Posts tagged with "Parametric Design":

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3XN's Olympic House undulates with a parametrically designed glass curtain wall

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Positioned adjacent to Lake Geneva and the Parc Louis Borget, the Olympic House is located on the outskirts of Lausanne, Switzerland. Opened in June 2019, the objective of the building's scheme was to bring the International Olympic Committee's hundreds of employees, spread across the city, under one roof. The project—which began as a competition in 2012—was led by the Danish architectural practice 3XN in collaboration with Swiss firm Itten+Brechbühl. For the facade of the new headquarters, the design team developed an undulating double-skin glass facade crafted with a custom-parametric script that produced thousands of models and drawings.
  • Facade Manufacturer Frener & Reifer Roschmann Schollglas MGT Mayer Glastechnik Schüco
  • Architect 3XN Itten+Brechbühl
  • Facade Installer Frener & Reifer
  • Facade Consultant & Engineer Emmer Pfenningr Partner AG
  • Location Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Date of Completion 2019
  • System Schüco AWS 90 (internal facade) Custom Frener & Reifer steel and aluminum system (external facade)
  • Products Schollglas 8 FT / 14 / 6FT / 14 / 1212.6 HS MGT Mayer Glastechnik 88.4 low-Iron, ceramic frit #2 NCS-S-3000N Ipasol 70/37
The building rises to a height of four stories and encompasses nearly 240,000 square feet, with the lowest floor burrowed into the landscaping. According to the design team, the primary stylistic influence for the enclosure was the form of the athlete—each perspective provides a different viewpoint of the building, as if it were in movement. To develop the form of the Olympic House, 3XN relied on a minimal data model defined by five parametric curves per elevation. A separate drawing was developed for each component of the facade assembly, culminating in approximately 33,500 individual drawings. The original design concept developed by 3XN called for the interior and outer skins to mirror each other, with both being comprised of distorted, diamond-shaped panels. Following consultation with facade manufacturer and installer Frener & Reifer, it was determined that such a layout could prove cost-prohibitive. Instead, the original complexity of the outer facade was maintained, while that of the interior was simplified to a more standard curtain wall format. Although the simplification of the double-skin enclosure reduced the cost and construction time of the project—construction began on May 2016 and the building was air- and- watertight by 2018—the assembly of the facade remained remarkably complex. "Every element in the facade, except the nuts and bolts holding it together, is unique," said the design team. "Each glass panel, each load-bearing column, is unique in its shape and in its relations to neighboring elements." There are 194 glass panels per floor for both the inner and outer facade. The inner facade is held at the top and bottom at each floor plate with base profiles and has a surface area of just under 25,000 square feet. Girder arms extend from the concrete roof slab, which in turn support the 388 aluminum-clad steel fins that line each elevation. According to Frener Reifer, "this made it possible to hang the fins from top to bottom and to transfer the load of the upper two floors to the roof." Additionally, the exact height of the fins could be altered on-site through the use of adjustable screws. To shade the broadly illuminated office space, the design team placed three-inch-thick aluminum Venetian blinds between the interior and exterior facades. Additionally, a catwalk is accessible from 24 points within the building between the two curtain walls, facilitating a straightforward maintenance program.  
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Land Rover's Shanghai Offices keeps the sun out with a diaphanous ceramic frit

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  The district of Pudong in Shanghai has exploded over the last two decades with approximately 10 percent annual population growth, while the city’s skyline has soared eastward to the East China Sea. FGP Atelier, a Chicago-based firm founded by Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido, has imprinted its distinctive style in the district with the Land Rover tower-and-retail complex featuring a ceramic fritted glass facade. The complex is spread over a 185,000-square-foot campus, with the two 21-story towers located on the northeastern and southwestern corners.
  • Facade Manufacturer Yuanda
  • Architects FGP Atelier
  • Facade Installer Yuanda
  • Facade Consultants Schmidlin
  • Location Shanghai, China
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Unitized glass curtain wall
  • Products Custom fritted glass
The ceramic frit pattern, which extends from the towers to the two-story retail spaces ringing the development, is both practical and symbolic. Covering up to 35 percent of the facades, the ceramic pattern is a sun filter that also conceals interior support columns and other infrastructural details. Symbolically, the diaphanous pattern evokes the dense foliage of China’s bamboo forests. “The organic feel that results balances the regularity of the plan and allows the building to change as light hits the various surfaces in different manners,” said Gonzalez-Pulido. “This transformation is particularly present as the sun sets and the building glows from within.” Produced by Chinese-manufacturer Yuanda, the custom glass unitized curtain wall consists of a triple layer laminated design, with the ceramic pattern in the third layer. Because making every 5-by-15-foot facade panel unique would be too expensive, FGP Atelier arranged 52 patterns with a parametric design tool that mirrored and rotated different panels into a rationalized layout. While the overall approach remained consistent throughout the design process, shifting government mandates forced the design team to regularly go back to the drawing board. Originally, FGP Atelier wanted facade panels to be over 50 percent covered by the ceramic frit. However, governmental concerns regarding the quality of Chinese ceramics dictated that at most only half of each panel could be covered. The design team addressed this challenge by hollowing larger ceramic components while maintaining the original pattern. As the project moved forward, another spanner was thrown into the works by the local regulatory body. Because of concerns regarding the reflectivity of the glass curtain wall, Shanghai's building department dictated that FGP Atelier incorporate stainless steel fins—a reflective material—to dampen the iridescence of the curtain wall. To reduce the obtrusiveness of this element from the otherwise smooth facade, the design team opted for black-coated stainless steel, which effectively mirrors the pattern of the ceramic frit.
 
