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Sand Babel. A project of 3D printed skyscraper by Qiu Song (2014)

Last revised 10/14/2014. Return to Major concepts. See materialization.
The web site Archiguide is a large catalog of contemporary architecture.

The eVolo magazine has also many books on line.

All the digital oriented architects we know of are listed in our Index, with direct link on their Diccan's item. On summer 2014, we list some 70 artists, to which could be added the works of multimedia artists, for which graphic aspects are generally and important facet.

We concentrate here on conceptual considerations and the state of the art. The historicaldevelopment of the field is described, period after period, in our history of digital art

Recent reference: *** Architecture numérique 2 volumes Nouvelles applications - Nouvelles technologies. by Dimitri Kottas (ed). Links 2013.

Vitruvius, the canonic basis of architecture in antiquity, and then from Renaissance to the industrial age.

Architecture has, by all times, included computation and representation, nor forgetting the need of machines in the realization process. So, it is somehow digital from start, through ratios, canons and other "golden section". Besides, as shown by [Thibault] its practice takes to some level of "elementarization" in the design and the realisation, be it for aesthetical reasons (canons) or practical (standards). Hence we have just one step to elementarization and computing automation.

Architecture is widely determined by functional characeristics, from cost to ease of use and adaptation to specific functions, private and public The computer could take its part in the analysis of needs/aims and their progressive materialization into a concrete structure. Unfortunatelyn there is little documentation on this aspect. The architecture books and magazines deal nearly only wih aesthetic considerations and beautiful picteurs, without much comment.

From Vitruvius to 3D printing

Le Modulor, by Le Corbusier. A summit in efforts to define numerical canons.

As for the 20th and 21th centuries, the minds change about the machine induced style. Bauhaus et even more Le Corbusier combine the machine idea, the use of concrete and rectangular/linear asceticism in favor of a functionalist view. This is "modern" architecture.

Modern architecture will find its limits, for two reasons explained by Charles Jencks (The language of post-modern architecture, New York, Rizzoli 1977-1987) :
. On the ground, the failure of a rationalism which is two less concerned with human realities. The faileur is definitively marked by 1972 In Saint-Louis (Missouri), when several Pruitt-Igoe blocks are dynamited.
. In the studio, computer and information technologies allow at the same time a reduction of costs by mass production and a widened design space, similar to craftmanship and better accepted by the staff. A typical example, in France, is given by the realizations of Ricardo Bofill in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines and Marne-la-Vallée.

Rich Smith digitizing a Gehry model.

A second wave reaches farther : it sees the computer (and still the concrete, but also new materials, deeply textured) the means for creation of dramatically new forms and the possibility of "exploring a new form featuring continuity and smooth transition".(Antoine Picon writes (p. 77), about Greg Lynn).

Impressive evolutions from the cubic patterns of the Bauhaus or Le Corbusier to organic/complex forms of today. They are geared by the design power of computing, then of manufacturing/casting tools.

In the 1980'sFrank Gehry marks an important step in this evolution. He keeps creating mostly with cardboard models. But these models can be digitized into computer models. That brings precision, computability (then reliance on the structures resilience) and ultimately fabrication. But he keeps thinking and designing with cardboard models. The digitization comes in a second stage. Jim Glymph, who gave Gehry the tools and technical assisance, says clearly "I wanted to preserve his way of creating" (we cite from memory after the film projected in Pompidou Center).

Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Fhe forms are directly inspired by the design process, from cardboard to digial models.

Then the digital modeling drills deeper in the architect's creative approach, from the initial images to the more or less roboticized construcion, through formal research, collaborative work and material production, It's impressively told in (only in French, as fas as we know) Architecture numérique 2 volumes Nouvelles applications - Nouvelles technologies. by Dimitri Kottas (ed). Links 2013.

Kottas gives a typical example with OTA+ (we copy directly from their English website, but the full text is worth a click.):
" For our Off/Grid House project in New Mexico, our office worked cooperatively to produce an extensive catalog of formal versions; each offering different spatial opportunities. Like the Surrealist game, everyone in the office took turns building and/or modifying a digital model. [...]

"Variation of the parameters... allowed us to fine-tune the form and accommodate the functional requirements of the house. The specificity of each selected part afforded by versioning allowed us to solve issues unique to a particular condition of the project. [...]

OTA+. Design stages.

"The forms that were both spatially provocative and best matched the needs identified in the codified index were actuated in the final house design. Requirements that were seemingly incompatible were matched with equally complex models, capable of handling multiple needs simultaneously. What started as a willful exploration of formal and spatial models subsisting in a state of limbo, became a realized set of integrated units indispensable to the project."

Intelligent,interactive, living... buildings: still more a dream than a reality

Evolution is going farther with even more biologically inspired architecture. Here also, that impacts has well the creative process (biologic images, if not fantasies) that the final construction, going up to 3D "printing" withe the SandbabelSong project (See picture on top of this page).

More in surface, architecture is gettinf life with projection mapping (see video).

OTA+: Off-Grid-House, the result.

Architecture could be a major way into the future of digital art. Would it be only by the fact that an architect is by necessity a team leader. First in the studio, which demands different kinds of talent. Then on the ground, where building requires considerable labor as well as material means.

On the other hand, the new buildings do not integrate interactivity or "intelligence". At least in the architects discourse. "Smart builidings" were a fad in the 1980's, and futuristic images promoted wiring, interconnection and automation (notably for temperature regulation and access control). These topics are not much in air today.



Some more info:

More and more biological, here, a Wiscombe project.

