lunes, 27 de febrero de 2012

A Manifesto For Protocell Architecture: Against Biological Formalism

1- We want to change the world with almost nothing.
• It is possible to generate complex materials and architectures through harnessing the
fundamental energetics of matter; in other words, doing more with less.
2- What we call protocell architecture is, at root, a piece of Dadaist and Surrealist research, in
which all the lofty questions have become involved.
• The novel self?assembling material systems that arise from protocell architectural practice make
no reference to, nor attempt to mimic, bio?logic. As such, protocell architecture is an alien to the
natural world, yet speaks the same fundamental languages of chemistry and physics. The results of
these conversations and interactions constitute a parallel biology and second biogenesis whose
aesthetics are described by Surrealist agendas.
3- Architecture is dead, long live architecture.
• Protocells constitute a disruptive technology for architectural practice since they are capable of
reaching a transition point when evolution emerges within the system, the outcome of which is
unpredictable, and therefore offer novel and surprising ways of constructing architecture that will
succeed and replace conventional technologies.
4- Protocell architecture swallows contrast and all contradictions including the grotesquery and
illogicality of life.
• Protocell technology is at the beginning of an evolutionary pathway that is connected to, and
dependent on, the environmental conditions around it. The responsiveness of protocells to stimuli
means they can be regarded as computing units. Consequently, protocells do not seek to generate
idealised architectural forms but to reflect and interpret the full spectrum of the processes they
encounter in the real world.
5- What is generally termed life is really a frothy nothing that merely connects.
• Protocell technology offers an opportunity for architects to engage with the evolutionary
process itself. Unlike natural biological systems that evolve randomly according to Darwinian
evolution, protocell technology allows deliberate and specifi c interventions throughout the entire
course of its coming into being. By moving and metabolising, protocells may form the basis for a
synthetic surface ecology. These interventions are the basis of what we call protocell architecture.
6- We do not wish to imitate nature, we do not wish to reproduce nature, we want to produce
architecture in the way a plant produces its fruit. We do not want to depict, we want to produce
directly, not indirectly, since there is no trace of abstraction. We call it protocell architecture.
• Protocell architecture embodies the principles of emergence, bottom?up construction
techniques and self?assembly. It is equipped with design ‘handles’ that enable the architect to
persuade rather than dominate the outcome of the system through physical communication. As
such, these systems are unknowable, surprising and anarchic.
7- We want to collage effective organic machinery that composes itself according to the drivers of
biological design.
• Protocell architecture is chemically programmable and operates in keeping with the organising
principles of physics and chemistry.
8- We want over and over again, movement and connection; we see peace only in dynamism.
• Protocell architecture gathers its energy from the tension that resides at an interface between
two media such as oil and water, which causes movement, disruption and change. It resists the
equilibrium since this constitutes death.
9- The head is round, so thoughts can revolve. The head of architecture is green, robust,
synthesized, and exists everywhere simultaneously, whether it is large or very, very small.
• Protocell architecture is fashioned from ‘low?tech biotech’ characterised by ubiquitous, durable
and affordable materials.
10- We wish to blur the firm boundaries that self?certain people delineate around all we can
• Protocell technology becomes a co?author in the production of architecture through the
possession of living properties and its ability to self?assemble.
11- We tell you the tricks of today are the truths of tomorrow.
• Protocell architecture is better adapted to the prevailing physical and social conditions since it is
founded on a new set of technologies that are not ‘alive’ but which possess some of the properties
of living systems. As such these technologies are qualitatively different to the industrial and digital
technologies that have become the mainstream tools of the 20th century.
12- We will work with things that we do not want to design, things that already have systematic
• Protocell technology has the capacity to transform and modify existing building materials and
architecture with the potential for surprise.
13- You know as well as we do that architecture is nothing more than rhythms and connections.
• Protocell architecture embodies the complexity of materials in a literal rather than a
metaphorical manner, and becomes a physical part of our existence.
14- We will construct exquisite corpses, not dead but alive and useful.
• Protocell architecture is central to the understanding of living systems. It allows us to work with
and enhance the unavoidable inconsistency that is the essence of life itself.
15- We deal in a second aesthetic, one that initiates beginnings and moulds with natural forces.
• Protocell architecture is connected to the environment through constant conversation and
energy exchange with the natural world in a series of chemical interactions called ‘metabolism’.
This involves the conversion of one group of substances into another, either by absorbing or
releasing energy – doing more with less.

