Canadian Architect

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Variations: Exploration on Parametric Grids

Student Award of Excellence

December 1, 2007
by Canadian Architect

STUDENT HUBERT PELLETIER, UNIVERSITE DE MONTREAL

LOCATION STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

From a geometric point of view, architecture is a perpetual negotiation between idealized abstract systems and the constantly changing local conditions inherent in each project. For instance, composition grids have always been an attempt to impose an overarching order (whether divine or rationalist) onto an otherwise inconsistent reality. This project is an exploration of the parametric deformation of a three-dimensional Cartesian grid, a recurrent structural archetype of the western world. The objective was to create a digital geometric model of a space frame that could be deformed locally to adapt to factors such as program, site, context, etc. The initial step was to define a system of virtual nodes using attraction and repulsion forces. Developed with the help of a programmer, the system evolved gradually from a simple parametric row of points to a 2D grid, and finally to a 3D lattice. The system is designed to prefer orthogonality and equidistance when no constraints are in play, but can warp in real time under the action of repulsive nodes. The next step was then to confront this generic system with a real architectural program and context: in this case, the competition for the addition to the Stockholm Library. The following parameters were extracted from the brief. First, the site and its difficult topographical condition meant the building had to adapt to the hill. Second, the special need for light in a library resulted in vertical shafts that had to be freed from the dense grid of bookshelves. The software operates a real-time mediation between the ideal system and the imposed constraints. With each node being influenced by every other node, an emergent order is computed from thousands of conflicting instructions, instantly achieving an equilibrium, a form of synthesis. The result of the simulation is a set of spatial coordinates describing the precise position and orientation of architectural elements such as columns, bookshelves and faades, all of those inscribed in a new fluid and dynamic grid.

Daoust: This is a very mature and insightful architectural proposal. The project is based on a strong theoretical approach enriched by a sensitive reading of the context, and achieves an intricate two- and three-dimensional level of resolution.

Kearns: A sophisticated and beautifully rendered presentation demonstrates creativity coupled with intellectual clarity and control. This student used exceptional computer skills to convey a well ordered and elegant architectural infill project.

Ostry: This theoretical addition to Asplund’s Stockholm Library really stood out because of its intelligibility and resolution. Using a set of geometric systems as a basis to guide the design process has produced a very strong design that adroitly balances simplicity and complexity. The project responds beautifully to the influential forces of both site and program, deforming with the natural landscape and topography of the hill and engaging with the library in an intimate relationship of connection. A convincing scheme with an articulate and expressive idea.

HACKER GUILLAUME LABELLE

THESIS ADVISOR JEAN-PIERRE CHUPIN

TECHNICAL SUPPORT C.I.A.M & FORMLAB




Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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