Oyler Wu Collaborative

Emerging Voices News

Digital modeling helped shape the facade of a 10-story media office project in Los Angeles.
Courtesy Oyler Wu Collaborative

The Architectural League’s 30th annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture at the Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium at 41 Cooper Square in Manhattan. The next lecture takes place on Friday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m. when Oyler Wu Collaborative and SsD will present their work.

Oyler Wu Collaborative
Los Angeles, California

Watching the video on Oyler Wu Collaborative’s website of the construction of their installation Netscape, SCI-Arc’s annual graduation pavilion, surely isn’t a substitute for seeing in-person their largest built work yet—though it does a better job of expressing the team’s scope of vision than a photograph or any description. In this video, one sees the detail of the pavilion’s design in its minutia. Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu met at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and founded Oyler Wu Collaborative in 2000. They moved to Los Angeles in 2004 (both teach at SCI-Arc), and started experimenting with installations ranging in scale from courtyard to high-rise. The structures address the idea of line-work as tectonic expression, with elements mutating according to their structural and spatial properties. Wu explained, “We try to see how understanding line and the buildup and density of lines can create form.” The structures are equally informed by the limitations and possibilities of fabrication; in their early experiments with aluminum tubing, “every joint was cut, welded, and ground, which was very time-consuming.” Going forward, “we decided to bend aluminum tubes. Moving from something welded to bent has a profound effect on the fluidity and experience of the structure.”

Anemone is an art / architecture installation in Taipei completed in 2011 (left) and Netscape, a graduation pavilion for SCI-Arc built from rope, steel, and fabric (right).

The designers utilize digital and analog models in tandem throughout the design and construction process. Netscape, for example, required a feedback loop from digital analysis of the tension in the model and its shape and three-dimensionality. Using computer-aided drafting and engineering software, digital models are adjusted and tested to inform and anticipate physical prototypes. “We are always careful to design a system that can be added to as necessary,” said Oyler. Concurrent to their installation work, Oyler Wu Collaborative has designed a series of residential towers in Taipei. The tower facades are composed of balconies that undulate from floor to floor. “Many of our projects experiment with how line-work is scalable,” said Oyler.

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