A Multi-Material Design Compendium
Edited by KOSTAS GRIGORIADIS
Foreword—Material Matters 8
Introduction—The (Multi-)Material Things to Come 10
The Oceanic Pedagogical Sketchbook of Multi-Materiality 18
Monolith. Continuity and Differentiation within Volumetric
Andrew Payne and Panagiotis Michalatos
Encoding Multi-Materiality 40
Daniel Richards and Martyn Amos
Contemporary Materialities. An Interview with Francis
VSpace: The Mathematics of Material 54
Preliminary Notes towards a History of Computational
Gradient Logics: The Durotaxis Chair 106
Deep Texture 116
Functionally Graded Concrete. Designing Concrete with
Multifunctional Material Properties 124
Michael Herrmann and Werner Sobek
OOO and Multi-Materiality 134
Hylonoetics: On the Priority of Material Engagement 140
All Is Behaviour 148
… biographies, image credits, imprint 152
Architectural modernism has long been deemed a battle of modern material
versus media. Is it the sudden late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
appearance of glass, steel, reinforced concrete, and their various engineering
and construction possibilities that provided the basis for a distinctively
modern architect, and project? Or might it have been the emergence and
proliferation during that same period of modern printing, newsprint, magazines,
photography, and film—especially considering their accelerated capacities
for the transmission of revolutionary architectural images, manifestos,
and texts, out of which the iconic orthodoxy of architectural modernism
might be best comprehended?
To set up an interrogation of architecture’s most experimental, modern advances
this way—as a dialectic of seemingly opposing social realities (‘material’
vs. ‘media’)—is of course mistaken. If we were to do so, this would not
only prefigure historically the frequently stated, false contemporary dichotomy
of ‘physical’ versus ‘virtual’ realms, but also we would be missing entirely
the larger point of the following book, edited to great effect by Kostas
Grigoriadis. Which, as a thesis, can be summarised this way: those physical
components and other forms of matter by which architects assemble things
still resembling architectural structures, are today the product of design sensibilities,
research regimes, and fabrication realities that make them resemble
forms of ‘media’ as much as they might ‘materials’.
The following collection of essays, interviews, and commentary provides a
helpful record of the professional, cultural, and even philosophical implications
of a decidedly contemporary acceleration of the convergence of media
and material realities in architecture; a convergence, I would suggest, that
has long been a feature of modern architecture itself.
What is new today, however, is the downright unexpectedness of the various
trajectories of today’s increasingly mediated material designs—the growing
ways in which materials are being designed to behave, interact, and adapt
as if they are forms of media—which are re-animating the design research
cultures of architecture, in ways not unlike how the field was propelled a
century ago through an earlier stage of modern industrialisation.
What is being industrialised today, of course is not only the various material
sciences and related design cultures around these, so much as design
research itself. Which provides one way with this short preface to acknowledge
the importance of the remarkable array of expertise and knowledge
Things to Come
Material innovation has historically been at the forefront of change in architecture
and with the advent of a variety of new technological developments
in materiality, it is imperative to consider its implications within the built
Starting off an investigation into advances in material research, the ten MIT
Technology Review Breakthrough Technologies for 2015 for instance, consisted
of, among others, helium balloons that use the layered stratospheric
winds to navigate the globe and beam high-speed Internet access to remote
locations. Additionally, a cinematic-reality interface that projects light into
human eyes, making it blend seamlessly with natural light and therefore
populating one's vision with virtual imagery, promised to make the virtual
appear as real as reality itself. Research in both of these technologies partly
involved a material problem (in the build-up of the balloons' polyethylene
envelope and in manufacturing the grain-sized projector in the case of cinematic-reality)
but more interestingly, five out of the other eight technologies
were related to material innovations per se. With this kind of research nowadays
ranging from the atomic and nano all the way to the visible scale it is
possible to see the nano-lattice architecture, liquid biopsy, brain organoids,
supercharged photosynthesis and internet of DNA technologies as material
level inventions. Additionally, taking this range of scales into account while
looking through previous years of the MIT Technology Review, it is rather
striking that there has been a steady decrease in the magnitude in which
materiality has been intervened with. From the use of additive manufacturing
for 3D printing jet parts in 2013, to micro-scale 3D printing in 2014, the
natural continuation of this lineage was the creation of nano-scale material
lattices in 2015.