   
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DS+R wraps 15 Hudson Yards with the largest cold-warped curtainwall in North America

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and Rockwell Group's first skyscraper, 15 Hudson Yards, is now complete after four years of construction. The 88-story residential tower fuses the largest cold-warped glass curtain wall in North America with a louver and limestone base. The tower is located on the southwestern flank of Hudson Yards's first phase located on 28 acres between 30th and 34th Streets, and 10th and 11th Avenues. One of the sites many towers, 15 Hudson Yards alone will enclose a whopping 980,000 square feet. The 914-foot-tall project rises from a CNC-fabricated limestone base sourced from Carrara, Italy. According to the design team, parametric guidelines and 3-D modeling facilitated a seamless design-to-fabrication process for both the approximately 1800 stone panels and their steel support systems produced in Queens and New Jersey. The rear of each panel is studded with metal angles fastened to a network of bent plates attached to the steel support system.
  • Facade Manufacturer New Hudson Facades CIG Architecture Berardi Stone Setting
  • Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro (Lead Architect) Rockwell Group (Lead Interior Architect)
  • Facade Installer Core Installation Berardi Stone Setting
  • Facade Consultants Thelen Design Group Vidaris
  • Location New York
  • Date of Completion January 2019
  • System Glass & stone curtain wall assembly
  • Products Interpane Insulated Glazing Units Bamco Ventilated Rainscreen Systems Santucci Group Dimensional Limestone Cladding CIG Architecture Formed Stainless Steel Cladding
The Shed, also designed by DS+R and Rockwell Group, adjoins the smooth limestone surface of 15 Hudson Yards along a diagonal seam defined by polished and formed steelwork by CIG Architecture. Incorporating the dynamic performance arts space into the base of the tower presented a number of mechanical and structural challenges for the design team. The 48.7-inch-wide modules all have both a glass and ventilation louver component. The designers varied the ratio of the two pieces parametrically to best ventilate interior mechanical equipment, with the widths of the louvers ranging from 4 to 31 inches. Beginning at the 20th story, the tower dramatically curves using a cold-warped unitized glass curtain wall system. The individual glazing units, produced by German manufacturer Interpane, were cold-warped on site. To warp the glass components, the panels were held in trapezoidal frames with silicone seal joints that anticipated the final form of the panels once they were bent into place. While early renderings of the project depicted 15 Hudson Yards with anatomical undulations, cost constraints and manufacturer warranties straightened the design into its current form. “We worked very closely with curtain wall fabricators from concept through execution, and the tower’s form is a product of this close collaboration,” said facade consultant Neil Thelen. “Using a collaborative parametric approach, we were able to iterate and analyze the impact of the tower’s curved forms on critical parameters such as IGU cold-warping, aluminum extrusion die option, unique part and assembly reduction, gasket engagement, and window operation.” Above the amenity spaces located roughly halfway up the tower—which are clad with glass mega panels—the facade's curvature increases dramatically, effectively breaking into four turrets. The glass panels deflect up to 8 inches at the skyscraper's summit. Although the dimensions and material of the facade differ throughout the tower, the cladding all attaches to the structural frame with a similar technique. “There are embedded plates in the slab edges to which faceplates are bolted with adjustable screws to align bearing points for each wall unit. Each curtain wall unit has a pair of load bearing hooks at the top where the dead load is transferred to the building structure from the hooks,” said DS+R project director John Newman. “It hangs from there and interlocks with a large, gasketted tongue-and-groove extrusion at the top of the unit below.” In response to river-borne gusts, the facade is designed to withstand 100-year wind loads with a system of structural silicone profiles, mullions, and steel reinforcements for spans greater than twelve feet. Additionally, testing conducted by an independent lab determined the placement of supplemental-load bearing aluminum extrusions.
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!melk slings traditional timber barn design into the 21st century

