The protoSPACE lab 2.0 in the iWEB has to close down due to the 2008 fire, which destroyed the Faculty of Architecture. In pring 2010 we opened protoSPACE 3.0 inside the walls of a new BK City. In the 2009 MSc2 course Hyperbody students designed a new protoSPACE 4.0 lab, a standalone pavilion between BK City and the Delft Science Centre. For protoSPACE 4.0 we developed a complete new building system based on an assemblage of large unique CNC produced building blocks. The prototypical building block we named protoCELL. The parametric protoCELL unit comes in a series of interacting function-specific swarms: daylight swarm, artificial light swarm, ventilation swarm, interaction swarm, heating swarm, display swarm. Each featured swarm consists of 10-20 parametric building components. The different swarms interact in a loose configuration, intermingling the specified functional units, but never betraying to which swarm one belongs. the units are CNC milled from polystyrene foam and coated with a strong polyurea skin. All building blocks of all swarms are structural as well as provide for insulation. The hundred large building blocks of the proposed protoSPACE 4.0 fit together like the unique pieces of a 3d puzzle. The gravity center of the units form the point cloud of reference points. The reference points are further specified as to form the details of the geometric relations between the units. Each reference points thus becomes a group of parametric related points.
Everyone has once been amazed to see how birds are flocking in the air. Much has been said about the simpe rules the birds are executing when flocking. The birds are constantly aware of their neighbours, avoid collision, keeping agreed distance, adapting to the neighbours direction, striving at a more central position in the flock. Their flocking behaviour has been modelled in simple computer graphics, back in 1986 Craig Reynolds [red3d.com]made a computer model of animal motion, scripting the rules for the creatures he named boids, based on three dimensional computational geometry. Why then are we interested in boids and swarms of birds. Why did I introduce the term swarm architecture back in 2001 during the first Game Set and Match Conference I organised at the TU Delft [hyperbody.nl]? My objective has been clear from the beginning: I wished then and still wish now to identify all possible building components as interacting elements building up bi-directional relations with each other. The idea of behaviour intrigued me because it would lay the foundations for an archtecture that is not static but animated in real time. Animated not as was described by Greg Lynn in his book Animated Form , who de facto claimed his license to kill the animation, but animated in its purest meaning, keeping the structure informed, much like the flock of birds. I concluded that there is no meaning in freezing the motion, I realized we needed to use actual ICT technology to sustain the information flow throughout the complete life-cycle of the built structure.
In 1998 we got commissioned by Nora Hugenholtz of Projectbureau Leidsche Rijn the design of a 1.6 km long acoustic barrier along the A2 highway, and we were asked to think about how to represent the commercial firms behind the barrier. We applied the strategy of multiple use of the ground, and proposed to embed a substantially bi building in the very volume of the barrier. In fact we considered the barrier and the A2 Cockpit building – as we proposed to brand it – as one continuous structure, only to pump up its volume where it was needed. Intuitively we combined many strategies into one coherent structure. Only because we described the project conceptually as one unified entity, we could take the logical consequence and develop one organizational structure for the whole project, including the flattened and cantilevering endings and the expanded Cockpit bubble. We came up with the concept to establish a point cloud of thousands of reference points. The points featured an exact position in space, which enabled us to write a script describing all constituting building components with high precision. It was unprecedented at that time, and still is unique that an architect actually controls the complex geometry in such high precision that the manufacturer – Meijers Staalbouw – can use the architect’s data for the CNC production. All components, steel, glass and rubber are customized to the extreme. Each and every component is different in its dimensions and its shape. The radical file to factory [F2F] process of mass customization was born. We have applied it ever since.
It is summer 2010, and it is only 14 years since I got my first cell phone using the GSM network, and it is only 16 years since I got my first email adress at the Well in Sausalito near San Francisco, a start up company run by Kevin Kelly. My first cell phone I used when we run the paraSITE project in Rotterdam, my first use of the Internet in 1994 to cater the multidisciplinary event Sculpture City. We were early movers among the international population of architects, simply because we were interested to apply new technologies in our profession. I purchased my first pc, the notorious Atari 1024ST, around 1988. I used it to model in 3d my design for the Theo van Doesburg exhibition in the Museum Boymans van Beuningen. Meanwhile Ilona used the Atari to sketch intuitively, exploring early 3d programs like STAD3D. During the years 1988 and 1989 we lived and worked one year in Meudon, in the atelier Theo van Doesburg. Before we came I purchased a fax-telephone machine, which did cost me more then 3000 HFL at that time, to communicate with the AA in London where I was unit master for Intermediate Unit 12 and with my client Evert van Straaten for the Doesburg exhibition in Rotterdam. As from late eighties and beginning of nineties of the last century we got networked with the world via Internet, cell phones and fax machines. We knew instinctivily that we needed to explore the potential of our new condition for art and architecture, which inspired us to organize a series of events: Artificial Intuition in Galerie Aedes in Berlin and TU Delft , Synthetic Dimension and Global Satellite in the Zonnehof in Amersfoort , Sculpture City in Rotterdam and the Internet , Genes of Architecture in Rotterdam, Vienna, Budapest and Berlin . After having experienced the promise of ICT in architecture and art, Ilona and I decided to build our practice of the fusion of art and architecture on a digital platform, enabling us to exchange information and raw data with many other disciplines, like composers, engineers, graphic designers. We felt that we just got to do it, as we know now, well ahead of our times.