Architectural Association Athens Visiting School
Resonance :: Wander
Are you open to ideas that are different to your own, or are you hesitant to expand your creativity? The way that we experience the world in big cities becomes less tangible as we get ever more digital in our interactions. Imagine if we could combine the digital with the physical world, beyond a mobile screen, at the scale of a structure. And imagine if we could revisit the way that building materials perform based on their properties. What could happen then? Our built environment evolves continuously, it becomes an ever more interconnected hyperspace where architecture can be fluid, flexible and vivid. During the architectural programme in Athens, the “RESONANCE” agenda focused on designing a structure that would exhibit notions of materiality and of visual perception.
In particular the aim has been to create a pavilion-type partitioning system which can bear performative features and can be designed for interaction between the structure and the people next to it. To address this aspect the programme’s studio, under the direction of Alexandros Kallegias made use of computational, parametric and digital techniques to develop the form and the production of the partitioning system in 1:1 scale. Initially all participants were introduced to drawing techniques for generative design as well as aspects of materiality and methods to enable interactive design.
More specifically, the studio began with a series of basic and advanced tutorials on the use of the open source software Processing. This enabled the simulation of different visuals that would then be used for interaction with people. The interaction approach was done with the open-source microcontroller Arduino board. That was used for the coding and controlling of the sensor and activator devices. The programme included open lectures. During these lectures professionals from the Architecture Engineering and Construction industry addressed the topics of Engineering of Complex Geometries (by Nicolo Bencini) and of Qualitative Architectural Lighting Design (by Panagiotis Ireiotis). These lectures provided knowledge and a better understanding of the ongoing computational methods in architecture and their respective analogue and digital tools. Regarding the form of the pavilion-partitioning system, that was developed using McNeel Rhinoceros and Grasshopper. A number of basic and advanced techniques for parametric design were introduced to all the participants in the studio who then formed team and made a number of different proposals. All the proposals focused creating a hybrid playful area in the existing open space near the entrance of AKTO College. These initial proposals, described below, acted as graphic notations describing the logic of the design concept for the final architectural prototype, WANDER.
Being 2.25 meters tall, 2 meter wide and spanning a length of 5 meters the prototype WANDER was completed in a period of less than 5 days. This was made possible thanks to the commitment of the participants and their initial explorations with light-weight timber during the first phase of the programme. In these explorations, the wood veneer was used to create an emerging form that driven by the natural bending tendency of timber. During the fabrication phase, the sequence of assembly was two-fold. The load-bearing beams were connected separately while the flexible veneer components were pieced together into larger patterns. Finally the structure was created while fixing the two together. The partitioning system also included a set of towers that were created entirely out of veneer and were successful at being self-standing at over 2 meters tall. At the same time, an interaction setup between human and the structure was created with a stepper motor used for pulse simulation, and a projector used for projection mapping. The sensor would pick up human presence and initiate a pulse through the motor. Thanks to the flexibility of the veneer, part of the structure would bend for a moment and then revert back to its initial form. Together with the physical pulse, a mapped simulated pattern would get projected onto WANDER to evoke emotions through visual perception. As part of evoking emotions the studio also added a Virtual Reality (VR) component. Visualizations made with tutorials in 3ds Max enabled anyone with a headset to see the prototype and begin wandering around it from sunrise to sunset.
For the design and construction of our prototype WANDER, beyond the software and technical tutorials, a series of presentations and seminars were conducted on design theory and history. Among the topics the studio addressed the Gestalt design principles, the concept of associative modelling, the effect of perception and light, as well as aspects of material properties and the methods to change them. The architectural programme was completed in the summer of 2018 as a collaboration between the Architectural Association and AKTO Art & Design College, whilst making use of the school’s studio and fabrication spaces. Students from different backgrounds joined, formed teams and addressed the brief with their own unique design concepts as described here:
Zhaoxinyi Zhang, Jiaming Xu, Tasos Antonopoulos, Ezgi Nalcl, Melissanthi Panagiotopoulou
The Weaving Sculpture made use of the flexibility in the timber veneer to twine a number of stripes together and form a vertical structure. After exploring different weaving patterns and connection techniques the team created scaled prototypes. These lead to the making of a large-scale structure that is self-standing. The interaction scenario includes the expansion and retraction of the structure on its vertical axis, therefore changing dramatically its height at the presence of a person.