What one can effectively extract from looking into these reviews that capture
the forefront of scientific and technological innovation is that there are
two main ongoing changes taking place currently. Firstly, in what material
research and the definition of materials themselves actually are and secondly
in how matter interfaces and weaves together with information and
the digital domain. Or as Spina (2012, p.6) aptly suggested:
"We live in an age of permanent mutation and continuous adaptation...
Now, what if material itself was put into question? What if the
very assumption of material as the purest, stable and discrete property
upon which we formulate and construct often unstable things,
would also become susceptible to change?"
Regarding this shifting definition of materiality, according to Drazin (2015,
p.xxi) there has been a transition from materials that are reactive ("appearing
in pre-determined and pre-intended uses in reaction to human action")
to ones that "we can no longer depend on the predictability of" and which
are active, agentic "and… much more causal in social and epistemological
situations." This unpredictability can be said to go hand-in-hand with the
aforementioned capability to alter matter all the way down to the atomic
level, which is consequently initiating a Neo-Cambrian explosion of all sorts
of stuff being concocted on a nearly daily basis. In this jungle of matter that
is starting to exist out there, even classification of materials is becoming increasingly
difficult. The intent of the Mixed Matters publication, however, is
to address a very specific type of (fused) materials that in the midst of all the
above mentioned innovations, have been termed "the holy grail of materials
[science]" (Wiscombe, 2012, p.5) and are deemed to have the capacity to
bring about radical changes in architecture.
Fused materiality is an invention that has existed since time immemorial,
with examples such as tin-infused copper becoming bronze and giving rise
to the Bronze Age and carbon squeezing in-between iron on an atomic level
that resulted in what we know as steel. The latter changed architecture by
enabling the construction of steel-framed high-rise buildings subsequently
having an immense impact on the organisation of entire cities, as well as
instigating certain aspects of the modernist movement along the way. Although
historically generated through experience and intuition, the exponentially
advancing material science technologies of today are beginning to
allow for targeted control of material fusion across different scales. In the
example of the aeroplane parts additive manufacturing, in addition to the
use of single materials, engineers were beginning to investigate how the
material palette used in the 3D printing process could be expanded. "A blade
for an engine or turbine, for example, could be made with different materials
so that one end is optimised for strength and the other for heat resistance"
(LaMonica, 2013, p.59). Additionally, the MIT Technology Review article on
micro-scale 3D printing started off with the question, "what if 3D printers
could use a wide assortment of different materials… mixing and matching
[these material] "inks" with precision?" (MIT Technology Review, 2014).
Concerning in that instance the micro-scale, fused or multi-materiality on a
visible scale was already envisaged by Japanese scientists as far back as
the 1970s and effectively realised in the 1980s. Termed functionally graded
materials (FGM) they initially consisted of metals gradually fusing into ceramics
within one continuous volume with no disruptions.
Forty years later, research initiatives are beginning to indicate that transferring
the use of graded materials from aerospace and material science to the
11 Introduction—The (Multi-)Material Things to Come
"… architectural aesthetics are
more than the most superficial
aspects of the design process
but are woven through deep
material structurings that
resonate back in cosmic time
when, following the Big Bang,
the first matter started to
condense as chemistry. These
ancient frameworks constrain
the limits of material couplings
but not their creative potential."
17 >>SESSION 01
open to environmental influences working through fundamental material
relationships. While the limits imposed upon these interactions by genetic
information provoke creativity, the aesthetics produced at the dark gel interfaces
discuss alternative possible evolutionary pathways of events and even
suggest new kinds of nature that given the right propagative fields could
potentially persist within the site as soils, bodies, or architectures. The gels
are always moving. They duck, dive, and advocate alternative configurations.
They resist formalisation leading us towards an aesthetics in continual motion
whose qualities evade fossilisation through preordained forms but enable
new kinds of image making and spatial expressions through revealing
connections that were previously unseen.