Texto publicado en la ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN nº210, Marzo/Abril 2011
Editores Invitados Neil Spiller y Rachel Armstrong

Seleccionado por el arq. Martín Lisnovsky

Imagen tomada de: BIOTHING 2010, Alisa Andrasek y José Sanchez, principal designers

martes, 21 de febrero de 2012

...Can be built is determinate by what can be drawn and measured in drawings...

“…If all that is built is built from notations, and if the drawings (or models) must contain all of the necessary data for an object to be built identically to its design, it follows that in most cases what can be built is determinate by what can be drawn and measured in drawings. And as the notational system that encodes and carries data in architectural design is mainly geometric, it also follows that the potency of some geometrical tools determines the universe of forms that may or may not be built at any given point in time (with some nuances based on costs and on the complexity of the geometrical operations).
This notational bottleneck was the inevitable companion of all allographic architecture from its very start. Forms that are difficult to draw and measure used to be difficult or impossible to build by notation. Robin Evans has shown how some well-know architects tried to dodge the issue. Parts of Le Corbusier´s church at Ronchamp, for example, were meant to look like plastic, sculptural, and irregular volumes–hand-shaped, like the sketches and three-dimensional models from which they were derived. Behind the scenes, though, Le Corbusier´s engineers had to cook the books so that the most sculpturalparts of the building could be duly drawn and measured in orthogonal projections. The roof in particular was redesigned as a regular, albeit sophisticated, ruled surface. This high-tech geometrical construction was accurately and laboriously devised to approximate Le Corbusier´s supposedly instinctive, unscript gesture as closely as possible. Evans also suggests that Le Corbusier was aware of and complicit in this ploted. (63)
In the most extreme cases, when a form is too difficult to notate geometrically, the last resort of the designer may well be to abandon the modern design process altogether, and return to the traditional, pre-Albertian, autographic way of building. If you can´t draw what you have in mind in order to have others make it for you, you can still try to make it yourself. For example, this is what Antonio Gaudí did, most famously in the church of the Sagrada Familia, not coincidentally reviving, together with architectural forms evocative of a Gothic cathedral, some of the technologies and the social organization of a late medieval building site. Gaudi built some parts of the Sagrada Familia much as Brunelleschi had built his dome in Florence: without construction drawings, but supervising all and everything in person, as an artisan/author who explains viva voce or shapes with his hands what he has in mind. It is not by chance that Gaudí is a famous case of study among contemporary digital designers: once again, new digital tools and preallographic, artisanal fabrication processes find themselves, sometimes unintentionally, on similar grounds…”

63- Robin Evans- The Projective Cast: Architecture and Its Three Geometries. Cambridge, 1995, MIT Press
Extracto seleccionado por el arq. Martín Lisnovsky del libro:
Mario Carpo. The Alphabet and the Algorithm, MIT 2011

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

Koolhaas + Obrist: Project Japan. Metabolism Talks

Uno de los grandes libros que nos dejó el 2011: La riquísima y detallada historia que Rem Koolhaas y Hans Ulrich Obrist elaboraron a partir del 2005, reconstruyendo los hechos impulsados por el Movimiento Metabolista a partir de una serie de reportajes a los miembros sobrevivientes, parientes, amigos y colaboradores (algunos de los cuales fallecieron en estos años recientes): Arata Isozaki, Toshiko Kato, Kiyonori Kikutake, Noboru Kawazoe, Fumihiko Maki, Kisho Kurokawa, Kenji Ekuan, Takako y Noritaka Tange, Atsushi Shimokobe, entre otros. Desde la intención japonesa de colonizar las tierras de la Manchuria en 1940, hasta el cenit de la exposición en Osaka 1970 y la refracción de sus ideas y sus estudios por el resto del globo. La importancia de Kenzo Tange, el personaje multimedia que encarnaba Kurokawa, el peso crítico de Kawazoe, las divergencias de Isozaki con el grupo y la visión norteamericana de Maki, un admirador de Gropius. Más de 700 páginas que abundan en material gráfico, fotografías y diversos órdenes informativos, colaborando en la reubicación histórica de la importancia de este grupo liderado por un visionario, incentivados por el orgullo y el honor de un país, donde unos jóvenes crearon -como aclaran los autores-, la primer vanguardia no occidental en la historia de la arquitectura, y la posicionaron como una revolución social. Muchas de sus ideas publicadas por primera vez en el libro Metabolismo de 1960, marcaron la década en la arquitectura y recobraron nuevos bríos en nuestra primer era digital, demostrando unas propuestas tan utópica como factible. Justo a tiempo para lograr conversar con algunos de los personajes centrales, en un trabajo que celebramos y agradecemos especialmente. Imperdible.
Seleccionado por el arq. Martín Lisnovsky. Las imágenes fueron tomadas de la edición en papel.


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