“No models, no moulds!”
Prof. DDr. Alberto T. Estévez
ESARQ (UIC), Barcelona, Spain
“No models, no moulds!”, en AA.VV., eds. Paulo Jorge Bártolo et al., Innovative Developments in Virtual and Physical Prototyping, pp. 211-214, Ed. CRC Press / Taylor & Francis Group / A Balkema Book, Londres (Gran Bretaña) / Leiden (Holanda), 2012
ABSTRACT: Working with artificial “DNA” (software), with computing elements, with application of real cybernetic processes to architecture, for automation of the robotized production of architecture digitally designed: Digital design and production seen as a genetic process. Knowing that “what can be drawn can be built”, because what can be drawn using digital tools has a digital DNA, that allows automated emergence, robotized self-construction and artificial growth. Using digital technologies for not producing more models or moulds as is habitual in today’s production systems [“NO MODELS, NO MOULDS!”], but to produce real architecture at the natural scale of 1:1, illustrated with the Barcelona Biodigital Pavilion, Barcelona Consulting rooms, Biodigital Barcelona Chair, Biodigital Barcelona Furniture, Biodigital Barcelona Lamps, etc. This is a move beyond the mass production of uniform elements, since digital design and production can equally produce 100 identical or 100 different parts.
1 “NO MODELS, NO MOULDS!”
“No models, no moulds!” is a Manifesto, is a cry, is a desire of advanced research in virtual and rapid prototyping that our entire world needs, for sustainability and efficiency using new biodigital technologies, and is what our Genetic Architectures Research Group, Biodigital Architecture Master’s Degree and Ph.D. Program wants: Related with topics like Biomimetics, Genetics and Bionic, Design for Bio Manufacturing & Design for Sustainability, Architecture and Art in application of biological and digital techniques, Model-making drawn from academia and professional practice. This is what this article contains: the presentation of new and innovative work that we do, from School and Office, from different aspects and some examples, Architecture, Design and Art digital approaches from Nature to digital fabrication (Estévez, 2002, 2003, 2010a, b, c).
1.2 New bio & digital techniques
Thanks to new bio & digital techniques, human beings can transcend a historical barrier, from only millenary action over the order of the “surface”, to a new action over the molecular order (Estévez, 2005a, b). Now humans can work on an intra-molecular level, towards the knowledge of the genetic orders of order: when the general visible order of bio & digital beings is controlled by bio & digital information’s chains (Estévez 2009a, b). Working on this level, one of the main advantages is that the control of this information’s chains allows the structure, form and skin “emergence”, with biological or digital processes, to become architecture. Done with materials that emerge, that “grow” alone thanks to self-organization systems, biological or digital, towards more precision, more efficiency, more sustainability. Also with the possibility of fusion & link of the mentioned information’s chains in biodigital architecture. Is a vast potential in a biological world if we work with DNA as if it was biological software, and in a digital realm if we work with software as if it was digital DNA: This is the most peculiar application of genetics in architecture. Understanding that DNA and software are the same, information’s chains, natural or artificial, that produces orders (order) for self-organization, for autonomous growth, for emergence processes, for structure, form and skin emergence. Knowing that “what can be drawn can be built”, because what can be drawn using digital tools has a digital DNA, that allows automated emergence, robotized self-construction and artificial growth. And more than this today: “what can be captured (digitally) can be built”. You don’t need to draw anymore, if you can capture digitally something, even if it is impossible to draw, it is enough to make it digitally. We have seen it already done: you can build an instant, a movement, a twister, because you can capture it. Using digital technologies for not producing more models or moulds as is habitual in today’s production systems [“No models, no moulds!”], but to produce real architecture at the natural scale of 1:1.
1.3 For the first time, architects are waiting engineers
As the machines we have in our Digital Fabrication Workshop are of the known type of CNC machine, 3D Rapid Prototyping and laser cutter, we need to do a supplementary research for building in one to one natural scale without machines specially designed for architecture. How many time architects need to wait that engineers prepare the machines that architecture needs for it? This time architects go ahead of engineers in the visualisation of new constructions, not as the last centuries, because we know today exactly what we want, but engineers haven’t prepared tools really applied for the scale that architecture needs. When I have seen the big “3D printer” that has the entire building scale, Contour Crafting, I have asked quickly to the engineer that had created it, Behrokh Khoshnevis, located in USA: “I want to build the first entire 3D printed building of Spain (of Europe), how much costs your machine?” Half million Euros… Ok, nothing to do with our South European research standards.
