The concept of nature lies in its structure of processes, organisms keep an homeostatic balance in response to the continuous changes in the environment, a non-linear network where everyone interacts with everyone else, all at the same time. The basis of these processes is the control over the information flow, exchange and interplay among the organisms and between them and their environment. Adaption and self-regulation happen perpetually during the life cycle, while environmental pressure cause a selection in populations that produce an evolution in future generations.
In order to approach an architectural design that goes beyond the static definition of sustainability and engages a more natural relation with the environment in order to create a synthetic ecology (synthetic is used to indicate what is built and differentiate it from what naturally grows; the concept of “artificial” as opposed to “natural” is a mind abstraction, synthetic is not synonymous of artificial), the starting point is to build a pervasive information model of the environment. Environment is here intended not only under its physical intensive data (temperature, wind, solar radiation absorption, …) but as the set of conditions and pressures (physical, cultural, social, ediphic) that influence the habitat and architectural performative behaviors at different scales (macro and micro).
From punctual survey or simulation via specific software, the collected information is then extrapolated to continuous data fields throughout the considered area and its related surroundings.
Architecture then will be studied as the open result of the modulated response to these environmental conditions at different scales. Open design strategies will be applied in a process of selection over a population of options in order to pursue a wide range of student’s chosen specific efficient design. Final results, depending on the chosen strategy for the project, will be closer or farther to the actual architectural, building and production system, thus hopefully depicting a gradient of opportunities.
Aim of the course therefore is not scrutinize a specific and strict range of conditions but to introduce students to a design process through population and selection, where, just like in nature, forms find their possible functions. More to that extent, project will engage and negotiate their relation with the territory in order to produce architectural outcomes as much as possible compromised with reality.

_ Alessio


: : Th. final thesis projects 01

Andrea Bugli is one of three students for whom I was the advisor at the University of Bologna who successfully discussed their graduation thesis projects on tuesday october 20th.

His project, "Digital refining: new winery for 'Consorzio Vini Tipici di S. Marino'", can be seen

An excerpt from his blog:

The work, that led to the design of the new winery for “Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino”, started with research about the shift of paradigm (from mechanicistic to ecological) that is affecting all the fields of human activity and consequently the architectural one. The new paradigm reveals how life on Earth belong to a big single web-system structured on many levels. This system is composed by all the environments and by all the living creatures that composed them, mutually influencing themselves in a cyclical way. The application of these ideas in architecture develops a new sensitivity that, starting from deep researches in the field of biology, studies how natural systems grow, differentiate and relate themselves with the external environment. The extrapolation of these natural laws, and its application in architectural field, allow to study, in depth and in a more efficient way, the relationship between the project and the environment (physical, cultural, social) which is located in.
From this point of view was developed a research on the algorithm of phyllotaxis: a system of natural closest packing that plants use to organize the arrangement of their lateral organs (leaves on a stem, scales on a cone axis, florets in a composite flower head) to optimize their exposure to rainfall and sunlight. The algorithm was reproduced, through the use of parametric design software (rhinoscript and grasshopper), and utilized for a case study on the generation of architectural shape. Subsequent elaborations allowed to link the algorithm of phyllotaxis to Incident Solar Radiation analysis on the architectural surfaces. In this way I could differentiate structure's permeability to sunlight on the basis of environmental data. The interaction between the algorithm (endogenous bind) and the solar gradient (exogenous bind), allows to generate an architectural shape directly influenced by the environment in which is located.
This research was applied to the design of the new winery for “Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino”. A winery is a complex system that made necessary a deep analysis of the relationship between the inner activities and the environmental factors. This interaction, between project and site, allowed to organize a gravity system of reception of grapes, with a remarkable increase of quality of produced wine. Besides, sightseeing areas were integrated in the inner work spaces to permit a complete comprehension of the “wine cycle” by the visitors. Solved the functional structure of the building, the algorithm of phyllotaxis was used to create multiperformance membranes that perform structural function of covering and adjustment of sunlight permeability at the same time. In this way, in every area of the winery, variation of sunlight permeability allowed to create heterogeneous working environment in which coexist working areas (with excellent natural lighting levels) and storage areas (with low lighting levels that contribute to a better maturation of wine).