suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Gabriel MORALES-OLIVARES, Kate HANSON, Taylor McGRADY, & Abe GUTIERREZ: The established built environment perpetuates an entropy laden system that depends heavily on non-renewable resources. We set forth a holistic framework, embracing the needs of society and the capacities of technology, in which a renewable and recursive, high resolution, self-powered piezo-based synthetic ecology can flourish.
Current architectural practices approach energy as an external input with no finite limit to its usage. The disregard of the sensitive, energy intensive, relationship between humanity and environment has led to the ever-looming presence of global warming and tense conflicts over the usage of non-renewable resources. Though strides have been made in attempt to weaken the duress of the archaic energy systems, significant progress has been limited to applied systems.
From its nascent stages, the synthetic ecology recalculates the way in which the framework of architecture is organized and articulated. It examines the means by which natural self-replicating, self-repairing materials, such as piezoelectric crystals can be integrated to create an architectural materiality that generates energy under its own self weight and dynamic loading. In this system, entropy is capitalized upon as it allows the architectural system to order what would otherwise be lost energy. In turn, the architecture becomes a holistic system of a heightened resolution that can provide a sustainable, infinite source of energy.
To articulate and differentiate the energy-generating structure, Zero Energy Design Ecologies utilizes the computational power of cellular automata–based Grey-Scott reaction diffusion and multi-agent modeling to optimize spatial and structural performance based on site and programmatic data. The multi-dimensional control of a cellular automata Grey-Scott reaction diffusion provides a complex, controlled manipulation of voxelized patterns that can organize space in accordance with discrete spatial needs. Each voxel of information is then interpreted by a series of agents entering the voxel-space, allowing for behaviors to be articulated in the form of a custom, structural, architectural fabric determined by data input constraints.
In this method, the output is not a singular project for a singular site; instead, the design involves crafting a framework that addresses the needs of contemporary society. The design-research challenges the existing, segregated, kit-of-parts architectural paradigm through the pursuit of exploiting technological capacities to provide an alternate solution that articulates a spatio-organizational system that reflects the heterogeneous programmatic flux, or viscosity of contemporary society. A continuous, differentiated surface condition articulates spatial performance criteria within a larger field that extends beyond a singular function. This is exemplified when the framework is set forth to address the ever growing need for architecture to serve as an organizational mediator, which fosters the creative and intellectual social interaction between typically dissimilar programmatic needs. This need for symbiotic cohabitation of multi-variable programs—such as scientific and design research programs—provides architecture with the opportunity to mutate through the use of current technology to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas between innovators of contemporary society, through the delineation of viscous space. The architectural framework is then optimized via the intelligence of multi-agent modeling and additive fabrication techniques to embody flows of information, ideas, and energy at a variety of scales.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
GMO, KH, TM, & AG: Design Ecologies work was influenced theoretically by Kevin Kelly as well as Manuel DeLanda—specifically through the works What Technology Wants, Out of Control, and Philosophy and Simulation. The work of Nikola Tesla inspired the design research to focus on the means by which energy can be (re)worked into the architectural equation. With the idea of matter and energy uniting at its core, Tokujin Yoshioka’s Venus chair provided the inspiration to attempt to custom print architectural substrates upon which the energy generating crystals could grow. Moving beyond the homogeneous substrate, computation was used to develop an applet in which the Gray-Scott reaction diffusion could influence agent behaviors to simulate different substrate and spatial conditions. This would not have been possible without the work of Alan Turing, Casey Reas, and of course the development of Processing.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
GMO, KH, TM, & AG: While working on the development of Design Ecologies, compositions by Nicholas Jaar as well as many Pluie/Noir sets helped keep the design team motivated and focused. Gabriel ocassionally burst in playing Britney Spears to keep things interesting. Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants, as well as Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan and Manuel DeLanda’s Philosophy and Simulation were always at hand and were a core influence in the theoretical development behind the agenda of Design Ecologies.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
GMO, KH, TM, & AG: Architecturally and computationally, we have been closely following the work of Alisa Andrasek’s Biothing. Her work provided an inspiring foundation to many of the ideas pursued during design research. Moving forward with our newest ventures, Retinal Substance ++ d-e-s-i-g-n, we have been very interested in the scale, complexity, and resolution of design by both Iris Van Herpen and Alexander McQueen, and how this can extend beyond the execution of the personal prototype.