Ivo CovicArchitect and Researcher
Ivo Covic presented the latest reasearch of EstLab at the Milan Polytechnic exploring the eastern countries – in particular Croatia - as a reference point for what Umberto Eco defined as the last avantguard: in the sixties the New Tendencies movement in Zagreb begun to imagine how the computer could alter our perception and today can still be seen as a progenitor of many current digital practices involved in the creation of new, common languages through technology. Zagreb and Milan was the main axis of this movement called New Tendencies which later became Bit International and gave birth to one of the first magazines specifically dedicated to interactive and digital art. At that time the relation between art and architecture was very strong at the time inasmuch around 60 to 70% of the artists were architects. Particular forms of prefabrication were brought forward specifically for the Yugoslavian regime of that time by progressive architects such as Bogdan Budimirov whose at the same time was cultivating strong friendships with the founder of the New Tendencies movement. The intersection between prefabricated architecture and these first forms of computational art were so interchangeable that often large prefabricated residential projects of the time were featured in galleries and art magazines. Trough specific examples and unique multidisciplinary projects, Ivo presented a European history in which practices ranging from architectural prefabrication to interactive facades and early computational art were coming together under a conscious territorial project of modernization: Zagreb was at the same time an experiment and propaganda. How do we bring today practices working at different scales, from the territorial scale to the art piece within a conscious network of exchange?
Clara OlorizArchitect and Researcher
AA Landscape Urbanism
How do we approach technology in itself? And how does it influence our agency as designer in a larger territory? How it affects the way in which architects operate? And how is it read throughout the scales? Clara Oloriz presented the concept of Manufactured Territories as an approach towards the landscape that understands the relationship between architecture and technology from the intrinsic greek ethymology tekne. Across differnt scales, the understanding of technology as a practical rationality governed by a conscious goal allows us to understand the materialization of a territorial intervention through the constant interaction between general principles, specific purposes, timeframes, economic contingencies and conflicts that inform dynamic formations. These multiscalar intersections and negotiations are something we term manufactured territories to emphasize the designer’s decisions and the machinic control of mutual interactions between landform dynamics and territorial conditions. It is here that the production of knowledge through technology in its braodest sense becomes more relevant; not in the division between exact and inexact science or in a methodological deployment of techniques that does not acknowledge a goal oriented rationality or in other words the agency, intention and implications of design decisions. So for us technology cannot be considered as a mere means of optimization or a solution to architectural problems; technology is for us a way of engaging with a specific condition through which principles are actualized or informed and design acquires agency.Clara Oloriz presented the work of her students in AA Landscape and Urbanism showcasing a number of experiments at the intersection between a strategy based on general principles and context related decisions. The work has been developed through the manipulation of a viable technology and its actualisation within a specific territory in time.
John PalmesinoArchitect and Researcher
Architectural Association, Territorial Agency
How do we frame research projects for architecture in order for them to meet the instrumental way that knowledge production is conceptualized at the level of the European Union? In his intervention John Palmesino suggests that we should consider the avoidance of instrumental knowledge and the instrumentalization of knowledge as our main practice. The organization of territories has always been in between the making of world systems (the economic, political and social structures) and the operations of the earth systems. Today the world system and the earth system are clashing: we are talking about a wide range of networks of geology that we can call anthropocene. If we consider that across the years we have a constant acquisition of information of the transformations of the built environment and the implications of that set of transformations onto the ambient – nature – we might see that there is a way in which architecture might start operating as an analysis of the actual forms of transformation of the world system. Operating through simple data compositions of the most intense operations of architecture of the last 30 years in Europe, Palmesino shows how the possibility of creating maps from scientific data sets but without the claim of reducing the original data set can start giving us a clear evidence of what architecture is doing and also how architecture can operate at a research level. The way in which architectural knowledge operates is not geared towards the hard breaded notions of data acquisition for a clear evaluation of outputs. The fact that architecture has been often pinned down either on the engineering side or in the humanities side I think is not a weakness of architecture, I think it is its very strength: this new geological ethos that we have is a good marker for the reinvigoration of our position. So this is a little talk against the instrumentalization of architectural knowledge in order to open up more questions than answers and to be clear that we shouldn’t act and simulate possibilities of backing up our claims with the same formalization processes of scientists and technologists.