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The Barn, designed by New York–based landscape architecture practice !melk, is a parametrically-designed wooden canopy with a restaurant and beer hall that opened in 2017. Located in the city of West Sacramento, the 9,100-square-foot project is the lynchpin of the larger 178-acre Bridge District, a mixed-use project with a planned population of 9,000 residents developed by Fulcrum Property.
  • Facade & Structural Manufacturer Gudgel-Yancey Roofing, Wood Tech Services
  • Architects !melk
  • Facade Installer Brown Construction
  • Facade Consultants Magnusson Klamencic Associates
  • Location West Sacramento
  • Date of Completion June 2017
  • System Glulam truss system resting atop collonade of steel piers
  • Products Class A Cedar Shingles, Carlisle WIP 300ht, Titanium PSU30
The undulating building rises from two “pods” occupying 900 square feet and 2,300 square feet respectively. Each pod sits atop a three-foot-thick concrete foundation that extends six feet outward from the circular glass curtain wall. A colonnade of concrete-filled, 14-foot-tall steel structural sections ring each pod, with each column strategically spaced to support the 16-ton wooden canopy above. Rising up to 20 feet from these two separate concrete-and-steel structural foundations is the double-cantilevered superstructure built of glue-laminated timber supplied by Oregon’s Wood Tech Services. According to !melk director Ian Hampson, a system of custom-designed steel “buckets,” timber rivet, and cross braces, are used “to tie together the intersections of the glulam beams and help to brace for lateral load and torquing. Hampson noted that the bucket plates both bear and rest on the glulam trusses depending on their location, and “allow for the attachment of a structural lattice, which makes each glulam truss function similar to the trestle of a bridge.” The secondary system, protruding from the superstructure’s glulam trusses and brackets, is composed of standard 4 x 4 inch and 6 x 6 inch wood beams that are topped with nearly inch-thick plywood sheets insulated with synthetic polymer roofing. Over 7,000 Class A cedar shingles, produced by Sacramento’s Gudgel-Yancey Roofing, cascade across the roofline, soffits, and towards the base of each podium. Since only a third of the overall footprint is occupiable space—an preexisting access route to the River Walk Trail runs through it—the design team envisaged The Barn as a public realm overlooking the Sacremento River and the downtown area. To shield any public gathering or lingering pedestrians from the Northern California sun, !melk employed parametric design to understand the impact of orientation and massing on overall shading, leading to the structure's unique oblong canopy. The underbelly of the canopy is defined by the exposed grillage of the secondary system's wood beams and soffits composed of the same Class A Cedar shingles. Exposing the truss system above, the grillage facilitates natural ventilation to the enclosed pods, and space for lighting features visible from across the Sacramento River.
 
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Zaha Hadid Architects exhibit presents promise and peril of parametric design

  To the late Zaha Hadid, “math was like sketching.” Since her death, this attitude to architecture and design has been continued by her firm, ZHA, chiefly through ZHCODE, a computation and design research offshoot set up in 2007, the work of which is currently on display at The Building Centre in London. Borrowing theorist Mario Carpo’s terminology, the exhibition at The Building Centre is titled Digital Turn and showcases ZHCODE’s methods and ideas while exploring how digital tools have changed our ways of making and thinking. This is the second of two in a series of exhibitions. Earlier in the year, Digital Turn had showcased the academic work of The Bartlett’s Design Computation LabDigital Turn is divided into two parts: tectonism and semiotics. The former looks at the structure and geometry of digital fabrication, while the latter examines the physical results of this and its relationship to various contexts. This setup essentially translates into parametric design versus algorithm and data-driven urbanism. Visitors to the gallery are welcomed by full-scale white EPS foam offcuts, called "foam grottos." The undulating formwork, made from robotic hot wire cutting, is indicative of ZHA’s sinuous style and serves as a threshold to the exhibition space while being a cue for what is to come. "ZHCODE have been a perfect fit for the show; they are a research team within a professional practice so the narrative worked well, offering a mix of live projects and theoretical ideas," a spokesperson for The Building Center told The Architect's Newspaper. "Inspiring exhibits such as Thallus and the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum initially caught our attention, and in conversation with ZHCODE we realized we could display a range of ideas not yet exhibited." Part of the exhibition is dedicated to the recently completed Winton Gallery at London’s Science Museum. Building on the work of Frei Otto, ZHA’s studies into the “minimal surfaces” of 3-D objects informed the design, with a triangle-based pyramid being “reduced” (read: imploded) to a curvaceous hanging module which served as a circulation device, as shown in image at the top of the page. Wile nonetheless interesting and insightful, some physical design aspects of Digital Turn feel as if they belong in the past, in a similar vein to the most recent ZHA projects which still feel like a vision of the future from the 1990s. Robotic hot wire cutting has been around for more than two decades and though it has advanced, it’s hardly a groundbreaking fabrication method. One wonders if the visionary British-Iraqi architect were still alive, how the studio would have moved on. In response to this, The Building Center said that "parametricism isn’t the focus of the show…We also wanted to understand what was next from the practice that coined this term." Showcasing the Winton Gallery, however, also reveals how parametric design does more than just produce fancy curves. It also serves as an organizational tool. The aforementioned floating module was used in tandem with a circulation strategy derived from the airflow around a biplane. Naturally, this airflow diagram produced countless curves, but it also allowed ZHCODE to produce massing studies for objects in the gallery that align with it. This kind of design process has also been scaled by ZHA in urban studies that derive from an algorithmic input. In one example, a computer program located potential infill sites in London, identifying “end of block” plots of land, or sites that can be found at the edges of tower blocks. As a result, it proposed that housing be built on these underutilized areas. Another notable example is an exploration into modular housing. By using a uniform lattice structure, residents can customize their dual-aspect unit’s facades, adding balconies or changing the window type in the process. It’s basically Alejandro Aravena’s half houses scheme but for the wealthy. And it’s that latter notion which, when coupled with derisory remarks from the current head of ZHA, Patrik Schumacher, on social housing and desire to privatize cities, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Furthermore, the often overtly abstract nature of parametric architecture, an architecture reserved for museums, corporate headquarters, luxury hotels, and extravagant condominiums, doesn't counter this sense of elitism either. A welcome palate cleanser can be found in another exhibition at The Building Center from Royal College graduate Hannah Rozenberg, who won this year's Student Prize for Innovation. Her book, Building Without Bias: An Architectural Language for the Post-Binary illustrates how artificial intelligence isn’t always right and is even sometimes racist, as demonstrated by Microsoft’s "Tay" bot which ended up making racist, misogynistic, and genocidal remarks on Twitter. If a Twitter bot can do that, who’s to say an urban planning bot wouldn’t start redlining?  Does Digital Turn subsequently highlight that, while parametric design may be an incredibly useful design tool for both making and thinking, its urbanistic potential is something to be wary of?  The Building Center responded to this. "ZHCODE’s algorithmic design work on display in Digital Turn showcases the most advanced algorithmic design taking place today," it said. "For example, the computational study series exploring housing liveability measures shows how advanced algorithmic methods of design generate a formal outcome that guarantees multiple desired conditions are synthesized in a single solution to a particular site. The digital design method therefore provides the designer/architect with sophisticated options to site-specific problems.

