In conclusion the experiments could be transformed into an environment that is in a sense more abstract boundary or envelope, it can be a space-changing enclosure which is not solid as the traditional architectural envelopes. Therefore this boundary/envelope will be a translation between a context – the human beings and process – the biological species’ movement so the design will be transformed into a setting for perception and experience and the accent will be on the relationships in the complex system. Such an environment will have a closer relationship with its surroundings – human beings, weather, or some kind of change of state. Therefore the architectural environment will transform with the change in state and will become a non-static, actively involved spatial paradigm. Architecture will act like a living organism and biological systems.
“A functional definition of this architecture could describe building envelopes as filters that enclose human bodies and draw the environment inward and outward, sheltering the interior and amplifying the experience of the surrounding world.” Philip Beesley
Inspiration Nature Living architecture
The research is a design study for finding new alternative solutions for creating a design strategy; for the possibility of creating “space-changing” environments with a constant development held in them (like the organisms’ development through a life span). Furthermore the thesis is about the patterns of behaviour derived from biology and nature and the possible bio-mechanism that could be discovered and used for creating an architectural environment that could be a self-sufficient system. Such an outlook gives lots of possibilities and an area for speculations – a possibility of what architecture might be.
The thesis project pursues an environment for transformation and adaptation – a setting with responsive actions and living technologies at a primitive level for now but with a potential to develop in architecture in future. That environment creates a public space that reacts to and depends on human presence with surfaces that spread in three dimensions. The single species of this system are of an equal importance to the series of species and form a” living organism”. With the use of tessellated geometry the formed urfaces and configurations act like a hybrid public architecture where everything depends on everything.
The movement of a particular biological species - the butterfly is translated into an ephemeral and light design which acts like a spatial transformable boundary – a space-changing enclosure which is not solid and is modified into a setting for perception and experience with an accent on the relationships in the system.
Biomimicry: Culture vs Nature Biomimicry: an alternative strategy for exploring new ways of designing
Different biological analogies in architecture and the arts have been made for centuries and many architects and artists looked for an inspiration in nature. Nowadays there is a predisposition in architecture in relation to biology for a research in evolutionary biology and evolutionary algorithms, artificial intelligence, cybernetics and general systems theory. More particularly the subject matter I looked at in more depth is the research in dynamic behaviours of biological species and the possible interactions that occur and the forms and behaviours that appear from that explo- ration. Biological mechanisms, forms and inspiration could be found and used as design strategies by studying the process in complex biological systems. This exploration could be referred and found in the literature as Biomimicry, Biotechnics, Bionics, Biomimetics and so on.
The thesis is a design study that explores the boundary between nature and culture, immaterial and material, organic and mechanical, human and animal, system and environment. The research began as a study of the dynamic behaviours of biological species, the possible interactions that occur and the forms and behaviours that appear. Through series of adaptive bio-mechanical devices the work evolved into a responsive and adaptive environment with choreographed movements and patterns of behaviour. The formed biological system performs in synchrony with the surrounding environment and acts as a dynamic and flexible complex entity. The setting is a network, a mesh of patterns of rela- tionships and processes and acts like an organised whole.
Unfolding architecture and kinetic patternsKinetic diagram of the rotary locomotion
“Kinetic pattern is ephemeral – clusters, thickenings and gradients of movement.”
Experimentation in kinetics and architectural skins is introduced more widely recently. Facades and elements are transformed in kinetic living creatures changing in synchrony with the environment. The kinetic quality of the locomotion and the bio-mechanisms that are hidden behind it in the current study are the driver that animates the artificial system. The surface itself acts like a mechanism supported by the mechanics behind it – it folds and unfolds, bends, twists – that way the movement becomes three-dimensional. The pleats of the fabric unfold delicately so the mechanics become subtle and the clumsiness from the first experiments is not present. A basic servo system is used for achieving the kinetic quality of the locomotion and the added surface compliments and bounds with it. The pattern of motion arises from the movement of the multiple parts in the single device and then in the system – morphology of movement is the result and transforms the system in an unfolding architecture. The local movement in the parts is simple and the complexity comes from the global outcome – the collaboration between the parts themselves and the system at a bigger scale.
“A new generation of giant-scale textiles is at the core of a
revolution in architecture.” S Hanna and PA Beesley
An underlying accent in the installation is the exceptional use of uncommon materials – namely the use of fabric. The relationship between architecture and textiles has an ongoing history and there are vast developments in the last 20 years. Therefore the qualities of textiles such as lightness, fluidity, thinness, softness, flexibility make them appropriate for the achieving of this architectural paradigm of dynamics, transparency and delicacy.
The use of the fabric envelopes the structure of the devices like skin and is a reflection of the movement, at the same times it creates the character of the movement – makes it animate and organic, constantly changing, twisting, bending, folding, unfolding, and spreading. The fabric is bendable and flexible therefore its eminence changes the quality of the devices’ motion – they become alive. The surfaces thrive a metamorphosis – the change of form is inspired by the natural process of transformation. There is a definite and profound interrelation between form, function and structure which is extremely important in biological organisms. The fabric and the light design reflect into an ephemeral structure – half-boundary, half-opening. Basic quality of the fabric is its allowance of folding; the quality is coupled with the mechanics that stand behind the motion and together make the structure transformable and deployable.
