Intermediate 13 Igor Gola, Computational Ornamentation, 2016-17

Computational Ornamentation

Soomeen Hahm

Ornamentation in architecture has long been debated in terms of its suitability, its ability to be measured or controlled, or whether it fulfils a structural or a functional role. Intermediate 13 aims to challenge these traditional notions of ornament by looking at the way its shape, geometry and spatial qualities are driven by structural principles and by architectural use. What interests us is ornament that is inhabitable, functional and rich in information or, in other words, intelligent ornamentation.

In examining these ideas, our underlying conceptual methodology will be informed by computational design thinking, in particular shifts in contemporary design paradigms towards non-standardised architectural production and mass customisation avoiding serial repetition. Specifically, the constant evolution of digital fabrication processes - such as 3D printing and robotic fabrication - enables us to work at a pace and resolution unimaginable just a few years ago. However, the manner in which these techniques have traditionally been utilised does not address the fixity of architectural space or the linearity of building process. With this in mind, Intermediate 13 will continue to conduct research into systematic yet delicate and complex fabrication methods that can be continuously automated and reproduced to produce different architectural or non-architectural elements.

Through a series of 1:1-scale prototypes, the unit will investigate a number of design and fabrication techniques, driven by material behaviour as well as by specific crafting techniques, both digital and analogue. Through a focus on geometry and materiality, we will constantly look to pursue unique spatial formations where both internal and external experiences are informed by the specificity of applied processes. This will be achieved by using a number of computational and algorithmic design techniques, each corresponding to a unique material system. It is hoped that the resulting digital simulations will operate in constant feedback with the development of parallel material systems - an integrated model allowing computational techniques to be a fundamental part of the design process rather than merely a representation tool.

Unit Staff

Soomeen Hahm, founder of the SoomeenHahm Design Ltd, is an architectural designer, researcher and educator based in London and teaching at the Architectural Association and the Bartlett UCL. Her research tries to tackle issues associated with the computational paradigm in architecture across multiple scales and through education, research and practice.


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