Here’s a great project that came out of the Adapative Architecture and Computation programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture. ‘Adaptive Fa[ca]de’ by Marilena Skavara explores the functional possibilities and performative characteristics of cellular automata (CA). In addition to the unique emergent behaviour of CA, a neural network enables a further computational layer to evolve CA behaviour to the context of its surrounding environment.
Building upon the early work of Conway’s ‘Game of life’ and Stephen Wolfram’s extensive research on the wider implementation of CA, ‘Adaptive Fa[ca]de’ becomes a living adapting skin, constantly training itself from the history of its own errors and achievements. For a more detailed description of the project, read Marilena’s article for Vague Terrain.
Another piece of work from the Emergence Exhibition “Propagations” by Leo Nunez is a system of cellular automatons, made up by 50 robots. Different states emerge from this complex system. These states are defined not only by the interaction of the robots with the spectators, but also by the interaction of the robots with their neighboring pairs. I’ve been looking into CA based physical environments for a while with a few of my students who’ve been building them at the Bartlett’s Adaptive Architecture & Computation course (Marilena Skavara & Kensuke Hotta) but Leo Nunez’s piece deals with the interaction of CA systems in such a wonderfully analog way which is rarely seen today.
This work system also tries to investigate the man machine relation. The robots are unmanageable objects; thus, the control of these escapes the individuals and remains in the system itself, in the propagation of the information between the objects. The interaction of the users is mediated by a luminous interface keeping the body of the user away from the robots. This distance emphasizes the notion of the unmanageable objects, establishing a man-machine relation only mediated and more and more distant.
Each automaton is molded into a small robotic sculpture. The shape is given by the different electronic components necessary for its functionality. All the robots share the same electronic circuit design, but in their formality they are all different. Each cell or robot is constructed with Low-tech technology. This decision seeks to create a speech that establishes itself in a context of social criticism, generating an argument on the difference in the technology availability between the countries of the first world and the Latin American countries.
Leo Nuñez studied Systems engineering and image and sound design. He is currently finishing a degree in Electronic Arts at the UNTREF (Tres de Febrero National University, Buenos Aires). He works as a professor at IUNA (National University Institute or Art) offering programming and Electronic Art Workshops.
Following on from Ruairi’s recent post on the Gantenbein Vinery Facade, I thought it would be nice to draw attention to another very cool robo-technique – robotic perforation. Students from ETH Zurich have been working with Architects Gramazio & Kohler to create architectural screens based on different grids, variations and forms only realistically possible with some robotic assistance.
“Robots build! At their program in architecture and digital production at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich), the architects Gramazio and Kohler have installed a research facility that is unique in the world. It is based on a computer-controlled industrial robot that produces construction elements directly from design data. The robot works flexibly with a tremendous range of tools and materials.”
“With the help of algorithmic tools, we were able to manipulate the contours, dimensions, angles, and the sequence of openings, which could take any regular or irregular form.”
A bit of a ‘chicken or egg’ situation, I’m always interested to see how new techniques arise to make new design technically and economically feasible. Buying slaves to build your grand visions is so yesterday. Thanks robotics. I can’t imagine (nor hope) such techniques will ever replace human craftsmanship. They will (are) however opening some very interesting new doors.
In Fläsch, the winegrowers Martha and Daniel Gantenbein took advantage of the success of their Pinot Noir to replace their steel containers with oak barrels. They commissioned the architects Bearth & Deplazes with the design and construction of a new fermentation hall for twelve new containers. A wine-tasting lounge was to be located one floor above the hall.
The architects worked with Gramazio & Kohler on the facade, a double-skin of brick with polycarbonate panels on the interior. As they describe: “robotic production method … developed at the ETH Zurich enabled us to lay each one of the 20,000 bricks precisely according to programmed parameters—at the desired angle and at the exact prescribed intervals.”
Therefore a supergraphic composed of overlapped “grapes” could be created in brick in precast panels without the expense of numerous mock-ups or traditional masons. The wine estate in Fläsch follows the terroir principle. This principle states that the local colour – soil, microclimate, local traditions and the winegrower’s trademark – is directly reflected by the wine. A sensitive handling of space, temperature and light is therefore necessary. This was taken into account by the utilisation of special wall elements.