12 April, 2010

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop 2010 Barcelona

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop 2010 took place between the 19th and 24th of March in Barcelona, Spain. Students and tutors from the School of Architecture of the University of Patras were there. (reportaz)

By Stamatios Giannikis

Greek version

IaaC flag with the robot KUKA holding an 'Explicit Brick'

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop 2010 took place between the 19th and 24th of March in Barcelona, Spain.

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop is the worldwide meeting of Smart Geometry Group (SG) a non-profit organization formed in 2001 with the goal to encourage collaboration between AEC professionals in Practice, Academia and Research who are interested in/using computational and parametric approaches to design.

The first SG event occurred in July 2003 in Cambridge, UK and since then six more SG events have occurred in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada (2004), Cambridge, UK (2006), New York, USA (2007), Munich, Germany (2008), San Francisco, USA (2009) and Delft, The Netherlands (2009).

SG Group is considered a leader in the field of computational and parametric approaches to design since some of the world's leading architectural and engineering practices (Foster+Partners, KPF, Grimshaw, Arup, Buro Happold) and educational institutions (Architectural Association, MIT, Delft Technical University, University of Bath) are represented in its core organization.

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop 19-24 March 2010 Barcelona

Smart Geometry 2010 event was composed of three sections: Workshop (19-22 March), Shop Talk (23 March) and Symposium (24 March).

Around 100 participants between the age of 23 to 35 with a diverse educational and professional background (mostly architects and engineers but mathematicians and programmers as well), coming from around the globe formed the 10 working units or clusters of Smart Geometry Workshop 2010. Each cluster had a different field of investigation and was headed by tutors coming from the above mentioned institutions and architectural and engineering practices as well as young, emerging architectural practices like Facit, Robofold, Evolute.   

Christine Byrne, media relations manager of Bentley, developer of Generative Components (GC) software and the principal sponsor of SG events, described that, in the past, SG events frequently took place in conference rooms of five star hotels. This year though a difference kind of environment was selected for the SG Workshop to occur and that is IaaC (Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalonia) in Barcelona. The building of IaaC is a large, tall, industrial space with a very well equipped workshop: two 3D printers, a large bed laser cutter and a large bed milling machine form part of the equipment of IaaC's FabLab.

According to Shane Burger of Smart Geometry Group, the reason for this shift is explained in the event's title 'Working Prototypes'. This year's Smart Geometry is the first Smart Geometry event that goes from digital testing of parametric prototypes to physical construction and testing.

Of the most interesting clusters in the Smart Geometry Workshop at IaaC were 'High tech design-Low tech Construction', 'Design to Destruction', 'Explicit Bricks' and 'Parametrics and Physical Interaction'.

Cluster 'High tech design-Low tech Construction' by David Kosdruy and Juan E Subercaseaux of KPF developed a low tech module (a slotted plywood square) that is used to construct complex form structures. The intelligence of the system is in the labeling of the modules. Even though each module is identical to each other elaborate structures can be built by untrained workers on site with out the use of shop drawing simply following the connections described in the label. Even though a super time consuming technique the device is a break through into parametric design where usually all modules of the structure are slightly differentiated and requires increased capabilities in shop drawing reading, this is a simple to follow technique to build elaborate structures.

High Tech Design - Low Tech Construction in the process of building

In 'Design to Destruction' by Sam Conrad Joyce and Dr Al Fisher of Buro Happold the team digitally designed, fabricated with a laser cutter, tested the load bearing  capacity and charted the results of intricate, lacelike mdf beams. Not a break through but still a concise investigation and an amusing event in the context of the Workshop. While the lace beams failed under the weight of heavy load, crash noises filled the enormous space of IaaC.

Sam Conrad Joyce and Dr Al Fisher of Buro Happold and students while testing the load bearing capacity of the intricate laser cut plywood beams from cluster Design to Destruction

The cluster of 'Explicit Bricks' by Tobias Bonwetsch and Ralph Baertschi of ETH designed and manufactured an open top dome made out of polyurethane blocks.  The structure was digitally designed and in theory would be completely robot constructed thus simulating the possibility of digital design to construction in the building industry without the use of shop drawings or physical human labor in the process. In reality the dome was assembled by the team but the 'explicit bricks' themselves were indeed constructed by KUKA, a joint-arm robot, at a hot wire cutter.