Constant flow of information – ecology of the devices. Sensory architecture.
The ecological system is in constant and dynamic flow of information - sensors register instability in the system – in this case the human presence therefore a reaction in the system is provoked20. Each member of the system is con- nected in a sensor network. The system has reflex- es and the sensors could be referred to the sensuous cells in the nervous system – they are receptive and respond to the changes surrounding them. The computer is the mind; it has a preprogrammed behaviour like an organism. There is a definite relationship between the parts of the single device (the surfaces of the devices are built in such a way that the arrangement follows a specific order), between the devices themselves (they move in choreographed arrangements) and between the devices and the environment – the observers in the case. The whole system is a unity of dependences and relations – an organism is created, yet an artificial one but with organic qualities.
Such an approach for designing arise the possibility of building environments and systems that “regulate themselves and survive. They adapt and compute. They invent. They co-operate and compete. Naturally they evolve rapidly.” 22
The suggested design is a different and extraordinary definition of space – without solid boundaries and walls – the space is created by the network of relationships and is given a final touch by the personal experience of the observers and their perception. A medium between physical and immaterial world is formulated.
Final prototype – transforming an object into an architectural space/system/event
The final built prototypes succeed in mimicking the organic quality of their biological equivalent. As a result the analogy is a kinetic sculpture that creates space through movement. The reactions of the prototypes are subtle, gentle and light. In turn they evoke responses in the observers – a moment of surprise is present, at some moments it is even eerie.
The created architecture becomes an event – the devices actively shape the environment. They have their own char- acter – provoke reactions and become alive; they define the space in a light, non-obstructive way. The fluid surfaces move in an organic almost living manner – the motion is gentle; a dynamic change in form occurs – the fabric un- folds and changes constantly. The local behaviours of each device posses a global outcome – compound and complex arrangements in behaviour arise. At a local level the move- ment is rotary and twists and bends the surfaces in three dimensions – surfaces change and arrangements are built. The global outcome is the dance in synchrony of five de- vices – once they sense the presence in their environment, scared they trigger themselves one after another with deli- cate and fragile motions. The human being becomes their environment and at the same time the devices are our envi- ronment – the boundary becomes vague and interconnect- edness is the accent.
The composition is intended to envelope and to embody the observers – people can be inside or outside; the bound- ary between an environment and a system is blurred. The scale of the “species”-devices is in a confined relationship with the scale of the human beings – in such a way so the unity between them to be complete.
Making as e design process
Making is an essential part in the design process for testing the underlying principles and ideas of Bionics. Through the development of the thesis technological and mechanical problems were becoming aesthetic problems repeatedly. Turning the abstract ideas explored in the simulations in a functioning and aesthetical physical model was vital. Making was dictating what was possible and what not – the design was achieved by trial and error. Mechanics are a profound part for the aimed design – and were intrinsic moment for realising the locomotion and that way creating the living system. A research in kinetics and mechanical mechanisms guided the design. It appeared that involving the technology in the design was not an easy task – the combination of organic and immaterial essence with the mechanics in such a way so the design did not look clumsy but light and ephemeral was the most difficult part of the thesis.
Further analyses through modern methods - CAD/CAM programs Parametric model of a butterfly movement
he vast development of technology makes possible detailed exploration of biological processes and behaviours - something that was a basic obstacle in the past. Computer aided design and manufacturing like simulations, animations, laser cutting, 3D printing were an important part of the development of the thesis and the movement was analysed, simulated and at a later stage manufactured as a physical model with the help of these methods. The simulations and animations enabled the initial quality of the movement like lightness and ephemerality to be reproduced which could not be done otherwise. Experiment 3 – Analysing Movement through simulations – Maya software
Another development of the thesis was the formation of a simulation of the species’ movement. I aimed for recreating its floatable and ephemeral quality so that a magical configuration to be formed. As a result catching this transparent and light movement and representing it appeared to be not so easy for reproducing.
Diagramming Movement Experiment 2 - Mapping Movement – Locomotion: Flying
Definition of locomotion bionics: “Walking, swimming and flying as primary forms of movement. Interaction with the surrounding medium.” The flight is a dynamic movement and has as a basic quality kinetic characteristics. Using the films I made I mapped the biological species locomotion and researched how exactly they moved. I decided to explore the movement of the wings in combination with a straight upwards flight. With the help of descriptive geometry and computing technologies the movement was possible to be reconstructed and abstracted into a diagram and presented as a three-dimensional surface. The analysing of the motion showed that the species do these incredible movement loops in the form of an eight while they flap with their wings.
Experiment 1 – How to come into a possession of a butterfly in the 21st century
As a first step for my research I needed to map the species movement in flight and explore their transformations therefore I needed a living organism. In opposition of the organic approach for design the thesis is about I used the most artificial process for providing with the insects. Speeding up all evolutionary and ecology processes I purchased the caterpillars from Amazon. Spending four weeks with them, taking care of the species and following their transformations led to required outcome. Finally I succeeded in capturing them by taking films of the beautiful creatures and using them for further explorations and analyses.