- Deconstructivist architecture, see Wikipedia. It's a form of post-modernism. Computers widen the liberty space of the architect up to malleability. For some artists in this specialty, digital techniques matter : Jakob&MacFarlane, Coop Himmelb(l)au who are invited in Lyon Confluence show. According to the flyer of this expo, the stars in this field are Peter Eisenmann, Zaha Hadid et Frank Gehry.
- "On his computer's keyboard, an architect could well look like a driver or a passenger engaged in a new journey, with a new kind of experience". [Picon] p. 150 (our translation).
- "Digital architecture aims to establish a similar confusion between abstract and concrete, when it dives more and more deeply in algorithmic programming while trying to engage a tactile relation with the user". [Picon] p. 158
- "The most immediate transformation could well be the demand to be more explicit than yesterady, in the design process timeline". [Picon] p. 163.


Tandis que le baroque demeurait, malgré ses transgressions, l'héritier de la croyance de la Renaissance en des principes d'ordre et de proportion censés conférer à l'architecture une perfection aux résonances métaphysiques, l'architecture numérique prnd ses distances à l'égard de toute quête de la plénitude ou de la perfection... En réaction au goût du postmodernisme pour les symboles clairement identifiables... certains vont jusqu'à refuser toute signification qui procéderait d'une source extérieure à l'architecture" [Picon] page 77.
Lyon Confluence : "Our town combines harmoniously the dynamics of a urban hypercenter and the balance of a district where everything is accessible".




- Paradigms in Computing: Making, Machines, and Models for Design Agency in Architecture, by David Jason Gerber and Mariana Ibañez (Eds). "A seminal book that interrogates the field of architecture through the lens of computing". eVolo 2014.
- Various data and pictures in [Lynn 2013], about Peter Eisenmann, Franck Gehry, Chuck Hoberman and Shoey Yoh.
- See [Berger-Lioret 2012] pp. 26, 79, 182, 83.
< Mathematics of Space. Guest editor. George L. Legendre. AD, Architectural design, july-august 2011.
- An article in Archée, by Stefania Caliandro , (9/2011)
< Computational Architecture. by Asterios Agkathidis. Bis 2011.
- Une architecture, by Zaha Hadid. Institut du Monde Arabe 2011.
< The new mathematics of architecture. by Jane Burry et Mark Burry. Thames & Hudson 2010.
< La carte et le territoire, a fiction by Michel Houellebecq, Flammarion 2010. Several pages deal with modern architecture.
< Architecture et design contemporains. by Jakob Krauel. Links Books 2010.
- La géométrie des émotions, by Estellle Thibault (Mardaga 2010). The architecture scientific aesthetics in France, 1860-1950
< Conception et fabrication numériques. Architecture et design contemporain. Jacobo Krauel. Paris, Links 2010 c.
< Culture numérique et architecture, by Antoine Picon (Basel, Birkhauser 2010). From the 1950's to now.
< Interactive architecture, by Michael Fox and Miles Kemp. Priceton Architectural Press, 2009. "In this book, interactive architecture is positioned as a transitional phenomenon with respect to a movement from a mechanical paradigm to a biological paradigm".
< Xenakis Iannis : Musique de l’architecture. Textes, réalisations et projets architecturaux, choisis, présentés et commentés by Sharon Kanach. Paris, éditions Parenthèses 2006.
< Verb Matters, by Manuel Gausa et al. Editions Actar 2004. (contemporary architecture and digital art) and [Kemp].
> Prospective in Asti 2001 proceedings. Saying for instance : "“ Tout comme la technique du béton n'avait pas eu d'influence sur l’architecture a ses débuts, celle-ci a récupéré l’informatique dans son système de valeurs mais ne s'est pas encore posé la question de savoir en quoi elle pouvait remettre en cause la notion même du projet. De ce fait, il n'existe actuellement pas de réelles différences entre les bâtiments travaillés avec ou sans informatique: c'est elle, cependant qui va déplacer le champ de la conception en architecture… ”
< L'Experience Music Project de Seattle. by Mireille Boris. Pixel, June 1999. On line (in French).
< Pratiques architecturales et enjeux politiques. France 1945-1995. by Jean-Yves Andrieux and Frédéric Seitz. Picard 1998, The political side
- Between the two World wars, many books from Bauhaus and Le Corbusier.
< Vers une architecture. by Le Corbusier. Paris, Crès 1923. Edition poche Flammarion 1995.
< Urbanisme. by Le Corbusier. Paris, Crès et Cie. 1925. Paperback edition Flammarion 1994.
-< La fragmentation et la dématérialisation comme points de convergence, a long paragraph in L'anomalie sauvage de l'architecture, an interview of Patrcil Goulet by Chantal Béret, in Art Press, June 1989.
< Modulor. Essai sur une mesure harmonique à l’échelle humaine applicable universellement à
l’architecture et à la mécanique
. by Le Corbusier. L’architecture d’aujourd’hui, 1950.
< Modulor 2 . by Le Corbusier. L’architecture d’aujourd’hui 1955.
< La formation de Le Corbusier. Idéalisme et mouvement moderne. by Paul Turner   Macula 1987 for the French translation. About Le Corbusier and his sources of inspiration.
See also :
< The ten books of architecture. by Vitruve. PDF online.Antiquity: this book dates back to the first century of our era.





Paris ACM Siggraph, the French chapter of ACM Siggraph, worldwide non-profit organization of computer graphics.





Galerie Charlot An important supporter of digital art.