It's been a while since I've posted about something blobby -- for lack of a better term -- so when this "design research project on generative, computational form finding" by MRGD (pronounced emerged) landed in my inbox I couldn't resist.
Urban Lobby is the 2006 Architectural Association thesis project of Melike Altinisik (Turkey), Samer Chamoun (Lebanon) and Daniel Widrig (Germany). In it they investigate "the potential of fuzzy logic as a loose-fit organizational technique for developing intelligent, flexible and adaptive environments."
The project looks at the urban lobby as a contested and negotiated transient space, between public and private, work and home, transit and statis, etc. Interestingly, the team approaches their design by using an existing 1970s office tower (Centre Point) in London as the starting point for the new lobby, an apparent appendage that links the building to its context while infiltrating the existing at levels higher than the typical lobby's reach.
This sort of project is more about its process than its result. While images of the latter tend to be the focus in both print and online publications, the former should be stressed, as the form emerges from the process. While the description of the process on MRGD's web site is rather complex, the image below helps to explain one aspect of it: an investigation of the "self organizing behavior of the hair system." A number of variables were manipulated with a computer (of course) to derive images that could then be analyzed as potential formal processes for the lobby design.
It's well worth visiting the project web page to see the various animations and still images of the design's process and "final" form. It's a very thorough documentation of the project, aided in part by the computer's ability to generate images, but more so the team's drive towards generating "innovative works of architecture with an important urban, social and cultural effects."
While the project aims to break ground via the use of the computer in the design process, the team concludes by discussing beauty, specifically beauty vs. elegance. They say, "Both are quite different concepts. One is either beautiful or not. Technique comes to play its major role to transform what is considered not beautiful to beautiful similar to plastic surgery. It allows us to push towards beauty by producing elegance. Elegance is therefore achieved as kind of problem solving process, an ability to articulate complexity, and multiple agendas into a resolution."
Thanks to Daniel for bringing the project to my attention and supplying some images for this post.