The dome being constructed from cluster Explicit Bricks

'Parametrics and Physical Interaction' by Hugo Mulder of Arup, Flora Dilys Salim of RMIT and Przemek Jaworski  of Foster+Partners designed and implemented plug-ins for parametic design software that bridge and simulate parametric relationships between the virtual and physical reality.  One of the structures built by this cluster was a weather shelter composed of operable triangular fins that open or close (shadow or not) depending on human presence underneath them. Another structure built was a 3D printed object which was shaped by incoming information in real time from twitter.

The team of Parametrics and Physical Interaction working on the operable shelter

The Shop Talk and Symposium took place at Petit Palau of Palau de la Musica, the ornamental building by Lluís Domènech i Montaner- typical example of 1900 Catalan modernism.

The panel 'Make Sense: Learning How to Learn' at Shop Talk day in Petit Palau

Shop Talk day was built around the idea of reflecting on what had been accomplished during the workshop and where the discipline is headed so many of the Workshop tutors were also Shop Talk speakers which presented their outside work along with the work produced during the Smart Geometry Workshop. Among Shop Talk speakers were Panagiotis Michalatos from Adam, Kara and Taylor and Martha Tsigkari from Foster + Partners. Mr. Michalatos presented a digital tool which had no specific purpose but its ability to help us learn how to learn. Ms Tsigkari spoke of tectonic prototypes and their inherent inability to scale their attributes.

The garden above Petit Palau were the Smart crowd mingled during lunch and coffee breaks

The Symposium was a more formal event hosting lectures from leading professionals from various fields from around the globe such as Mark Burry of RMIT, Hanif Kara of Adam, Kara and Taylor and Marta Male Alemany currently MAA Director in Digital Techtonics at Iaac.

Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop 2010 was concluded on Thursday morning the 25th of March with a tour at the construction site of Sagrada Familia by Mark Burry, professor at RMIT and consultant architect to Sagrada Família since 1979. The visit to Sagrada Familia was of special importance to the workings of Smart Geometry since its design is based in the principles of parametric design. It should be mentioned that Sagrada Familia, the most time consuming and expensive work of now celebrated Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi started to be constructed in 1882 and it is expected to be completed by 2026.

The School of Architecture of the University of Patras at Smart Geometry 2010

Second year undergrad students from the School of Architecture of the University of Patras along with their tutors George Antoniou and Stamatios Giannikis visited IaaC on Monday the 22nd of March 2010 as part of the school's studio trip to Barcelona. The students were toured at IaaC by Areti Markopoulou, IaaC's Head of Academic Coordination, and at the works of Smart Geometry Workshop by Ron Kuhfeld, Bentley's Public Relations Manager.

The school of Architecture of the University of Patras at IaaC with Areti Markopoulou

Paper Analog Parametric Design and Fabrication Workshop

On the occasion of Smart Geometry Conference and Workshop 2010 Stamatios Giannikis, MArchII Harvard/ Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Patras and Areti Nikolopoulou, MAA IaaC/ Architect organized on the 24th of March a hands-on, parametric workshop hosted at corretger5.

The work in progress at corretger5 by Stamatios Giannikis, Areti Nikolopoulou and the students from the School of Architecture of the University of Patras

The product of the workshop was inspired by and reminiscent of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia catenary models only made of bright white-orange paper. Participants of the workshop were: Eleni Antonelli, Malvina Apostolou, Matilda Apostolou, Maria Aretaki, Aggeliki Diakrousi, Sophia Zazani, Antonia Koukouvelou, Christina Kiriakou, Panagiota Reppa, Marios Chatzichampis. Jose Perez de Lama, Profesor Ayudante Doctor at the University of Seville and Manuel Gutiérrez De Rueda García, Profesor Asociado at the University of Seville were invited as guest critics at the workshop. The work produced by the students was exhibited to a follow up, open to the public exhibition.

The final product at corretger5 by Stamatios Giannikis, Areti Nikolopoulou and the students from the School of Architecture of the University of Patras

Design to Destruction.MOV
 Τesting the load bearing capacity of mdf laser cut beams by the 'Design to Destruction' cluster at Smart Geometry 2010


For more information:

Robot cutting foam blocks

SmartGeometry 2010 in Barcelona
Timelapse of the main workspace at IaaC


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