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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Life Size – David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang

  • On February 28, 2007

David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang of ‘The Living’ Architects presented their recent work at the Interactive Architecture event I organised at Eyebeam last month. They have just released 2 lovely little books called ‘Life Size‘ 1 & 2 which explore the possibility of creating open source design processes. The first volume of Life Size includes ‘DIY directions for making a responsive kinetic system, an energy self-sufficient display, and a collapsible framing structure out of weak materials.’ & the second volume of this series includes essays by Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Livia Corona, Holly Kretschmar, Seth Mnookin, William Wu and SISYPHUS.

Whats most interesting for me about David and Soo-ins work is their methodology they call "flash research," which they define as an architectural research project with a budget under $1000 and a ninety-day timeline, expected to result in a fully functioning, 1:1 scale prototype. To me this seems a challenging approach that forces you to consider low tech solutions rather than spending a fortune on answering problems often with unsustainable answers.

When interviewed by Metropolis Magazine David discussed how each Flash Research project is driven by a specific query. “The initial question for Living Glass was: What if architecture responded to you?” Benjamin says. “ We asked, What if good architecture and bottom-line development were the same thing?” Rather than simply creating computer models, they decided that to prove their solution they would need to test it, down to the exact thickness of the plywood or joint necessary for a design to be successful.

David and Soo-in run a graduate class at Columbia Architecture school where with their students, they continue to experiment with these ideas of rapid experimentation often in the context of responsive & kinetic spatial design. Check out their website where you can find out more about their projects such as living River Glow, a network of pods that act as an interface between the water quality of the river and local inhabitants awareness of environmental conditions and Living Glass, a silent transforming and transparent surface that responds to inhabitants proximity.

Also check out his video interview with David and Soo-in

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