Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Lightbox - Art Fund Pavilion Competition

This is our (Saif Almasri, Suryansh Chandra) entry for the recent Art Fund Pavilion competition. It was quite a thing to shift to a 35 square metre pavilion after doing a 12 square kilometer city, but then the difference was also 3 days of rapidfire design over 16 months of intensive exploration and research. The brief was to cater to the following requirements:
  1. The pavilion was to be assemblable within 72 hours,
  2. The only material to use was 18mm or 25mm thick plywood. With cables/nuts/bolts/etc. for joinery,
  3. The pavilion needed to be collapsed, transported in its compact form, and reassembled in another location (for exhibitions, etc.),
  4. It needed to accommodate 30 sitting people in a presentation scenario with wall mounting space for A0 panels; accommodate 6 shelf display units and 4 floor standing display units for an exhibition scenario; and covert to an informal gathering space for a party scenario.
Having experienced the design and construction of the DRL 10 pavilion which took over a month to construct, we knew that having several different sectional profiles that needed to assembled together in a particular sequence was not going to work with the 72 hour deadline – it was way too complex and confusing for people on site just to figure out the sequencing right, let alone the assembly.

So we set up one of our primary objective to having the least possible variety of sections: something like standardized lego blocks of the same size so there is no confusion of which piece goes where – all pieces are 4 standard sizes, anyone can go anywhere as long as they are the same size. This, in my opinion is a very useful application of parametric design techniques where top-down form generation meets bottom-up component assembly logic – parametrics working towards minimizing costs and assembly times.

This system was setup in Rhino+Grasshopper in which we controlled the entire form with just 5 splines, and the computational system always maintained lengths and assembly constraints and provided the closest matching form. The final form consisted of 50 sectional profiles, each made up of 4 different sizes of members connected in the same sequence.

The final design was made up of 4 different sizes of members, linked up in series with hinged joints, which makes them collapsible into a very small size. The planned assembly was as follows:
  1. All 50 sets of sectional profiles will be assembled off-site as they are being CNC milled.
  2. All these profiles will easily fit in a mini-truck in their collapsed state, and transported to site.
  3. The profiles will be placed next to each other and the joints secured by running cables through them.
  4. The profiles will be opened up from their collapsed state, tuning the hinged joints until the final shape is achieved.
The seating was designed in the same manner with 2 different sizes of components. Due to the flexibility of a hinged joint, the seating was designed to be easily adjustable to become a bar counter in a party scenario or a display unit in the exhibition scenario.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Urban Programmatic Distribution System - The 3d version

This video is an earlier version of the Urban Distribution System that was finally used in denCity. This version could do a 3d representation of the FAR & height maps which made better eye-candy, but didn't have features like the coastline change, pedestrian walkability zones, street patterns, etc. that was finally coded into the final version. It ultimately became so complicated and processing intensive that we had to discard the 3d ability just for the sake of sanity.

Sunday, 19 April 2009


denCity is a Masters level research project by Sahra (Peter Sovinc, Saif Almasri, Suryansh Chandra) at the Design Research Lab, Architectural Association, London.

denCity is a critique of modern day urbanization and city planning methodologies that are based on 20-year masterplans of linear city growth and are incapable of dealing with the pace of change of modern economic landscapes, societal conditions and life styles. It researches new interactive systems of master planning and urban design, that are capable of coping with completely different economic scenarios within a matter of seconds, producing relevant FAR and height regulation maps, programmatic distribution information and street networks.
At the architectural scale, denCity critiques modern day urbanization that is shaped by an assumed unending abundance of energy sources and the short sighted reliance on private vehicular transportation. The research is focussed on developing super high density 20 FAR pedestrian ladscapes and addressing issues of natural light penetration and ground association observed in contemporary high density cities.

Below is the online version of the final project with voice over:

Part 1/2

Part 2/2

Please feel free to leave you feedback/suggestions/etc.