"Still far from an autonomous design bot, relinquished of the architect's control, the project showcases the potential of algorithmic design. Hannah’s work recognizes the importance of these methods, but highlights that we are at a juncture where we need a robust analytical response to ensure we design and build our future for everyone."

Digital Turn  On view through September 14 The Built Environment Trust's RCA Student Prize for Innovation On view through August 29 The Building Centre Store Street London, U.K.
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Kory Bieg of Austin's OTA+ on how parametric design can shape structures

Aluminum composite panels have been making headlines of late for all the wrong reasons. The subject of scourge was at the heart—or rather, outer edges—of the Grenfell Tower disaster in the U.K. that saw a fire take the lives of an estimated 80 people as flames traveled via the building's aluminum composite cladding. However, at Facades+ AM conference in Austin yesterday morning, the material was shown in a new light. As part of the opening discussion panel, titled Digital Design and Fabrication Frontiers, principal at OTA+, Kory Bieg demonstrated how aluminum composite panels can be used to make three-dimensional structures such as arches and vaults. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Bieg described how he used parametric design tools such as the Kangaroo plugin for Grasshopper to design Caret 6. The vaulting structure, designed and fabricated by his Design V Studio at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, was part of an exhibition on metal structures in 2013. Caret 6 is comprised of large folded panels and responds to a brief that called for a structure using aggregation, weaving, and stacking techniques to create an assembly that could transition from a flat surface to a volumetric enclosure.
"To enable a smooth transition from a flat, two-dimensional ground surface into a volumetric, three-dimensional vault, the studio used a diamond pattern that could work as both an aggregate and woven rib-system. Though the diamond pattern appears to be series of stacked cells, the structure is actually three layers of overlapping ribs," said OTA+ on its website. "Large, continuous primary ribs form the seams from vault to vault, while secondary ribs span between each seam. Tertiary ribs complete the web and enclose each cell to create a rigid structure."
"A core goal of the studio was to introduce asymmetry into what would otherwise be a symmetrical form. The vault is roughly eleven foot at its highest point, enclosing a space small enough for occupants to engage directly with the surface, a condition atypical for most vaults which often frame larger and much taller spaces. "Caret 6 was designed to fill an already existing space," said Bieg, "so it was necessary to design a geometry that responded to the existing room, especially at the edges, where the vaulting forms project toward the walls."
Bieg benefitted from using Robot Structural Analysis which enabled him to model and test different Aluminum Composite Panel configurations to find the optimum structural solution. "Ultimately, we added a layer of attachment details that included thousands of O-rings and binder rings to ensure stability in the event a lateral force or unexpected point load is applied (ie. someone hanging on the edge of the cantilever), but in its resting state, Caret 6 does not require any fasteners," the firm said. Bieg was joined by Anthony Birchler of fabrication firm Zahner. "Digital manufacturing plays an enormous role in not only what we do, but the changing landscape of architecture and design fields," he said speaking to AN. "Designers want to understand how they can interface with a firm like Zahner—and here's the big part—they need to know how to establish this kind of precedent with their clients in our industry. Our presentation shows how firms are accomplishing unique architectural works. This isn't theoretical. This is our practice, and we want to show you how you can do this kind of work"
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ACADIA 2016 showcased the diversity of cutting-edge computational design

This year’s meeting of the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) was hosted at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. It was the 36th meeting of ACADIA, and was regarded to be an incredibly successful showing. The theme of the conference, Posthuman Frontiers: Data, Designers, and Cognitive Machines, was paired with the Posthuman Frontiers exhibition, featuring jury-selected projects submitted to the conference, as well as the advanced work of Taubman College faculty. The events of the conference were held at multiple venues around Ann Arbor, and were preceded by several workshops that made use of Taubman College’s digital fabrication and instruction facilities.