Tasha Tennant, Vasiliki Bacomichali, Ioanna Metaxia Gougougian, Lemonia Tsilimpokou, Jorge Ignacio Soto
Inspired by the mythological Medusa and her reptile hair, the team investigated patterns that would resemble the scales of a snake skin. Through modelling with paper and timber veneer they created a twisting pavilion design. Different techniques were introduced during the physical modelling as well as different dimensions were tested.
Aikaterini Patsali, Pavlos Symianakis, Siyu Shen, Jiatong Li
The team’s technique for design is based on packing. Packing produces stability through adjacency. It is a powerful organizational method that the team used in which the position of their basic tube element with its neighbours is determined by certain rules. These rules controlled the radius of each tube while considering its’ structural property. The element of light through the tubes’ opening acted as an interactive method with the people around their structure.
Athanasia Adam, Eleni Lampropoulou, Angeliki Moschovou, Stelios Polyviou, Afroditi Tzortzi
The proposal for the Parametric Pavilion is organized in two methods. The approach for the global form follows a circular dome typology with a central column. The column acts as a fixed element while dome gets the ability rotate around it. The second method is at the local scale, where the team created a series of transformable triangles that would bend and move when detecting with the presence of people.
Xuehui Yang, Mike Cao Yuan, Stella Allamenou, Eleonora Constantinou, Myrsini Syrigou
The design of the partitioning system in this case is driven by the Greek letter ‘Φ’ as well as the shape of the leaf. The team designed a self-standing structure comprised of components in the form of that letter in an arrangement of that of leaves. The global form of the structure follows the façade of the existing campus building in the form of the letter S. The components are arranged in columns that can rotate on their vertical axis while the flexibility of the material provided the team a load-bearing challenge in terms of the fabrication.
Aristides Mettas, Marina Andrioti, Eleni Chrysanthaki, Christina Anna Chatzopoulou, Haoran Wang
Team AAAA aimed to create a pavilion that is designed using a component in recursion. The concept is to provide the people who are the college with a more playful outdoors area. So the pavilion is designed in way that focuses on the existing green space. The component has a conical form to allow for directed views as one walks through the pavilion. For the aggregation of the components the team tested a number of different connection types between them.
10 days :: Duration of programme
5 days :: Design development, fabrication, assembly
40 hours :: Fabrication, assembly time
1 :: Mechatronics set (Arduino) + Projection mapping + VR set
5x2x2.25 m :: Timber partition system
Programme Director: Alexandros Kallegias
Akto Coordinator: Evangelos Kanellopoulos
Tutors: Daniel Zaldivar, Alexandros Kallegias, Yannis Efstathiou, Dimitris Mairopoulos, Efstathios Damtsas, Massimiliano Battisti
Teaching Assistants: Sevasti Pantou, Brigilda Deda
Students: Pavlos Symianakis, Jorge Ignacio Soto, Ezgi Nalci, Stelios Polyviou, Mirsini Syrigou, Eleni Lampropoulou, Afroditi Tzortzi, Aikaterini Patsali, Angeliki Moschovou, Athanasia Adam, Tasos Antonopoulos, Marina Andrioti, Lemonia Tsilimpokou, Metaxia-Ioanna Gougougian, Eleni Chrysanthaki, Christina Anna Chatzopoulou, Tasha Tennant, Vasiliki Bakomichali, Jiatong Li, Yuan Cao, Xuehui Yang, Siyu Shen, Haoran Wang, Aristides Mettas, Marina Andrioti, Christina Anna Chatzopoulou, Haoran Wang, Zhaoxinyi Zhang, Jiaming Xu, Melissanthi Panagiotopoulou
Photography: Sevasti Pantou, Brigilda Deda, Mike Cao, Alexandros Kallegias