Procedurally, the modified Liesegang Ring experiment speaks of an origins
of life style transition that is unconstrained by naturalised aesthetics, where
the 'qualia' of interacting lively materials orchestrate new independent acts
of creation. Stephen Jay Gould proposed that replaying the Tape of Life could
test whether the natural realm had been generated through a dominant program,
such as one produced by an omnipotent divinity (Gould, 1990). Gould
argued that if we lived in a predetermined universe—then biological species
would be very similar to those we recognise today. However, if environmental
influences played a significant role in evolution, we might encounter seemingly
alien kinds of life—in keeping with those that arise from the experimental
fields of activated gels and enlivened minerals. Poetically, the ensuing
experimental events are read through the text of Paradise Lost to graphically
discuss how this alternative Nature is not of divine origin, but is borne from
a new collaboration between empowered matter and secular human agency,
which share a common project in their mutual, continued survival. Each drawing
is therefore entitled using the two key design phases used to produce the
experimental work—namely, the dominant oceanic pedagogy in the drawing
(interface, oscillator, selective permeability, massive parallelism) followed by
a quotation from Paradise Lost that relates the graphical events to acts of
secular synthesis that produce soft, living architectures.
Oceanic Multi-Material Aesthetics
By directly engaging the generative potency of the material realm, designers
move one step back from the traditional site of production—the predetermined,
fetishised object—akin to God creating mankind fully formed
from dust. Instead of this sudden act of genesis in which the homunculus
design object is preformed and valued through the geometry of its lines, dimensions,
curves, and energies of geometrically bounded materialities—the
architectural move becomes an evolutionary, musical engagement between
the multiple agencies influencing the production of space. The choreography
of material tensions shaped by human and non-human activity generates
an ongoing series of probabilistic events in which the designer is not
made redundant, but displaced from centre stage of the design process.
Oscillator: "Not all parts like, but all alike informed…" Paradise Lost, Book III, p.593.
Selective Permeability 2: "… more wonderful than that which by creation first brought forth Light out of
darkness!…" Paradise Lost, Book XII, pp.471-473.
Acts of creativity are distributed through a site through multiple material
happenings that nucleate in vortices and oscillate at interfaces, as massively
25 The Oceanic Pedagogical Sketchbook of Multi-Materiality
Monolith has the ability to generate voxel data from source geometry such
as points, lines, curves, planes, and BREPs. The process involves measuring
the distance from each voxel to the nearest point on the source geometry.
After passing through a scalar decay function (i.e. linear, square, exponential,
or power), these distances are normalised and assigned to the corresponding
shape or material ratio channel.
Figure 4: Volumetric model showing the underlying source geometry on the left and the resultant composite
voxel model on the right.
Mesh geometry can also be used to inform voxel densities. The mesh geometry
can be created in any 3D modelling software as a watertight mesh
surface. It can then be imported into Monolith in one of two ways. The first
assigns a voxel density of 1.0 to every unit that falls within the interior of the
mesh geometry; allocating a value of 0.0 to all other voxels.
The second method uses the mesh geometry as a mask. When imported
into Monolith, it overrides the shape channel in the final composition step.
For instance, a designer could create a mesh object in a surface modelling
software and bring it into Monolith as a mask mesh. S/he could then use
Monolith to describe how materials would vary within this shape; something
that requires volumetric rather than surface modelling techniques. The
advantage of using a mask mesh is that it has the ability to capture sharp
corners and discontinuities better than voxel-based contours.
Of course, being a hybrid modelling environment means that there are techniques
that blur the boundary between each fundamental paradigm. Lofting
or Sweeping, for example, are techniques which are fundamental parts of
the CAD modelling vocabulary. They work by blending cross-sectional shapes
(i.e. curves) along a path, ultimately creating a surface boundary representation.
Monolith augments this approach by using raster-based bitmaps, which
can represent fuzzy or continuously varied gradients as underlying cross-
sectional patterns. The result is a completely hybrid approach—one that is
inherently intuitive if familiar with the underlying concepts, yet unique to
both modelling paradigms.
Similarly, another hybrid approach can be seen in the volumetric interpolation
between weighted control points. In 2D image editing applications, the
technique of blending continuously between two known color values (i.e.
gradient) is very common. In 3D CAD modeling, you can edit the weights of
the control points of a spline to control the shape of the curve—effectively
creating a weighted interpolation between the points. While both techniques
are unique to their respective modelling paradigm, we can combine them in
Monolith to create a hybrid approach to volumetric interpolation. Each 3D
grid point, illustrated in figure 5, can be modified interactively to change the
density of that voxel location. Interstitial material is then blended between
the grid points using various interpolation methods, each of which can have
a dramatic impact on the resulting voxel image.
