Generative Architecture

I found a project by Joel Simon called Evolving Floorplans (via Kottke) which is all about the algorithmic generation of floorpans, specifically in reference to a school design. Evolving Floorpans is the first time I have seen a clear visualisation of an algorithmic architectural design, it’s quite beautiful.

Firstly I should note I’ve no experience in the writing of code such as for the alogorythm that Joel wrote and only an interest in the experimental zone of 3d architecture printing, so having said all that some observations;

Just programming for efficiency of circulation gave a remarkably ‘organic’ plan structure but maybe this is not be surprising given how things are designed ‘bottom up’ in the natural world.

The plans, optimised for traffic flow didn’t translate at all for classroom use, building usability or internal legibility. Square up the classroom sizes a bit and use something that errs towards more modern classroom layouts like joined classrooms etc and lab spaces. The structure was not addressed, and we probably shouldn’t kid ourselves that new structural materials or techniques will either come soon or deliver greatly enhanced results than right now. The hierarchy of the room types could also be factored in, ie. the gym and cafe of larger volume, environmental site factors accounted for. Joel already understands much of this though,

‘The metrics could be expanded to include terrain maps, sun paths, existing trees and other environmental input, allowing the buildings to be highly adaptive to their context. The physics simulation could force certain boundary shape constraints.’

Conclusions

If developed further this could easily inform outline design and progress until some baselines and agreements in the basic design have been set. It could provide very soon a tool to help the design team and Architects, how much further it could go I don’t know.

Links

Thread on reddit/architecture

Kaleva Church

One day in early spiring this year I was in Tampere for the day and had a couple of hours to spare so I thought I would revisit a great modern building that I feel is often a little neglected, maybe because it’s a little out the way or maybe because Aalvar Aalto casts such a long shadow over Finnish Architecture or maybe a little of both.

Kaleva Church by Reima and Raili Pietilä the result of an Architectural competition in 1959 won by Reima Pietilä and Raili Paatelainen and built in 1964-66. The building sits on a small hillock at the head of the convergence of two large roads both with postwar apartment blocks lining them.

The plan is immediately surprising and consists of a series of high and narrow concrete wings made from 17 35m high hollow concrete u shapes, with full height windows in-between.  Each of these concrete u’s are slightly different.

Malcolm Quantrill has written that the Kaleva Church is derived from the Christian fish symbol, generates a daring interior space, with the single-volume nave capturing a powerful, medieval sense of monumentality. I agree it captures a medieval like sense of monumentality but not about the fish symbolism. The fish symbolism appears to me to be a sop to the Christian church it houses, highly organic in nature it looks much more like a leaf. Look at the early sketches from the Pietilä’s and I think that seals it.

The massive concrete walls were meant originally to remain as bare concrete but I think that someone lost their nerve some part of the way through and pale sand coloured ceramic tiles were used to cover the building instead in an attempt to play along better with the apartment blocks it sits among. It looks a little like a poorly disguised Brutalist construction though I don’t think that label sits completely comfortably for this building. The central space and how it is conceived seems so inspired by nature and pays much attention to the play of natural light and space inside make it an exceptional building, one that inspires a feeling much like that in a medieval cathedral, although perhaps lighter and more naturally flavoured.

I know this building in Finland was a little controversial when it was built, some thought it to ‘natural’ and not modern enough or functional enough for the Finnish Architectural brand but as a church part of its function is to inspire and I find it does just this.

References:

Structures and Architecture: New concepts, applications and challenges´ edited by Paulo J. da Sousa Cruz’

Finnish Architecture and the Modernist Tradition By Malcolm Quantrill

Further Reading:

Pietilä’s Crystal for the Finnish President by Kati Blom

Gallery of Kaleva Church taken by me on Flickr

Kaleva Church on sosbrutalism.org

Amsterdam Chanel by MVRDV

When I lived and worked in Amsterdam MVRDV was one of my favourite Dutch Architects Offices, I loved their experimental bent and when I was back in Amsterdam in 2016 I saw their recently completed Chanel shop a refit of a 19th century Amsterdam town house.

The new shop front is a lovely play on the old brick facade and a modern glass fronted designer shopfront. The bricks of the old facade at the top slowly dissolving into the new glass ones of the shop front.

The shop is in PC Hooftstraat which has since I lived there has been a street for luxury brands and shopping situated beside Vondel park just outside of the old Amsterdam. It’s outside of the 9 streets or the old city main shopping lanes but thanks to that can probably accommodate an older richer clientele.

