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  • minimal complexity

    minimal complexity
    houston TEXAS

    suckerPUNCH: describe your project.

    vlad TENU: The project is the winner of the TEX-FAB REPEAT Digital Fabrication Competition.

    Minimal Complexity is the product of an architectural research focused on both the form-finding and the fabrication of minimal surface structures. The process was defined by an alternative algorithmic method based on the computational simulation of virtual soap films. The question that emerged was how the translation from the computational space to the build artifact could be embodied into this dual process.


    The algorithm is materialized through a concept derived from the principle behind the state of equilibrium of natural organisms – in strict correlation with the conservation of energy. Each iteration is programmed to update the relationships between the components of the system, reapply the defined rules and minimize the energy, in our case the tensional energy, in order to achieve a state of equilibrium. Accordingly, the system reaches an emergent quality of self-organization similar to one found in nature.

    Based on the properties of the triply periodic minimal surfaces, the fabrication side of the project is focused on efficiency through modularity and repetition of the components, as parameters embedded in a dynamic growth process. Following several prototypes at different scales, various material tests and structural configurations, the final piece is generated by only 16 different components, an optimum level of tessellation chosen in relation to the geometrical level of detail and considered feasible in fabrication terms.

    Minimal Complexity is composed of 148 identical reflected regions of 16 different pieces each, cumulating 2368 laser-cut aluminium components. Following a detailed structural analysis provided by Buro Happold, the assembly process commissioned and led by TEX-FAB was very interesting in experiencing the fact that the minimal surfaces have extraordinary structural properties, uniform distribution of loads and their stiffness increases with the level of complexity they reach.

    sP: what or who influenced this project?

    vT: minimal surfaces, self-organizing systems, soap films

    sP: what were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?

    vT: On Growth and Form (D’Arcy Thompson), Ella Fitzgerald, Underworld

    sP: whose work is currently on your radar?

    vT: Emergent Architecture, Kokkuggia, The Verymany, Zaha Hadid Architects

    Additional credits:

    Design: Vlad Tenu

    Fabrication and assembly: TEX-FAB

    Structural Analysis: Buro Happold

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