Figure 5: Volumetric grid interpolation using [left] Cubic, [middle] Nearest Neighbor, and [right] Cosine blending
Designing Hierarchical Material [3D Typography]
Hierarchical materials are characterised by mesoscopic structures that can
be highly anisotropic and therefore endow the material with highly controlled
and possibly localised optical and elastic properties. By varying the geometry
of the mesoscopic pattern we can control the macroscopic characteristics
of the material. This implies a new design paradigm, where design
considerations do not have to stop at the selection of an industrial material
from a catalogue but may go all the way down to the scale of micro patterns.
In this sense, detail design becomes a question of the designer traversing
the scale from the microscopic to the macroscopic.
Monolith's approach to the design of hierarchical materials is loosely based
on typographic techniques extended to three dimensions like dithering, halftoning
and engraving. The voxel image contains a material mixing channel.
35 Monolith. Continuity and Differentiation within Volumetric Models
ninen, 2002), which adds new nodes and weighted connections to CPPNs
over time in order to adjust the output patterns in response to desired performance
As described in figure 1 CPPNs can create complex 2D patterns using a scalable
and evolvable encoding (figure 2). These patterns have three exciting
properties. Firstly, they facilitate good evolutionary search, because CPPNs
solve the problem of scalability. Secondly, the patterns contain potentially
useful regularities, symmetries and (interestingly) imperfect symmetries as
a product of the periodic functions (e.g., cosine) used in the CPPN nodes. Finally,
the patterns allow for infinite resolution, whereby increasing their size
(perhaps paradoxically) improves the quality of the pattern, instead of (as we
might expect) causing pixellation.
Our previous work demonstrates how CPPN-NEAT based models can evolve
efficient truss structures (Richards and Amos, 2014a) and facilitate novel
form-finding processes (Richards and Amos, 2014b). We now show ongoing
work with shell and composite structures, which eliminate the aforementioned
problem of the vast number of possible combinations of geometry
As shown in figures 1 and 2, CPPNs can create patterns on 2D canvases by
taking the (x, y) coordinate of each pixel and using it to generate a unique
RGB value. In a similar manner, we paint CPPN generated patterns across
non-uniform rational basis spline (NURBS) surfaces, by replacing the (x, y)
inputs with (u, v) coordinates, as illustrated in the figures on page 70. These
patterns can be evolved in response to performance objectives using the
NEAT algorithm (Stanley and Miikkulaninen, 2002). However, we can also
pause evolution at any time, extract the connection weights of CPPNs, and
manually adjust them in real time to explore different patterns (much like manipulating
an automatically generated Grasshopper definition). The figures
on page 70 illustrate how manipulating some extracted connection weights
can lead to small adjustments, whereas manipulation of different connection
weights can produce much more elaborate changes. However, CPPNs
can do much more than simply control colour. The figures on page 71 show
Heinz Isler-inspired shell structures, where material properties and localised
shell thickness are manipulated with CPPNs in response to automated finite
element analysis (FEA) and speculative design intent.
Figure 3 shows a physical shell prototype with surface articulation and localised
thickness defined by CPPN information; figure 3B illustrates a primitive
multi-material shell; figure 3C shows integrated structural analysis of CPPNbased
shell designs, and figure 3D demonstrates an evolved shell texture
that stiffens its structure in response to a specific loading case.
These computational studies and physical prototypes demonstrate powerful
ways of manipulating NURBS surfaces in order to build exotic shell
structures. However, we can also extend this method to introduce evolvable
lattice-based microstructures (figure 4) and multi-material laminates into
the interior of our shell structures. We expect this approach will facilitate
Figure 3: Prototypes. Top left (A): 3D printed shell structure with varying local thickness. Surface manipulation
is created by inputting (u,v) coordinates of NURBS surface into CPPN and using output to define
extrusion of control points. Top right (B): Multi-material prototype using a Makerbot printer. Bottom left
(C): Shell structures can be easily subjected to FEA using the open-source solver CalculiX. Bottom right (D):
Evolved surface textures to increase shell stiffness.
Figure 4: Microstructure. NURBS surfaces can be extruded along their normal and complex internal lattices
and can be included and optimised to aid performance.
completely new design opportunities, enable us to create high-performance
designs with complex multi-material features, and allow us to discover higher-level
material behaviours (such as novel compliant mechanisms and morphable
structures). This work is ongoing.
