SmartGeometry held in Copenhagen was all about architectural research. The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture brochure states that one of the most important purposes of architectural research is to “develop new models for the way we build and design the world in a time characterized by new technological possibilities and great challenges.”
Day Six of SmartGeometry (sg2011) in Copenhagen kicked off with a talk by Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen, professor and head of CITA, on the topic “Materializing the Invisible.”
She said they have built a series of speculative models in textile design, where they made iterative models over and over again, so they can return to one single description to bring together as one soft shell construction.
They learned two things from doing this: the unfolding of the complex surface is very complicated to do with the computer but extremely easy to do with your hands, “the simplicity is immediate to me,” she said. “The relationship between the digital and craft is not necessarily immediate. The drawing changes in its role; rather than thinking of drawing as a section cut, it becomes a section, the detailing and creases are inscribed, it’s the way the material is given its performance.”
The parallel project for this is “It’s a Small World,” which is an exhibition they were asked to create to show something all the way down to small design. This is about how to organize models and they used fractal order to achieve it.
“Our interest became how we could organize different elements, trying to develop a model that performs. Using GenerativeComponents, we developed a parametric design environment that could take us from design process all the way through to fabrication,” said Thomsen.
It’s A Small World created an economy that really isn’t present in research. They implemented non-traditional design practices to make new use of old materials. These surfaces were highly inhabited. “Therefore there was a rift between systematic thinking of these structures and the design intent of the curators. We had to adjust the way we were working with these structures,” Thomsen explained.
Another research project, DevA, investigated the structural behavior of bent steel sheet and how it be used in architectural design.
In contrast, Lisa Amini, director, Smarter Cities Technology Centre, IBM Research, Worldwide Smarter Cities Program talked about her program which she is building from the ground up. She quoted Steven Spielberg: “Invisible infrastructure is the most radical change.”
“The economies of scale are in cities,” said Amini. “We believe this is where people will live.” It is therefore prudent to design for data, and have your designs be influenced so they can collect data, to be able adapt to missions and the environment.
She sees a “Citizen centric vision” where citizens use mobile devices to collect data and will become very active data producers.
Ben Van Berkel, founder of Unstudio, talked about how the architect can rethink his position. His organization is a specialist organization that specializes with specialists around it. He spoke about the Mercedes Benz Museum 2001 for which there was a short time to design and build it. Used on this project was an animation technique could make 300 changes within the 3D model so people could stay working on the development of the model, and everyone updated the same day. So the need for compactness made it possible for those involved in the project to rethink the project.