Eduardo RicoCivil Engineer
Arup, Architectural Association
What if instead of working on a masterplan designers could be dealing both generic across Europe and specific to certain places/processes? How can we as designers act upon these given conditions in the case in which an answer cannot be given by a single masterplan proposal? How can you push analytical tools towards projective thinking rather than a descriptive single affirmative future? And finally, what kind of public or private bodies would engage which such a practice? Eduardo Rico presents student work from AA Landscape Urbanism in an attempt to provide answers to the above questions. The projects deal with a broad range of territorial conditions such as sedimentation management in river basins or coastline erosion. Key to their investigation is the idea that a territorial practice must take both natural and human patterns in account. We need to start thinking in terms of processes, change and transformation – thinking that in a way the territory is a result of conflicts – of natural and social scenarios. To do so, in our program we work with territorial simulations such as cellular automata as design tools– it comes to the question of which form of knowledge one needs when acting within and trying to understand the environment in such way. And given that masterplans are no longer apt to describe such conditions, also what type of documentation could we actually produce as designers in order to contribute to the discussion? Can a designer give inputs into the spatial character of a city within a political, social and economical negotiation process? How can we as architects fabricate interfaces which can be influential tools in decision making processes? In support of our design process, we developed a digital tool, a flexible interface which on the one hand allows you to control certain parameters of the project in its process of development and on the other allows one to visualize important variables which stakeholders may consult.
Gehry Technologies Europe
How does BIM change the way people organize across project teams and the organization between different trades themselves? Through her own experience on the new Louis Vouitton Foundation in Paris and the Luma Foundation in Arles (architect Frank Gehry), Lea Sattler presented a number of organizational workflows opening up questions about the potential democratization of the industry determined by the very nature of the design technologies involved. At Gehry Technologies we build systems and if you build systems you have to build objects and for each object you define what is its role and boundaries thus defining what are its limits and how it does interface with other objects. By using Digital Project and Catia we are able to create hierarchies to enable users to access information and to gather information together. Here at the Louis Vouitton Foundation we put in place a whole process to track each panel from design to fabrication – it was not a linear process and we had to find a way which would allow a large number of loops and feedback coinciding with the different speeds into which different trades were moving across the project development. BIM can also be the acronym of Bureaucratic Information Modeling: this is a job where we speak with people from 3d monkeys – people that model in 3d very fast and they don’t even know where the building is – to the directors of other firms with very transversal views of each trade. This is a political arena with fights between trades and client and architects.Today, the new word in BIM is integration: the issue is that people want to usually access all information at the same time. For this reason we try to keep a very high level of granularity of the information within the developed design systems in order to always be able to show or hide the necessary information to the rest of the project team.
Daniel BosiaDirector - Adam Kara Taylor
Diploma Unit Tutor - Architectural Association
Daniel Bosia presents a series of case studies in which digital interfaces provide a common platform to bridge gaps between professionals within both design and fabrication processes. Bridging the gap –a kind of life mission – of establishing connections within the design world in the construction industry. Having worked with professionals and artists of various sorts, I’ve come to learn that one of the key things that leads to success firstly to be very good at what you do, but also to be ready to establish connections with people that likewise do other things very well. One of the ways in which we bridged the gaps, is by establishing interfaces or languages which allow us to talk to people. In this regard, the digital has been the subject of long discussions recently, yet the way I see it is as an interface which allows different users to talk a common language on certain aspects of design. The kind of tools I’m referring to are design tools — tools of interaction which of course require another rift from digital to physical. In all my work I’ve always tried to establish a link between what we simulate as engineers and what others build with us. What engineers bring to the table is a certain rigor within the design process, so much that structure for me has always meant much more than its physical manifestation. It’s rather a kind of organization or the logic behind a certain process involving geometrical relationships between parts as much as the qualities belonging to the materials deployed. Here, The digital tool is no longer a tool of optimization and analysis as it used to be but t’s a tool of design and experimentation that is engrained and embedded in the design process. In AKT we try to combine form, pattern and structure within a single form-finding process. Likewise, a similar bridge that which we have tried to establish between practice and research, reason why I am heavily involved in academic activities side to my work at AKT. In this respect, Pavilion architecture and installations have always been of great interest to us, as they are fast projects and instances where you can test new tools and solutions.