47 Encoding Multi-Materiality
An Interview with Francis Bitonti
What are economic, social and political implications of the use
of multi-materials in architecture and construction?
The costs will not always be an issue. It is only expensive because of the
current economy surrounding the intellectual properties enabling this kind of
work. The cost of these technologies will gradually drop in price when we
have multiple producers and manufactures of both materials and machines.
Technological trends are pointing us towards a future where these kinds
of fabrication technologies are going to be very accessible. This is going to
have a very serious impact on construction processes, and will most certainly
disrupt supply chains and the relationship between the contractor and
the architect and the contractor and many vendors and sub-contractors that
work on a project.
What can be the new criteria against which to evaluate the
resulting motley constructs?
We are going to evaluate these kinds of constructs the way we always have.
I think the standards will be higher for building performance because we will
be able to engineer materials in a much different way.
Are there any historical precedents and/or any theoretical
discourses that this paradigm shift can refer/relate to?
I have always thought that Ruskin wrote about masonry construction in
much the same way we talk about voxels in the studio. Designing for additive
methods of production has much in common with these systems.
Viollet-le-Duc is another one whose writings have always seemed very appropriate;
I see many parallels to medieval architecture. It's about accumulation
of discrete elements and very often material differences arise from
geometric differentiation and not necessarily a change in material. Modern
architecture has nothing to do with our contemporary material paradigm. The
scale of components is completely different, more primitive architectures
that predate industrialised production processes forced designers to think
about materials the way 3D printers are forcing us to think about materials
Figure 1: Meta-materiality study detail.
51 Contemporary Materialities. An Interview with Francis Bitonti
"Humans... build to shelter and
protect but... they also build to
define the ontological conditions
and limits of selfhood. In many
ways then the boundaries of the
forms we built become the limits
of our consciousness. And if we
also accept that a being's mental
states can never extend beyond
those boundaries, then setting
the right kind of boundaries is
essential for what we are...."
105 >>>SESSION 02
a gradient heat map that informs the redistribution of mass, and reorientation
of structure to accommodate and respond to structural force.
Proposed Methodology: Generative Sphere Packing
In order to achieve the desired effects of a variable density three-dimensional
space frame a computational process for generating the articulation
of the sponge like structure was proposed. The workflow for generating the
variable, densely packed 3D mesh jumped between a number of software
packages and oscillated between the manual and intuitive modelling of the
global form of the chair, to the analytical study of structural forces, to the
generative articulation of gradient conditions into a cellular matrix.
• The chair geometry is developed through low-poly subdivision modelling
• The subdivision mesh is exported to Rhino, and the mesh topology is
processed through a plug-in called Weaverbird.
• The refined mesh is analysed in the structural analysis plug-in-in Karamba
to discover principal stress distributions.
• The structural analysis is converted into a gradient heat map through the
associative modelling plug-in Grasshopper.
• A dynamic springs & nodes is utilised to "sphere pack" a variable density
cloud of points within the boundary of the mesh utilising the gradient
heat map as scalar distribution map.
• Each of the nodes of the network (the centres of the spheres) is extracted
as a point cloud, including the centroids of all boundary mesh faces.
• The composite point cloud of both sphere-packed volume and the
boundary mesh topology are used to generate a three-dimensional voronoi
• All voronoi cells outside of the original boundary condition are removed,
and the wireframe network of the cells is extracted to create the underlying
topology of the new mesh.
• The wireframe network is given a variable thickness and colour gradient
in relation to the heat map of its principal stress analysis through plug-in
This process was explored with limited success. Though we were able to
produce each step of the process—we were extremely limited by the resolution
of the packed mesh (number of points in the cloud) and the computational
power required to manipulate and generate them. Simply put, we did
not have the computational horsepower required to compute the density of
Figure 3: The proposed generative sphere packing process.
With a pressing deadline to have a piece ready for an exhibition deadline, our
time was limited and we needed to deliver a ready to print 3D file to Stratasys
in less than one month in order to meet the deadline for the project. As
a result, the computationally generated process was abandoned and a highly
laborious manually generative process was applied.
• The base subdivision mesh is imported to Rhino via Maya to use as the
boundary topology of the model, with a series of mesh refinements
with the plug-in Weaverbird.
• A sequence of 3D offsets creates a series of "onion" like layers of skin,
with both intersecting and self-intersecting areas of each mesh being
removed. As such, the layers continuously shrink as they offset towards
the centre of the volume.