For those of us on the outside looking in (in our lesser moments, perhaps), the ACADIA community might easily be misconstrued as a group of architects obsessed with robots, or possessing an interest in complicated shapes made in Grasshopper for their own sake. However, the three days this author spent among their ranks at this year’s conference were some of the most inspiring in recent memory. Yes, there were moments of geometric fetishism, and yes, there were a considerable number of time-lapse videos of robot arms in progress. But when taken in aggregate, these projects, papers, and talks reframed and made vibrant the essential ingredients of what we work on as architects: the arrangement of solid and void, the cultural effects of form, and the possibilities of what we might craft in the built environment.

It must be said that the range of work presented was dramatic. Even within the more immediately applicable papers and projects were sober arguments for parametric design in space planning, a smart device for lowering cooling costs in office spaces, newly designed plugins to optimize the unfolding of 3-D meshes, and progress-in-training robots to lay tile in order to relieve the strain on human bodies.

Caress of the Gaze from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Reaching into more radical territory, we saw prototyped near-body architectures operating on the politics of the posthuman in Behnaz Farahi’s “Caress of the Gaze,” an actuated garment which tracks—and responds to—the eye movement of those regarding the wearer. We saw installations that build intimacy and a sense of cooperative play between humans and digital entities. There was work which adopted uncommon material alliances of “programmable matter,” such as in Jane Scott’s intertwining of hydrophobic fibers that writhe and retract when exposed to water vapor (one of several fabric-oriented works), and too many others of note to mention them all.

But some of the most memorable moments from this conference were the keynote addresses, as they punctuated the proceedings with disparate tones and positions that illuminated the diversity of this community. Theodore Spyropoulos led the charge on Thursday with a talk entitled All Is Behavior (a play on Hans Hollein’s claim that “All are architects. Everything is architecture.”) It quickly became clear that Spyropoulos sees the future of cities, and indeed, that of humanity, in a technologically positivist light. He envisions self-organizing and aggregating structures which allow for adaptivity in the face of changing climatic or social conditions, and seeks to bring us into more sympathetic forms of interaction with robotic and digital entities.

The evening of the same day found the participants exposed to other visionary work, in a dreamy—and at times titillating—conversation between Philip Beesley and Iris Van Herpen, whose ongoing collaborations are advancing both Van Herpen’s work at the forefront of couture, and Beesley’s at, perhaps, the architectural equivalent. Lucidly expressive, Beesley’s tone was one of wonderment—of proposed, barely imaginable relationships between humans and matter. In fact, Beesley’s role is most easily understood, and his work is most easily appreciated, when it is placed in the context of couture, the goal of which is to push the bounds of what is possible in clothing.

Mario Carpo’s discussion of the cultural implications of searchability was a thoughtful meditation and provocation that ultimately concluded the conference Saturday evening, but the real climax of ACADIA 2016 was a keynote lecture Friday evening by Elizabeth Diller, as she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite a playful hesitance to engage with the foreboding finality of “Lifetime Achievement,” Diller generously outlined some of the more seminal works of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), one of the most influential practices in the world over the past 25 years. Early in the talk, Diller emphasized her interest in the fields adjacent to architecture, a propensity for smaller scale works, and a persistent fascination with “the encounter.” By the end, however, she was in a mode of pure architectural shoptalk, sharing in-progress photos of the recently manufactured steel struts and enormous wheels that will comprise The Shed, currently in construction in New York’s Hudson Yards development. Diller concluded her remarks with some reflections upon the way culture has shifted since some of DS+R’s early work. In the present day, she claims:

“...the speed of obsolescence makes technology a liability. Dumber is better than smarter and the best thing to do for culture in the future is to secure real estate. It’s as basic as that.

Then: Systems theory, game theory, cybernetic control systems were tools to democratize culture.

Now: Digital technologies allow culture to be open source, dispersed, and on-demand. However, with democracy comes the ubiquitous condition of being monitored, so it’s a different time.…

Then: Kit of parts and kinetic systems produce flexibility.

Now: Flexibility is a paradox. The more flexibility is built in, the more predetermined, leaving nothing but empty space (this is related to ‘dumb is a virtue’).

Then: Disciplinary borders had to be broken.

Now: Despite academia’s parsing and classification, the richly indeterminate contours of interdisciplinarity, intradisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity—we actually have to push to make these things happen, because somehow, the real world divides everything up again. Because that’s where money comes from—different places. And it’s going to take a long time to change the system.

Then: Government support for culture was assumed.

Now: To avoid the vicissitudes of the economy, the cultural institutions must produce their own financial security.

Then: The architect was a generalist that gathers research from subcommittees.

Now: Professionalization turns the architect into a director/producer that relies on a rolling cadre of subconsultants who bring an ever-widening depth of expertise to ever-more adventurous problems. So, then and now, the architect gets to push the agency of the profession to invent a cultural and civic project on both scores.”

