Active Matter 2012
16–26 February 2012 || The Architectural Association Visiting School, Tel Aviv
For over a century, desertification has been recognised as a significant environmental problem – a problem now affecting 36 million square kilometres and over 1.3 billion people worldwide. One of the few countries that has managed to buck the trend of land degradation and to create new green habitable environments in an arid ecology is Israel, where desert covers over 60 per cent of the land. Capitalising on Israel’s knowledge in desert engineering, ‘Active Matter’ will explore environmental and recreational infrastructures across multiple scales; ranging from the individual infrastructural module (irrigation trap/soil stabilisers, etc) to its distribution logic over a vast territory.
Introducing a systemic approach towards context and intervention, we will test physical prototypes not just as singular interventions but also as interwoven implants – a projective ‘field’ condition open to the transformative forces of nature.
Through an interdisciplinary collaboration with experts in parametric design, manufacturing technologies and environmental studies, we will explore the potential of advanced digital fabrication techniques as well as the potential of varied sheet and mouldable materials (plastics/ concrete/ cement) in the generation of new ‘infrastructural fabrics’.
Constantly shifting between manual and digital design techniques, workshop participants will actively engage with algorithmic and parametric thinking, investigating generative organisational algorithms as well as fabrication processes such as contouring, forming and casting.
Alongside the studio-based design tutorials (led by an international team of experts and offering instruction in Rhino 3D-modelling, Rhino Scripting and Grasshopper), a series of presentations will offer a relevant overview of contemporary theory, case studies and advanced applications.
Workshop Structure – 3 Trajectories.
‘Active Matter’ will develop its prototypical interventions in the desert in three main directions:
1. In Macro-Networks and distributions.
In Macro will focus at its initial phase on mapping and tracing techniques of the desert’s existing networks and patterns(from urban fabrics to ecological) .During the first days, the participant will move away from the segregation of the territory and delve into the cybernetic understanding of systems and territorial networks. We will examine anti-desertification systems,from soil stabilization on grand scale,desert afforestation and water management processes as underlaying conditions to human inhabitation in the desert and as part of the territorial orchestration of hydrological and geological processes taking place in the arid context. As a second step, In Macro will introduce the workshop’s developed maps into a 3d computation platform, translating both maps and GIS information. We will focus on crucial parameters (and their magnitudes) and construct relational parametric field conditions with inherent relational logic and local differentiation.
The In-Macro trajectory will deploy mapping techniques, spatial parametric analysis and simple transcoding techniques (Softwares :Adobe Suite,Rhino,Grasshopper,GIS).
2. In Micro-Learning through Making.
In Micro will explore the integration of natural cycles and environmental processes in the design, fabrication and materialization of a singular, human-scale component. Emphasizing on both bottom up local relations between the units and the top down environmental constraints as key parameters in the shaping of an infrastructural building block, we will attempt to produce a series of scaled prototypes which can be introduced into the general territorial (In Macro) distribution.
In Micro will take advantage of the ‘Shenkar’ prototyping lab and the AA ‘Learning through Making’ approach, building the participant’s ‘tool box’ through experimentation with 3d rhino modeling, digital fabrication techniques such as contouring, forming and casting as well as the employment of varied moldable (plastics/ concrete/ cement/ mud) and sheet materials.
3. In Habitation-Latent futures.
While the two first trajectories develop in parallel and through constant feedback, the third module – ‘InHabitation’ will examine possible deployment strategies, construction techniques and materialization of the infrastructural prototypes on site. Taking into consideration the natural time cycles as well as the project phasing strategy, we will project possible construction sequences and relevant machinic fabrication processes as first steps towards future 1:1 site specific interventions.
Presentation and Symposium (Day 10).
The outputs of the workshop will be presented during a final event to leading researchers, and international design critics- and will coincide with a final one day symposium dealing with the new wave of ecological driven designs and construction (Location TBC).
The results of the Active Matter workshop will become a part of a future exhibition. The intensive ten-day workshop is open to current architecture and design students, PhD candidates and young professionals.
Visiting School Director: Christopher Pierce.
Visiting School Coordinator: Karina Joseph
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