• Grasshopper is used to extract the vertices of each layer of the meshes.
In particular, the organisation of the exterior layer's points are important
and as such are extracted through a separate process as a means of
maintaining the topology of the surface structure. The points within the
inner volume of the boundary mesh are extracted at variable densities
towards the centre.
• The resulting composite point cloud is processed as a 3D voronoi structure.
The wireframe of the 3D voronoi is extracted as a wireframe network.
• A series of attractor curves are manually constructed at specific places
111 Gradient Logics: The Durotaxis Chair
the Institute for System Dynamics and the Institute of Construction Materials
at Stuttgart University.
Mix Designs for Functionally Graded Concrete
Concrete components can be functionally graded by arranging varying porosities,
adding a diverse range of aggregates (including hollow spheres or
aggregates with selected levels of rigidity), using various types of concrete,
or combining these methods with each other. In the first step, two extreme
concrete mixes are defined to determine relevant boundary conditions. A
high-strength fine-aggregate concrete is selected as the extreme at the load
bearing end of the functional gradation range. The porous extreme of functionally
graded concrete, the so-called core mix, is made from a no-fines
lightweight concrete mix with a porous matrix (Faust, 2003). Structural characteristics
are enhanced by minimising porosity, whereas thermal insulation
properties are improved and the own weight reduced by maximising porosity.
Properties can be freely varied between these two mixes by adjusting
porosity within the defined limits. In this project, gradation included seven
steps to define trends and transitions of material properties. The characteristics
of hardened concrete can be correlated to porosity. Structural parameters
such as strength and rigidity decrease as the air void ratio increases,
whereas thermal properties are enhanced, including a decrease in thermal
conductivity λ (figure 1). Testing of hardened concrete parameters of these
mix designs confirmed this known dependency on bulk density.
Figure 1: Curves of hardened concrete characteristics depending on a gradual increase in porosity.
Production Processes for Components Made from Functionally
The homogeneous mix designs conceived in the first step were used to
develop production processes that enable a shift from "stepwise gradation"
to a virtually seamless pattern. Some of these methods are outlined in the
following sections of this paper.
Further tests with respect to concrete printing, controlled segregation, infiltration,
graded mixing, and production with reversible placeholders are
described in the final report published for the "Gradientenwerkstoffe im Bau-
wesen" ("Functionally Graded Materials in Construction Engineering") project
(Heinz et al., 2011).
This method allocates the individual available mixes to various areas within
the element so as to meet the respective specifications. The number and
thickness of layers and the mix design variation from one layer to the next
make it possible to control the discontinuities in the material characteristics
that occur at the interfaces of the component layers. The properties of the
individual layers can be managed with pinpoint precision by selecting the
most appropriate concrete mix. The wet-in-wet casting process ensures a
firm bond of the layer boundaries thanks to a sufficiently fine resolution.
Figure 2 shows the production of a scaled beam from functionally graded
concrete for the four-point bending test using a reverse process. The beam
comprises three layers both in vertical and horizontal direction.
Figure 2: Production of a functionally graded concrete beam in a layered casting process.
Graded Spraying Technique
Compared to layered casting, the spraying method provides a number of
advantages. Whereas introducing compaction energy into cast graded concrete
elements may eliminate the previously defined controlled gradation,
the use of the spray technique to produce graded elements does not require
subsequent compaction because the concrete is compacted already upon
the impact. Application of the material in thin layers enables a fine resolution
and concrete placement on curved formwork. Furthermore, this process can
be automated and implemented both at the precast plant and on the construction
site (using large-scale robotics in the latter case).
The "Functionally Graded Materials in Construction Engineering" project included
the development of a graded spraying technique using two homogeneous,
pumpable concrete mixes. Gradation is established in the spray head
or spray mist by adding compressed air.
127 Functionally Graded Concrete
All Is Behaviour
"A true architecture of our time will have to redefine itself and expand
its means. Many areas outside of traditional building will enter
the realm of architecture, as architecture and "architects" will have
to enter new fields. All are architects. Everything is architecture."