These sage thoughts carried the conference into its final day, which held perhaps the most poignant moment of the proceedings, as Chuck Eastman, one of the original founders of ACADIA in 1981, received the Society Award of Excellence. Hearing Eastman describe the early days of computational design, the work that went into tasks as simple as Boolean operations, put the tools we now take for granted in perspective. It is amazing how far computational design has advanced in just a few decades, and this community shows no sign of slowing. No doubt, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab will rise to the occasion and show us the next chapter a year from now, as they are slated to host ACADIA 2017.

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Patrik Schumacher on starchitecture: "It's just not helpful... We don't want to be stars"

When Zaha Hadid passed away this March, many questioned the future of her practice, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). As its leader, the Iraq-born British architect had played a starring role in the international design scene. Since her passing, ZHA has continued with Patrik Schumacher, the firm's only former partner, at its helm. Schumacher spoke with AN's Senior Editor Matt Shaw about what the future holds for ZHA, the impact of starchitecture, progressive urbanism, and more.

The Architect's Newspaper: How will ZHA continue? Do you feel like you have a good team behind you? 

Patrik Schumacher: Oh absolutely we have a great team [and] many layers of people who have been with us for many, many years. A lot of them are former students of mine. There’s a...much-shared sensibility and set of values—let’s say the DNA of the firm—deeply embedded in everybody’s way of working. It's also not just about being ambitious about ZHA, but being ambitious about giving leadership to the discipline as a whole. This is something I’ve been doing through my writings and attempting to do. There’s also the effort to overcome some of the prejudice, which the firm has faced through some of its critics.

What do you make of ZHA's criticisms?

I think this is based on a lack of understanding of our motivations. I’m trying to address this and I want to be more open to engagement with critics [by] explaining what we’re really about. We don’t want to be stars. We don’t want to become rich quick. We’re not insensitive to social and political issues. We actually share a lot with those critical of our work, critics who sometimes seem to take the moral high ground. What we all share, and should be expected to share as a basis for conversation, is a commitment to societal development, progress, emancipation, freedom, prosperity, and attempt to make architecture relevant to [the] development of the city and society. These kinds of shared motivations should be a basis for a conversation, [one that] also respects that maybe we see clients differently. We at ZHA see society's development differently and I’m willing to talk about my optimism for more market-based organization processes and entrepreneurial solutions to societal problems. Solutions to maybe what we can perceive to be certain economic statements and stagnation in recent years. 

Do you think that as the discussion around Zaha Architects changes from one of a star to a system there will be a change?

I think it’s very important because the starchitecture discourse, when the phrase comes up, always has negative connotations of superficiality, celebrity cult, etc. It was very unhelpful to us and certainly not something we or even Zaha was ever aiming for. It’s just not helpful. People become well-known because of a certain merit, because of an inspirational flavor and input of their work into the field. It is generated initially within the discipline through a form of peer recognition before being carried out into the public at large. At that point, some of the reasons why a person became well known get lost and you just have a free floating celebrity. That’s not helping. I don’t think that I’m aspiring to this, nor would I achieve this. At ZHA, we want to focus more on the ideas, principles, and, of course, with respect to society at large and the clients [with whom] we had established a reputation. Colleagues and critics should be able to realize that this is not only a superficial reputation, but a reputation which has reasons to back it up.

I’ve been saying that the discourse on icons is misguided in many ways. Iconography, in a positive sense, is something that becomes conspicuous because it’s innovative and has been rigorously developed from principles. Conspicuity, recognizability, and strangeness can be seen as side-effects even when the act of being iconic is not the driver or the original motif. Instead, it’s a temporary inevitability.

If you look at the Seagram building in New York when it arrived on the scene in the 1950s, it had the shock of a different form of "new." It was incredibly iconic and of a totally new civilization. However, this is only a temporary condition. Now the city has been remade in its image and you hardly notice it. Only architects who are aware of this notice. That is the way we should look at some of our work. As temporarily conspicuous and not necessarily something which we are craving for. Our work is not meant to be a spectacle and this is important to realize because it can very easily become a target for icon and star bashing. This is incredibly unhelpful because it’s no longer talking about the merit and demerit the of the work, its arguments, and the innovative thrust of a project, but rather its superficial celebrity status.  

Do you see the parametricism as being the "next modernism?"

Yes, though they have very different technological social paradigms. This civilization has evolved into a new condition and, as a result, the built environment is bound to change with it. In fact, it has been continuously changing but in ways which the discipline so far hasn’t impacted it sufficiently. If parametricism does not become hegemonic like modernism was in the 1960s, then it means that the discipline has become impotent. Currently, we have retro styles like neo-rationalism dominating construction in London and that simply means that the last 50 years of architectural research development made no impact at all. You might as well have shut down all organs of architectural criticism or schools of architecture or biennials because they came to zero. 