It is worth noting that increasingly Amsterdam is a major player in the Fashion world. Major brands have their world HQ’s there like Tommy Hilfiger the home of preppy US fashion is based in Amsterdam, and many others have  their Euorpean HQ’s there like Nike for example. The Chanel shop is a small piece of evidence for Amsterdams fashion chops.

Further reading:

Treet Tower

The tallest timber framed tower in the world (just now).

Treet or Tree in Norwegian is a 14 storey apartment block in central Bergen. At 49 meters its the tallest timber framed building in the world, although there are a few on the drawing board that if built would dwarf it.

The higher cost of the structure in wood as opposed to concrete and steel was able to be offset by the quicker and easier erection time, four storeys per 3 days and it also meets passive house standards. The building was erected in modules of 4 the already completed apartments slotted into the wooden framework as it was erected.

The exposed glulam structure front and back really makes this project, instead of hiding the structure at the ends they are on front and back elevations infront of the glazed balconies providing a striking feature for the building and also for the inhabitants of the tower.

all photos by ARTEC

Further reading:

Center for Systems Biology by Heikkinen-Komonen Architects

I have been a fan of Heikkinen and Komonen Architects for a while. As one of the few Finnish practices with an International profile, they practice a form of Finnish Rationalism in which clear forms and grids are often juxtaposed in compositions betraying a deep understanding of the program.  Their ability to create forms  and describe them with clear structures that are simultaneously modern are not at all cold.
The Centre for Systems Biology in Dresden finished in 2017 is a beautiful study in a three dimensional grid in which objects are offset within producing deep, comprehensible, and poetic spaces, even accounting for the fact the building is a laboratory. It follows their Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, also designed by them in 2001 also in Dresden.

Read moreCenter for Systems Biology by Heikkinen-Komonen Architects

Under by Snøhetta

 

Always it’s nice to see a clear idea translated so directly to a building under by Snøhetta is such a project. Located on the Southern tip of Norway in the village of Båly it is a concept restaurant that plunges under the water to put the diners almost literally into the sea, making it Europes first underwater restaurant and with 100 seats the worlds biggest one.

Read moreUnder by Snøhetta

Astroturfing Leed

leedexposed

LEED and BREEAM are the two competing certification schemes for ‘green’ building in Architecture. I have made a few BREEAM reports and have read a little up on LEED in case I should ever need to take part in certifying a building I’m working on. These schemes are a little bit of hassle and consume some time, also some points to gain credits in the scheme look a little easy to achieve especially considering the different regulations we have here in Finland say to the UK where the BREEAM scheme is based. But overall I think these to certification systems are fantastic. Why is that?

Well the short answer is that they add value to a project. The longer answer is that they add a layer of QA to the design that can be justified back to the client and contractor. It also allows the design team to quantify and properly cost environmental measures that save money to the project in the long-term but are often more expensive up front. They encourage environmental standards up and allow clients to better audit their assets down the line. These two tools in short should be used a lot more. They help make building more environmentally friendly and they help drive change not only in the building industry but in the way we use buildings.

They are gaining in popularity so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that an Astroturfing organisation has been set up in the USA to oppose LEED. The organisation is called leedexposed and thanks to Lloyd Alter at Treehugger and Sara Johnson at Architect Magazine the arguments they make have been debunked and the man behind the Astroturf organisation has been partially exposed to the light. The man behind it is Rick Berman, who appears to be able to say anything for the right price. I have a simple idea just boycott the companies who fund his company (and tell them why) here is the list.

OMA in Pasila

oma_pasilaOMA has teamed up with YIT one of the big developers active in Finland and submitted a design for the Pasila One competition. No one else tabled a bid so the city has a difficult decision to make and no reference group to refer to. The Pasila area has three basic redevelopment zones and Pasila One is the most eyecatching. It is the redevelopment of the train station and surrounding area, a large amount of service space and three super blocks worth of mixed use development three times the size of Kamppi in central Helsinki. The city wants to make it into a business and media hub, and clearly Pasila One sitting ontop of a crossroads between road and train access corridors has vast potential to be a great, busy, urban center ready to contribute an urban buzz to the surrounding area.

How good is the proposal though?

Links:

 

Week Review 6

Soviet era miners' cable car

Chiaturas’ extreme geography made the use of a cable car system widespread. Since the 50’s this soviet era system hasn’t had much work done on it.

In central Turkey, an ancient people dug, over 200 underground cities. The deepest of these, under the present day town of Derinkuyu, goes over 250 feet below the Earth’s surface.

Ross Langdon RIP.

The Brutalist masterpiece that is Preston Bus Station has gotten a reprieve from being knocked down.

Another post looking at mapping the age of buildings in different cities, a good overview here.