(Hollein, 1968, p.2)
There are no blueprints or master plans for our future, when science fiction
has become fact; architecture today has to move beyond representation and
the fixed and finite tendencies that declare what architecture should be and
work towards what it could be. Within these evolving territories new models
by necessity must conceptualise our ever evolving present and the uncertain
and latent world with which we operate within. The once comfortable
and understood orthodoxies in architectural thinking have proven limited in
their capacity to engage and address our contemporary condition. Today,
the intersections of information, life, and matter display complexities that
suggest the possibility of a deeper synthesis. As we live in ever-evolving
information-rich environments, the question is not why but how architecture
can actively participate.
Architecture in this expanded field of experimentation should be understood
beyond building, beyond materiality and the inert tendencies that conventionally
define it. Constructing a framework to explore architecture today
is complex with the unfortunate tendency to rely on other fields to give it
intellectual legitimacy or worse, defaulting to conservative models of the
past, which only reinforce habit. Architecture within this article is argued as
a means to interrogate the contemporary condition and to provide means
with which to operate within it. In a time when terms of reference are con-
tinuously in need of revisiting and language may be limited in expressing our
capacity to communicate with each other, design offers a way to understand
A Thought on the Multi-Material
György Kepes (1965, p.2) once proclaimed:
"In our new conceptual models of nature, the stable, solid world
of substance, which in the past was considered permanent and
preordained, is understood as widely dispersed fields of dynamic
energies. Matter—the tangible, visible, stable substance in the old
image of the physical world—is recast today as an invisible web of
nuclear events with orbiting electrons jumping from orbit to orbit."
The tendencies that once served to categorise the natural and the manmade
worlds have been rendered obsolete. When distinctions of the real
and artificial, human and non-human fail to offer insight, the challenge is how
best can we design for a latent and unknown world. Within this uncertainty,
new conceptual terrains emerge that raise questions of agency and intelligence.
Hans Hollein's provocative 1968 contribution in the journal Bau titled
Alles ist Architektur (Everything is Architecture) may offer some insight when
he stated, "Man creates artificial conditions. This is architecture. Physically
and psychically man repeats, transforms, expands his physical and psychical
sphere." Within the context of this publication the question of "multi-materiality"
should be problematised, as the promise and power of its provocation
is in as much how we fundamentally rethink our conceptual apparatuses as
well as our means of production. Beyond printing technologies and fabrication
techniques that allow for material based manufacturing an opportunity
to reconceptualise high-resolution frameworks that are polyscalar and time
dependant are at play. It is the speculative capacity to invent and construct
alternative models that affords architecture its capacity to engage and make
things accessible, prototyping ideas as much as the host environments that
may play witness to them. The architecture model that I argue for is active,
anticipatory, and adaptive through continuous exchanges that are real time
and behaviour based. It would be through considering materiality as something
that is not inert and finite but that is life-like, evolving, and aware that
we can consider new relations with processes that constitute things. Materials
go through phase changes, have life cycles, and degrade. Could multimateriality
afford us a means to exploit these processes? If Hollein believed
"All is Architecture" today I would argue, "All is Behaviour."
149 All Is Behaviour
Martyn Amos, is Professor of Novel Computation at Manchester
Metropolitan University. His research encompasses complexity, natureinspired
computing and synthetic biology. He is the author of Genesis Machines:
The New Science of Biocomputing, and co-editor of Beta-Life, a
new collection of "science into fiction" stories centred on artificial life.
Rachel Armstrong, is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the
Department of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University.
She is also a 2010 Senior TED Fellow establishing an alternative approach
to sustainability that uses the computational properties of the natural world
to develop a twenty-first century production platform for the built environment,
which she calls "living" architecture.
Stefan Bassing, studied at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart.
In 2012, as a scholar of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).
He continued his research at the Bartlett GAD focusing on contemporary
design methodologies involving computation and object-orientated
research. He is currently a unit tutor at GAD and a designer for Zaha Hadid
Francis Bitonti, uses computational methodologies and smart
materials to create new aesthetic languages for the built environment. His
work has been published internationally in institutions including the Cooper-
Hewitt Smithsonian Museum and most recently has garnered media coverage
for his 3D printed gown for fashion icon Dita von Teese. He lives in New
York where he runs his design practice.
Roberto Bottazzi, is an architect, researcher, and educator based in
London. He runs UD Research Cluster 14 at the Bartlett and a Master Studio
at the University of Westminster. He has previously taught at the Royal
College of Art and studied in Canada and Italy. His research analyses the
impact of digital technologies on architecture and urbanism through both
practical and theoretical works. His coming book Digital Architecture beyond
Computers: Fragments of a Cultural History of Computational Design will be
published by Bloomsbury in 2017.