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Open-source parametric brick wall “hacks the digital” in Iran

Sstudiomm, an Iranian architecture office founded by Hossein Naghavi, has developed a digital brick laying technique and an open-source DIY kit for architects interested in the system. The project, titled Negative Precision, is the outcome of Naghavi’s independent research into parametrically derived brick laying techniques. Using Kohler and Gramazio’s 2006 robotically programmed wall as a departure point, sstudiomm sought out alternative methods to reproduce the same effect with a limited budget, “in order to make the luxurious reachable for a greater group.” Located in Iran’s historic city of Damavand (roughly 50 miles west of Tehran), the project pulls from traditional brick patterning in the city, most notably Shebeli Tower which dates back to the 10th century. The architects digitally modeled an “X” shaped form that references the decorative brick tower, then worked with Grasshopper to produce a script varying brick rotation. The outcome of the script is essentially a stack bond brick veneer wall where bricks rotate within a calculated 18 degree range to register a patterned "X" form across the facade. Sstudiomm confidently calls this the “simplest grasshopper code ever.” From the digital model, a series of precise stencil templates are produced from lasercut stock aluminum plate. In the field, a plum string helps to establish a start point for each course of bricks. Theoretically by adjusting the reference surface in the script, a new textural patterning will be generated, offering a customizable visual identity for other architects. Sstudiomm says the most significant challenge for the undulated brick veneer wall was the handling of gaps between bricks, which vary by almost an inch. As a brick rotates outward, a larger gap is produced between neighboring bricks. “The gaps are never seen from the front view and from almost all of the perspectives they are hidden by staggering bricks around them. These gaps are providing the financial possibility of having a parametric wall built without a robot.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Heidari brick of Tehran (brick manufacturer)
  • Architects sstudiomm
  • Facade Installer Sadegh Naghavi, Behest construction co. (construction) with sstudiomm
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Damavand, Iran
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Independent self-standing veneer wall connected to the main structure
  • Products Iranian traditional bricks by Heidari, lasercut aluminum stencils
Another challenge for the project team was the dimensional stability of the brick units. For this facade, three different colors and dimensions (from 7.5 inches to 8 inches) are incorporated due to a handmade manufacturing process that yields variation based on heat exposure from location in the kiln. Naghavi says the brick laying method was able to accommodate this diversity by prioritizing a clean starting and ending point at the corners of the facade. “You need to align the outer corner of the brick with inside of the stencil, and that’s all that matters. This will result in a change in the width of the vertical bonds which does not matter because they already are a mess.” Negative Precision challenges a “surplus precision” of digital fabrication, which typically drives up project cost. “A considerable part of building industry functions with lower precision, and uses production methods of the last century. In other words, digital technology is a luxury, though it may not be revealed in the first glance,” said Naghavi in an interview with AN. “Precision fetishism is generally interesting as it is a phenomenon everybody is struggling with in some level, whether in buildings or raising a kid. Apparently as a group of mammals we like organizing, and we are very capable of liking it too much.” By allowing for some degree of error in the translation between his digital model and the built form, Naghavi has prioritized economy over precision, embracing a "lo-fi" approach to digital fabrication: “I avoided an accurate 3-D model, not only for my own laziness, but also for generalizing the design method and unbinding it from the 3-D model. The builder is left on site with a new tool.” Naghavi said his work actually consists of three parallel projects: a building, a method, and a paper. “I think the more we move away from the matter [the built work] toward words, the result becomes more important as it will have a longer life.” Naghavi says the paper has taken more time than the building. “This brick project is a very small outcome of the strategies discussed in the paper.” To continue the discussion, another significant artifact of the project—the 17 lasercut aluminum stencils—are up for sale on sstudiomm's website, which offers a DIY kit geared towards design professionals.
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An architecture course built around Burning Man and students finding ways to fund their projects

Each year, the Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock desert of Nevada attracts fantastical sculptures of all shapes and sizes. Joshua Potter, a fifth year student at the University of Westminster in London, is hoping that his structure "PURSUIT" will make to this years festival. Part of his studio assignment, PURSUIT follows a parametric approach—and an emphasis on self-reliance to fund student projects—that has become synonymous with his studio unit. Run by tutors Arthur Mamou-Mani and Toby Burgess, the studio, named DS10, has garnered a strong pedigree for complex designs. However, DS10's primary approach, according to Potter is about producing "happy and fun" architecture that also relies on rigorous testing such as model making and digital fabrication. “The studio's philosophy is to involve students as much as possible in the design, fabrication and construction process" the two said. "We chose Burning Man for its ten guiding principles which include ‘Radical Self-Reliance,’ ‘Radical Self-Expression,’ ‘Leave no trace,’ and ‘communal effort.’ This meant playful and climbable structures, fully built by us as a team in a way that wouldn't harm the local environment.” Within the past five years, DS10 has submitted over 80 projects to the Global Arts Grant of Burning Man. As a result, six proposals have been provided funding through the scheme, notably Fractal Cult and Shipwreck constructed in 2013 and Hayam in 2014. Students are heavily encouraged to seek funding for their projects either through the Global Arts Grant or Kickstarter, to see their projects realized. "They try and make it a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work!" said Potter, who also added that DS10's ethos has taught many students, including himself about being independent and self reliant. His project brief, meanwhile, called for a project that could respond to a social agenda, through a set of parameters. As a result, PURSUIT was born. Deriving from a mathematical theory known as "pursuit curvature," a system that relies on inputs and thresholds. Potter used the shape of an arrowhead and formed the idea of six arrowheads pointing towards the center. Using the this algorithmically, an iterative process forces certain points to move in accordance with each other. "With Pursuit Curvature, each point starts at a unique position of a polygon, and moves incrementally towards the nearest adjacent point until they all converge in the centre. The path travelled is directly influenced by the points around it, so the final curves represent the effects all of the points have on one another as a group," he explains. On his Kickstarter page, he goes on to say that his project "celebrates humanity's ongoing quest for Peace, Freedom and Joy - in Life, Love and Art" aiming to "create an interactive and unique sculptural playground for visitors."
  The design forms three interconnected spaces that offer unique perspectives of their surrounding and interior spatial arrangements. Potter adds that this encourages "playful interaction" and allows visitors to climb up the and around the structure while also providing a "space for personal reflection and communal gathering." If Potter's $25,575 dream is realized, PURSUIT will be burnt to the ground when Burning Man is over, perhaps symbolizing the final end of the "pursuit."
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Energy strategist Sangeetha Divakar on the role of digital techniques in facade design

