CAAD goes California
For the exhibition "inventioneering architecture" at the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in San Francisco in October 05, the Chair of CAAD developed a wooden exhibition platform consisting of 1000 different beams. On the platform, the four Swiss architecture schools of Zurich, Lausanne, Mendrisio and Geneva will exhibit their recent work. The project is the most recent example of the ongoing research on digital design and fabrication at the Chair of CAAD.
Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Ludger Hovestadt the Chair of Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) at ETH Zürich is developing prototypical "digital production chains" for architecture and design. A "digital chain" is a continuous digital process from design (definition of shape and structure) to construction (detailing) to production (CNC-manufacturing). The aim of this work is an integrated design- and building process, which uses digital tools (CAx) in every stage and transfers information between the steps via digital interfaces.
The single steps are programmed units interconnected by universal interfaces. The computer is not used as a passive digital drawing board but as a tool, actively influencing the design. The architect provides rules interrelations and aims, which the computer optimizes in many variations due to its computing power. The role of the architect shifts from form designer to process designer. The results' esthetics is in many ways result of the given parameters.
In this process three topics emerge that could may influence contemporary architecture:
Efficiency – With the support of programming techniques and parametric building elements a multitude of output is possible without additional time needed. Constructions made from individually customised pieces, which previously were only possible with enormous financial effort, are getting economically interesting.
Complexity – Complex structures and building shapes can be developed. During the detailing phase programming constitutes a crucial support and ease.
Refinement – Computer aided machines work with a precision and detailing that could not be achieved manually - neither in schedule nor in technique. The detail could reconquer an ornamental meaning that got lost with industrialisation.
The hilly platform for the exhibition "inventioneering architecture" is a result of a digital chain and illustrates the three aspects mentioned above: Its complex double curved surface made from thousand different beams could not have been realized in terms of budget and time without the approach of a digital production chain.
Project leader: ETH Zürich, Gerhard Schmitt and Marc Angélil
Design and Organisation: Instant Architects Zürich, Dirk Hebel and Jörg Stollmann with Sascha Delz
Geometry Consulting and Engineering: CAAD designtoproduction - Markus Braach, Fabian Scheurer and Christoph Schindler
CNC-Production: Bach Heiden AG, Heiden