Kostas Grigoriadis, holds a Master in Architecture and Urbanism
degree from the Architectural Association's Design Research Laboratory.
He has been a Diploma Unit Master at the AA since 2011 and an External
Examiner in Architecture at the University of East London since August
2015. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Architecture by Project at the Royal
College of Art in London that focuses on multi-material design methodologies.
He has previously worked at Foster and Partners and held a Visiting
Lectureship at the RCA.
Graham Harman, is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the
Southern California Institute of Architecture (on leave from the American
University in Cairo). He is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently
Immaterialism: Objects and Social Theory.
Michael Herrmann, studied civil engineering at the University of
Stuttgart and the University of Calgary. Between 2007 and 2009, he was
structural engineer at Werner Sobek Stuttgart and from 2009 until 2015 he
has been engaged as a research associate at ILEK in the University of Stuttgart.
His work focuses on functionally graded concrete and energy efficient
construction. In 2012 he co-founded str.ucture GmbH, an engineering company
committed to the development of innovative lightweight solutions.
Alvin Huang, AIA is the Founder and Design Principal of Synthesis
Design + Architecture. He is an award-winning architect, designer, and
educator specializing in the integrated application of material performance,
emergent design technologies and digital fabrication in contemporary architectural
practice. His wide ranging international experience includes significant
projects of all scales ranging from hi-rise towers and mixed-use
developments to bespoke furnishings.
Lambros Malafouris, MPhil, PhD (Cambridge) is a Research and
Teaching Fellow in Creativity, Cognition, and Material Culture at Keble College
and the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford. His primary research
interests lie in the archaeology of mind and the philosophy of material
culture. His publications include How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory
of Material Engagement (2013) and Material Agency: Towards a Non- Anthropocentric
Approach (2008) among others.
Panagiotis Michalatos, is an architect and lecturer in architecture
at Harvard GSD. He has worked as a computational design researcher for
AKT in London, where, he provided consultancy and developed computational
solutions for high profile projects. Panagiotis has also worked as a
performance space interaction designer in a long-lasting collaboration with
dance company CCAP.
Andrew Payne, is an architect and Senior Building Information
Specialist at Case-Inc. He holds a doctoral degree from Harvard's GSD and
a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University. Andrew's research
focuses on smart buildings, robotics and 3D printing. He has lectured and
taught workshops at institutions throughout the US, Canada, and Europe
and has held teaching positions at Columbia University and the Pratt Institute.
Daniel Richards, is a Lecturer in Data Prototyping and Visualisation
at Lancaster University. His research combines design, unconventional
computing, and digital fabrication to explore the future of manufacturing.
His on-going work focuses on generative design for additive manufacturing
and new ways of making complex structures with finely tuned physical
Werner Sobek, is an architect and consulting engineer and heads
the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design. From 2008
to 2014 he was Mies van der Rohe Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology
in Chicago and guest lecturer at numerous universities in Germany,
Singapore and the US among others. In 1992, he founded the Werner Sobek
Group, offering premium consultancy services for architecture, structures,
facades and sustainability.
Theodore Spyropoulos, is an architect and educator. He directs
the innovative architecture and design studio Minimaforms and is the Director
of the Architectural Association's world renowned Design Research Lab
(AADRL) in London. He has been a visiting Research Fellow at MIT's Center
for Advanced Visual Studies and co-founded the New Media and Information
Research initiative at the AA. He has taught in the graduate school of
the UPENN and the Royal College of Art, Innovation Design Engineering
Brett Steele, directs the Architectural Association School of Architecture
and has taught and lectured at schools throughout the world. Brett
is a frequent writer, lecturer and critic, and his interests include the history of
modern architectural education and cultural communication, and the impact
of new media, information economies and networked design technologies.
Alexandros Tsamis, is a trained architect, currently an Associate
Professor and Head of the Post Professional Graduate Program in the
School of Design at Adolfo Ibañez University in Santiago, Chile. He holds a
Diploma in Architecture and Engineering from AUTh in Greece, a SMArchS
(Building Technology) and a PhD (Computation) from the MIT Department
of Architecture. Previously, Tsamis has been a lecturer at MIT and faculty at
The Ohio State University.