Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
tutors: Alisa ANDRASEK, Daghan CAM, Maj PLEMENITAS, & David ANDREEN.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Shahad Thamer AL-HADEETHI, AmirReza MIRMOTAHARI, & Joanna THEODOSIOU: The aim of this project is to create a system that hybridizes two natural systems, clouds and crystals, and simultaneously explores the aspect of light.
These rich domains with the introduction of small glass beads lead to an intricate fabric of architecture and moreover to a high-resolution fabric of light.
More specifically, physics of wind forces, structural growth of crystals, mathematics of voxel, goal oriented agent behaviours, as well as physics of light are the fundamental aspects for the composition of crystalCloud.
The design process starts with intricate formation of clouds evolving in global scale, due to physics of air dynamics, in order to distribute data in space and then the system is articulated by crystal growth, which is resembled by small glass beads, in local scale, to control light filtration, stability and textures. More specifically, physics of wind forces, structural growth of crystals, mathematics of voxel, goal oriented agent behaviours, physics of light as well as robotic fabrication techniques are the fundamental aspects for the composition of crystalCloud.
Our research cluster’s main focus was around syntactic constructability and the convergence of matter and information. Through material experimentation in the physical world, certain behaviours are translated into digital environments where they are explored through the synthetic capacities of simulation. The structure of matter should be designed in a way that results high-resolution fabric of architecture. These fabrics are explored with millions of particles, thousands of agents, which undergo certain physics in order to organize into greater spatial configurations. Besides the large amount of data articulation in space, the aspects of robotic fabrication should be taken into consideration, which could produce a holistic innovative approach towards architecture.
This project has had hints of sci-fi leading it through out its way, and the context it evolved in could relate to futuristic re-inhabitation of dead underground spaces that can one day become the new habitat for people living in metropolitans, creating a sense of solitude and a scape from the noise that surrounds them. The latter broadens the horizons of the research-based approach from extraordinary design synthesis to robotic manufacturing processes and develops a dialogue among them. Consequently we started looking into scenarios where we embed our system into abandoned underground spaces that can be redefined if more light is directed into them such as old mines or tube stations.
Eventually the pilot design proposal concerned an underground exhibition space that captures, reflects and refracts light and acts as the new entrance of the V&A museum. The intension was to create a maze, a sequence of spaces of similar formations but yet different, in terms of porosities and light qualities. The goal is to create for visitors the experience of walking inside a cloud, which perform as galleries, see the exhibits and at the same time experience extreme light differentiations through different formations. Although the space is designed as a maze in order to make people feel as if they are lost, it still embeds in itself directionality that guides people towards the museum main exhibition space through a sequence of light and shape.
In order to validate our proposal and to test whether a crystalCloud could ever be fabricated, the whole process was applied in an object of a smaller size with only 70,000 glass spheres to create a shape 180cm in width by 150cm in length and 100cm in height. The sculpture was constructed layer-by-layer, with an ABB robot and with the use of the HAL plugin, and then assembled for the B-Pro exhibition show 2013.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
ATA, AM, & JT: The two most important elements of the project, clouds and crystals as natural phenomenon, and their interaction with light; simulating complexity and agent-based design.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
ATA, AM, & JT: Reading: Steven Johnson, Emergence; a deep dive into Deleuze and Derrida’s worlds! Even into China Mieville’s novels! All sorts of sci-fi references. Watching: PROTO/E/CO/LOGICS/Day02—Ed Keller, “Agents of Revolutionary Time”—a very interesting lecture.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
ATA, AM, & JT: Marc Fornes, Ezio Blasetti, Michael Hansmeyer, Daniel Widrig, Factory 15, ScanLab, Jelle Feringa, and Davide Quayola.
Additional credits and links:
We want to thank all the tutors at GAD who helped us a lot, specifically Jose Sanchez and also Thibault Schwartz, who provided us a license for his Robot interface plug-in HAL. Thanks to Ezio Blasetti and Matias del Campo for inviting us to UPenn and conducting a crit with us.
Special thanks to our cluster tutors Alisa, Dagan, David, and Maj.