombernowsky
Chapter 5 Recycled/Pre-Cycled
Table Cloth Ball Nogues Studio
Manuel DeLanda in his article “Philosophies of Design: The Case of Modeling Software” described the tendency for humans to value knowledge over know-how. With the advent of computational design technology, that tendency is reversing; machines are fully capable of storing the knowledge necessary to play chess, or to solve a math problem, while engineers struggle to design a “mechanical hand.” DeLanda is pointing to humanity’s technological innovations as the actual source of the problems society had hoped they would solve. In design, this is most obvious when a material’s character (touch, density, and durability) is ignored in the production of architectural design.
In other words the type of knowledge that we always thought was the most characteristic of human rationality, and hence, what made us different from animals is, in fact, the easier to mechanize. And the minor, less prestigious skills which we have always neglected to study, are the hardest to transmit to a machine, hence, the least mechanical.1
DeLanda goes on to describe how so often designers first select a ”surrendered” material, so that it can be used to create any shape desired. The projects in this text seek to find an alternative working method, one which relies on the material and its tooling first in the derivation of form.
Process-based design has quickly become an accepted method for the conceptual development of architectural form. At a multitude of scales, architects define systemic parameters or networked linkages that value relational dynamics over traditional, linear notions of design. From SHoP Architect’s materially constrained methodology,1 defined through Dunescape designers are drawn away from the metaphor, back to logicbased (responsive) form-making processes. Designers empowered by new technology now consider form as it is defined by identifiable systems. This evidencebased, parametric methodology is a response to two decades of computationally derived projects, often produced simply for their novelty. As far back as 1993 Juhani Pallasmaa was recognizing (and arguing for) a new “eco-functionalism” derived through linkages between technology, materiality, and form.
Ecological architecture also implies a view of building more as a process than a product. And it suggests a new awareness in terms of recycling and responsibility exceeding the scope of life. It also seems that the architect’s role between the polarities of craft and art has been redefined. The priority of representation will be replaced by the priority of performance. After decades of affluence and abundance, architecture is likely to return to the aesthetics of necessity in which elements of metaphorical expression and practical craft fuse into each other again; utility and beauty again united.3
Material-constrained processes, as they have been used to date, are typically tied to unit-based logics or systems, often limited in scale and scope by relatively tight parameters. For instance, the precast brick veneer used on SHoP’s 290 Mulberry development is constrained to a 3⁄32″ (2.3mm) corbel or overlap, brick-to-brick. To minimize cost they were required to create a single precast mold, but inventively blocked out portions of the mold to create a variety of different building façade components, from that single mold. The project becomes a diagram of its own constraints, minimizing customization, while maximizing formal outcomes. It is a process with a sustainable ethic applied not as an overlay but embedded in its very inventions.
The material performance of a project such as 290 Mulberry (p. 142) is defined primarily by the designer’s need to create an identifiable façade, within the constraints of a city’s zoning regulations and a developer’s pro forma. The use of a certain lot size predefines a number of units, of a particular size, which will ensure profitability. However, there is also a desire to create an identifiable icon for the project on a prominent corner site. The material response, in this instance, helped create an iconographic brick façade, while minimizing the effect on the unit size and overall construction cost (see details on 290 Mulberry p. 142). The parametric links, which SHoP created between the city’s zoning regulations, the developer’s fiscal constraints, the manufacturer’s construction specifications, and their own design intentions, exemplifies the type of parametric relationship this text seeks to celebrate.
THE MATERIALLY RESPONSIVE PARAMETER
In recent years, designers have developed processes for layering performance-based feedback into the early stages of design development.4 This is often a response to the tendencies of a construction industry that values efficiency-resulting in excessive waste-over environmental steadfastness. However, a systematic design process, applied specifically to material constraints could frame awareness of the interconnectivity between the mediums of ecology, parametric modeling, and CNC fabrication. David Gissen outlines an architectural ideology based upon the definition of Architectural Political Ecology.5 Gissen defines a variety of concepts to accomplish a “production of nature.” He is attempting to look beyond the superficialities of so-called “green” design to a set of strategies that embrace substantive design rather than the relatively mundane aesthetics of environmental awareness as an applied layer to architectural design. This type of substantive design is defined by the tangible knowledge of material characteristics, such as: dimensional properties, durability, deformation, waterproofing and weathering (if applicable), connection types, relative costs, color, texture, and finish. These characteristics define some of the performance criteria, which can and should be layered into the early stages of each design process, linked to their formal expression through parametric design. Further, these performance-based characteristics can be identified as the primary device for delimiting form through parametric design, most often through geometric relationships.
“Form-finding” as defined by Andrew Kudless is “the self organization of material under force to discover stable forms.” Using both analog methods of tension-only models hung in chain and fabric, and using advanced software tools such as Thrust Network Analysis (Philippe Block), there are many examples included in the following pages of work which attempt to respond to the form as it falls into stasis with gravity. These tests can result in forms hung in space as with Feathered Edge (p. 198), by Ball Nogues, or the fabric-formed beams of Mark West and C.A.S.T. (p. 128). These forms can also be inverted to create compression-only forms as with Philippe Block’s Catalan Thin-Tile Vaulting (p. 154).