• Synthetic Nature

    Vlad TENU, "Synthetic Nature."

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Vlad TENU: Synthetic Nature is a collection of prototypes born through holistic architectural design research into the genesis of form and space. The self-organization of matter, conservation of energy, equilibrium and notions of minimal complexity are concepts that drive the creative process—a symbiotic mix of design, art, and science.

    The analogy with the molecular behavior of soap bubbles informs the research, which involves nature-inspired algorithms, mathematical relationships and geometrical constraints. Focusing on periodic minimal surfaces, the design process challenges the concepts of multi-dimensional symmetry and repetition, creating modular structures that are infinitely expandable.

    The paradoxical character of Synthetic Nature is emerging from the computational side of the design process as well as the artificial materiality of the generated prototypes. Following the biological model taxonomy, the collection challenges the notion of artifact through creating a series of morphological design species. This research explores new spatial qualities, material effects and volumetric intricacy through continuous surface geometries, repetition of cellular components and skin topology systems.

    Synthetic Nature is a project about symmetry. Inspired by the mathematical principles of triply periodic minimal surfaces, the structures are infinitely expandable and they are all modular, being composed of identical sets of a minimum number of different components. From the pure computational form-finding of the geometries to the digital fabrication of the constituent pieces, the process includes several geometric parameters and constraints that are generating various different configurations. The final prototypes are only instances of such configurations, all of them having the potential to be extended or rearranged.

    Synthetic Nature is part of an ongoing design research on periodic minimal surface structures that initially started with a dissertation paper at the Bartlett’s AAC in 2009, entitled “Minimal Surfaces as Self-Organizing Systems,” subsequently developed and presented at the ACADIA Conference New York in 2010. Following developments of this research include Minimal Complexity, the winner of the Tex-Fab REPEAT Competition in 2011—exhibited at the LFA 2012, and MC/2—exhibited at “A Few More Friends” by Will Alsop at Testbed1 in Battersea, London. Synthetic Nature has been on show since July 2013 at Surface Gallery in Shoreditch, London.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    VT: Periodic minimal surfaces, Alan Schoen.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    VT: Reading Philip Ball.

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    VT: Ken Brakke.

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