Allard BokmaSenior Sales Manager
How can knowledge transfers between industries foster new forms of productivity? In his intervention, Allard Bokma shows how software development and advanced manufacturing techniques pertaining to the ship building industry have allowed CIG to enter the archtiectural sector as a progressive and highly competitive fabricator. CIG is a ship building company which started around 40 years ago as a producer of double curved steel plates for the local market in northern Netherlands. Although ship building and the maritime sector is still our biggest branch and amounts to 80/90 % of what our company does—we have our own shipyards, we have our own ships and we produce around the whole world—some years ago we started the archtiecture branch and other related sectors to balance out the fluctuations in the ship building market. The interesting thing is that in opening to these new markets, we brought along with us a our own techniques, softwares and expertise within a field where many of the technologies we used were by no means accustomed. So if, for instance, in the design process of ship building, already in the 90’s every element was threedimensionally designed, made visible within a model and had an embedded intelligence whereby at any moment one could extrapolate data such as weight, dimensions and many others, we tried to do the same with our archtiectural projects integrating the different parts of the construction such as ventilation systems and pipes within a single model. In this sense, the benefit of having us involved in an architectural project is that we can very quickly provide insights as to whether the projects are feasible both construction-wise and budget-wise from the the very beginning of the process. This but one of the big advantages of working with fabricators and their technologies from Day 1.
Jelle FeringaChief Technology Officer - Odico Formwork Robotics
Architect, Director - EZCT Architecture & research
If you do well in architecture you build one in ten projects, so the entropy of our profession is pretty massive. How can the renewed proximity between architects and means of construction enabled by the latest availability of both software and hardware technologies might become a gateway to escape this negative tendency? Showing work from his professional experience on design and manufacturing and historical precedents such as Jean Prouve and Sergio Musumeci, Jelle Feringa illustrates new opportunities and models suggesting the possibility of a new professional figure within architectural discipline. I wanted to remodel my practice revisiting Prouve’s lineage and becoming an architect with a factory, to create architecture as a product rather than a service. At the moment we have 12 robots employed in the factory and developing softwares. The great thing about working with robots is that it inspires innovation: you find the resources to do it it takes a week to build or two; you can ship it to where materials are sourced and the prototypes can be made instantly. Frank Lloyd Wright used to say that in order realise new buildings one should have new techniques. In order to design his projects, not only he was taking into consideration the material utilized but also the machines which would have to make them. The liason of architecture and technology is really deeply ingrained in the practice—there is no Duomo without the oxe driven gear mechanism that Brunelleschi designed. The cool thing is that materialization in buildings is moving away from a craft and is increasingly an intellectual endeavour. What I mean is that a robot fails once every 400'000 hours, mechanically this is solved. The question is how you generate code so that it is running continously the code. The intellectual challenge is today in the code.
Marco VanucciArchitect and Director - Open Systems
Diploma Unit Tutor - Architectural Association
Open Systems started in 2012 as an architectural practice working with both private commissions and on international competitions. At it’s core is an obsession with form and its generation. In the development of our work, computation plays a very central role—it allows is to understanding of geometry, material qualities, fabrication techniques, and how these can actually affect the way we design things. Deriving our procedures from nature, we have always been interested in principles such as differentiation, genotype/phenotype relations, relations part/whole and, more broadly, the idea of the environment as an active agent in the project. To explore these, we work with prototypical architectures where computation not only becomes the means to test ideas on a smaller scale, but more importantly establishes a direct dialogue between computer, fabrication and the organisation of things. Marco Vanucci’s understanding of architectural practice as a problem of engineering material organization focuses his research on the development of an integral and coherent design approach at the intersection of architecture, engineering and computation in the endeavor to develop generative and performative systems. OPENSYSTEMS, as the name implies, conceives every project as a systemic integration of all aspects within an open-ended, vital designed form. This vision is enhanced by the multidisciplinary design approach establishing fruitful exchange with a network of professional experts and consultants.
Arthur Mamou-ManiArchitect - Mamou Mani Ltd
Diploma Unit Tutor - Westminster School of Architetcure
Through the work developed through both his independent practice and his new Fab Pub in East London, Arthur Mamou Mani presented a number of projects characterized by independent digital fabrication and constrained by the scale of improvised fabrication spaces in inner London and small fabrication machines. I always start with small “bacteria” to convince my clients. Karen Miller have been commissioning us several projects and they keep calling us because they share our ethos between creative designers and makers. The power of fabricating your own components is that you can always show up at meetings and tell them: this is the piece and this is how it is going to grow. In this way, not only you can predict the budgets but you can also regularly send them samples and therefore control quality. We like to link the digital to the physical. Getting something very cheap out there is very important for us just because we are always planning to build every mock up! We produce a wide amount of instruction manuals in order to enable the construction of our prototypes also with people without any particular building skill, as in the case of our involvement with the Burning Man Festival.