suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Category5 (lisa CUMMING, jorge MÉNDEZ-CÁCERES, drew MERKLE, & nada TARYAM): Category 5 is comprised of Lisa Cumming [NZL], Jorge Méndez-Cáceres [PUR], Drew Merkle [USA] and Nada Taryam [UAE], and formed within the ProtoDesign Agenda of Theodore Spyropoulos Studio at the Design Research Lab at the Architectural Association, School of Architecture. The premise of the studio was one that sought to challenge the means and processes of scientific research in adopting a self-organising architectural system that employs a bottom up approach to design. Through this method of design, we employed both analogue and digital models and simulation techniques in order to rigorously explore the potential of the prototype in architectural design.
“The role of the architect here, I think, is not so much to design a building or city as to catalyse them; to act that they may evolve.”
Gordon Pask, in John Frazer, An Evolutionary Architecture (London: Architectural Association, 1995), 7.
Architecture is heavy. Constituted by mass and matter it is as heavy in physicality as it is in procedure, with few operational exemplars of flexibility and adaptation. With a certain inherited sense of latency, architecture has acquired methodologies and procedures that propose it as a predictable, linear process-based means of providing spatial solutions for the daily and not so daily programmatic operations we undergo. Such procedural standardisation and stabilised outcomes have resulted in predictability where we really require novelty above procedure, adaptability above permanence.
We have an architecture of mass.
Based in Antarctica as an Antarctic research facility, Cloud10 is our response to heavy architecture. Cloud10 is an animated model of self-adaptive and environmentally-responsive behaviour. This airborne, inflatable architecture employs certain systemic redundancies and seeks stability in mobility and migration throughout the whole of the system of airborne urbanism.
As we make increasingly intellectual and instantaneous demands of our technology, we could (and should) demand more from our architecture; an architecture that is not predetermined in composition or organisation but rapidly responds to a number of conditions, operating within a system of parameters and employs an efficiency in materiality modelled off nature itself. What we demand is architecture of lightness: where mass is air.
The architecture becomes its own ground plane meaning stability is now self-referential and adaptability is site-referential. In arguing for a mass-less architecture, we argue for the notion of a synchronised and systematic collective, constituted by a network of task specific units, embodied in natural phenomena such as the siphonophore and slime mould. Specifically, we propose an airborne architecture situated in the airspace of Antarctica to facilitate research expeditions within the fields of meteorology and climatology. Such a brief demands that the architecture be light and adaptive to extreme and fluctuating conditions and evolving research expeditions. Antarctica already has an operational research network comprised of static research hubs. Cloud10 is an airborne system that acts to compliment rather than replace the existing architectural infrastructure. This means that the existing infrastructure does not become redundant but can relieve the Cloud10 system of particular service and storage burdens that would otherwise compromise or limit the operation’s pragmatic abilities and potential.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
Category5: Buckminster Fuller, Minimaforms, , Tomás Saraceno, Eiko Ishioka, Iris Van Herpen, Issey Miyake.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
Category5: Watching: BBC Frozen Planet, Mad Men, The Cell, and The Art of Flight. Listening: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, My Morning Jacket, Cut Copy, Florence + The Machine, Tiger Love, La Roux, Dale Earnhardt jr jr, Empire of the Sun, Lykke Li, Metronomy, Kavinsky, Foster the People, Duran Duran, The Black Keys.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
Category5: Howeler+Yoon, Tom Wiscombe and Emergent, Michael Maltzan, Gramazio Kohler, Daniel Widrig, Reiser+Umemoto
Additional credits and links:
Tutor: Theodore Spyropoulos, MINIMAFORMS