Digital techniques including parametrization play an increasingly important role in the work of many architects, engineers, and builders, especially those involved in the design and fabrication of high performance facades. "Parametrization is a critical path for facade design," observed Perkins+Will energy strategist Sangeetha Divakar. "A choice set of digital tools are being used to achieve this, especially when design options are optimized in response to several end goal parameters." Divakar will share lessons learned from her work in Seattle and elsewhere next week at Facades+AM Seattle. Her co-presenters on "Combined Modeling Efforts for the Optimized Facade: Models, Methods, Materials" include Morrison Hershfield principal Stéphane Hoffman and Richard Green, of Front, Inc. As someone particularly attuned to environmental performance, said Divakar, "What excites me the most in facade systems optimization now is that the line demarcating design parametrization and energy analysis parametrization is fast disappearing." But while the worlds of aesthetics and energy analysis are more integrated than ever, gaps remain elsewhere. In particular, Divakar pinpointed a need for "a direct integration of facade parametrization with engineering parametrization." Hear more about cutting-edge digital design tools including parametrization from Divakar, Hoffman, and Green on December 4 at Facades+AM Seattle. The symposium, a half-day version of the popular Facades+ conference series, features three sessions on hot topics in facade design and construction, with a special focus on designing and building for the Pacific Northwest. Learn more and register today at the Facades+AM website.
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SOM's Neil Katz on parametric modeling in facade design

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) associate Neil Katz describes his approach to crafting facades as involving a “computational design” methodology. In computational design, the architect generates solutions to a particular problem by first defining a set of rules and criteria for the model. Though the many tools Katz uses during this process include intangibles like “a desire to explore as many valid options as possible” and his office’s collaborative environment, in many instances he also performs literal computation—specifically, parametric modeling. Katz will moderate a panel on “Creating Complex Facades with Parametric Control” at next month’s Facades+ Chicago symposium. On day two of the conference, he and SOM colleague Joel Putnam will lead a dialog workshop on “New Techniques in Parametric Design." Parametric modeling can be the means to several ends, explained Katz. First, it can be used to explore a building’s massing, taking into account constraints like program, site, climate, context, and the overarching design concept. When applied to facade panelization, meanwhile, parametric control works with a different set of rules, including the relative flatness of the facade or the desire for regularity or other panel properties. Finally, observed Katz, “analysis and simulation, and visualization of the results, is also part of the parametric process—and can be a parametric process in its own right.” Katz’s affinity for parametric design is in part an outgrowth of his interest in programming. “Even in school, but especially when I started working at SOM, this ability became a natural part of creating models, and performing many of the tasks I was given,” he said. During the 1980s, as a design student enrolled in computer science courses, he was an anomaly. But that may be changing. “For many years, engineers [also had to have] some expertise at programming to do their work,” said Katz. “That’s becoming true for architects as well. I would say that most architecture students are now interested in acquiring and using this skill.” He has observed a similar shift among his fellow architects at SOM. “More and more, my colleagues are building their own models, and my contribution is helping to develop a strategy to make the model as powerful and flexible as possible,” said Katz. Like Katz, his co-panelists are working to solve some of the challenges inherent to parametric design, including the time it takes to perform the various analyses. Tristan d’Estrée Sterk, of Formsolver and ORAMBRA, is “currently developing a tool (Formsolver) which will allow architects to easily optimize a building’s form and material use as little energy as necessary,” said Katz. Matthew Shaxted will also join the conversation. Parallel.Works, the firm he co-founded, gives AEC industry professionals access to the computing power necessary to perform many of the analyses described above. “Parallel.Works does not create new tools, as Formsolver does, but allows people to use existing tools in a more powerful way,” observed Katz. Thornton Tomasetti vice president Hauke Jungjohann is the third member of the panel. A specialist in parametric modeling, form optimization, and digital information transfer, Jungjohann leads the Facade Engineering practice for the firm’s East U.S. Region. Hear from Katz, d’Estrée Sterk, Shaxted, Jungjohann, and other leaders in the field of building envelope design and fabrication November 5-6 at Facades+ Chicago. Learn more and register today by visiting the Facades+ website.