archigram walking city ron herron

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Architecture, considering its various inputs and expressions is ultimately concerned with construction. It is a whole-brain profession, at its best making full use of left and right. The architect must negotiate real-world constraints and opportunities to arrive at a completed work. Construction is driven by the nature of the materials that are being put together, and regardless of the overall form its soul is revealed in the joints between those materials. The consequence is that an architectural paradigm shift requires a genuine revolution in the nature of materials employed and the means of their construction. Continue Reading…


michelangelo david replica forest lawn cemetary by dennis hill flickr

My suggestion for a conversation ice-breaker with Francis Coppola is to show him an image of Michelangelo’s David and mention Forest Lawn. It was there that the then UCLA student shot scenes for his comedy Aymonn the Terrible and gave an early glimpse of the qualities that would come to define him as a filmmaker. Through a combination of charm and audacity Coppola got around the cemetery’s strict ban on filming and then bartered to bring the largest film crane in existence to the location. The film was about a narcissistic sculptor. Continue Reading…


Tough economic times have a habit of stimulating periods of reflection. Since the start of this Great Recession there has been no shortage of mirror gazing amongst architects – at the systems of professional practice and the education that precedes them. For many the image has been one of crisis, as much economic as of confidence. For architects this comes after years of decline of authority, having given up team-leader Continue Reading…

The new directions that I am looking at revolve around the idea of simulation. My last post looked at how construction and fabrication technologies are used to simulate the elements of building construction and use. In entertainment design the elements of space are a means to a different end – the simulation of experience. As a result (and thank goodness!) people are at the centre of the action.

morgan freeman CG by Jose Lazaro Continue Reading…

In my last post I had a look at the bigger picture of challenges and opportunities for young architects in a tough economy. ‘Technology’ is the first of two more in-depth looks at the possibilities. Here the focus is on 3D, and specifically ‘intelligent’ 3D. Intelligence is what separates the old from the new as far as possibilities go – not just representation of a building but simulation of it. For inspiration we do not have to look far because the principles are well established in the field of industrial design. It is no coincidence that as architecture has become more organic (‘blobified’) we have looked to ID for the tools to realise our ideas.

How can 3D be made intelligent?:

Parametrics: Literally using parameters to define design forms and/or the development of a design form. Paramertrics are involved in form generators such as Grasshopper for Rhino (3-dimensional forms generated by algorithms) and the construction history of SolidThinking (the ability to modify a design form say 10 steps in by changing the first step and effecting a ‘ripple effect’). A simple architectural example is a door ‘system’ which is chosen once but then adjusts to different sized openings around the same building.

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Ten years ago Napster had just been launched and it was the beginning of the end for the recording music industry as it was known then. Its decline continues but a new model is emerging out of the ruins of the old - p2p, iTunes, Spotify and others are pointing the way to a new direction. Each is dealing a lethal blow to an established business model and they have precipitated a clear paradigm shift in the inudstry.
I cannot help but feel that a shift of similar magnitude is underway in the world of architecture. The beginning of the shift can be traced back to a particular date – not the demolition of a housing block – but a fracture in the global financial system. On August 6th 2007 American Home Mortgage Investment Corp filed for bankruptcy. A few days later French bank BNP sent another shockwave through the system and the credit crunch had begun. We are now almost two years in and the financial world has changed more than just about anyone imagined. The West has been the most careless and is now feeling the brunt of the pain but the phenomenon is global. Continue Reading…