Illustrated on these pages, for Architecture with the Biodigital Barcelona Pavilion (Fig. 1), for Interior Design with the Barcelona Consulting rooms (Fig. 2 and 3), for Furniture Design with the Biodigital Barcelona Chair (Fig. 4), for Objects Design, with the Biodigital Barcelona Lamps (Fig. 5) and for teaching (Fig. 6). This is a move beyond the mass production of uniform elements, since digital design and production can equally produce 100 identical or 100 different parts. And also illustrated for Art, wanted to integrate 3D pieces digitally produced from the images obtained after the research with the scanning electron microscope in the foreground of a photo’s series called “still alive” (Fig. 7).
2 RESEARCH AND PROFESSION
As it was discussed, we need to research first how to draw digitally and how to produce digitally, with the machines that we have, the architecture that we want at the natural scale of 1:1. Escaping from the temptation to do it manually, because sometimes it seams easier to do it in a manual way. This becomes a question of rigor and research discipline, to maintain the challenge of the digital production: the effort of arriving at a successful digital DNA. Then, the digital emergence advantages will give the advanced difference. This is what we research and do, at our Genetic Architectures Research Group, Ph.D. Program and Office (founded in ESARQ, UIC, Barcelona, year 2000). Beginning also with a microscopic research, for example about radiolarian and pollen structures, like natural systems that have been perfected during million’s years of evolution, until their high relation of efficiency/economy: heir application will take also these advantages. In this way started the studies for extracting the genetic rules and the structural parameters for application with digital tools. Having its digital DNA that let also the architectural design “emerge” alone, we have produced it and fabricated digitally, with the effort to fulfil with the manifesto “No models, no moulds!” Only directly digital produced elements in real scale 1:1 are “allowed”: after “biolearning” process, CAD-CAM technologies, CNC machines, 3D Printers, for producing directly real 1:1 scale architecture, from genetic architectures points of views.
When we talk about an academic context, at our Biodigital Architecture Master’s Degree and Ph.D. Programme (founded in year 2000, like the first systematic official post-graduate programme on these subjects, at ESARQ, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona) we allow models (Fig. 6), only waiting for engineers. We allow the advanced research in virtual and rapid prototyping of models: knowing and explaining the nowadays availability limitations of today’s technology. Yes, the architecture is waiting for the engineering, far away for an easy real application of digital fabrication today in the conventional development of our profession as architects. At the same time that, of course, we teach also research objectives for producing real architecture at the natural scale of 1:1.
4 AS CONCLUSION, AS EPILOGUE…
But it’s not enough to work with the last digital techniques. The change to the fusion of the biological techniques with the digital techniques must be initiated, and seams that artists go ahead of architects. Humanity has the responsibility of having a future. And this will only happen across biodigital architecture, which will use the advantages that are given by the new biological and digital techniques. In fact, genetic engines are the ones that move both, similar genetic principles that are in the basis of biological and digital (Estévez 2007a, b).
As the expressionists of the beginning of XX Century saw on the Christ of Grünewald a precedent, the geneticists of the beginning of XXI Century must see in the Garden of El Bosco the same precedent, both with half a millennium of antiquity. It is normal that starting with this change I am addressing to a qualified forum that knows already about digital techniques. The forum that must begin to be worried for crossing it with biology, genetics, real life, not only virtual, which was a necessary first step. An effort is needed for reaching maturity also with the use of biological techniques applied to architecture, in the way that also “The Bioplasticity Manifesto” justified. For not losing a precious time, I hope that this won’t be a question for only new generations…
Now that extended reality and augmented reality are fashion’s ideas, for an understanding of ourselves in front of nature, when we can take profit of genetics, we can think that human beings becomes “extended nature” and “augmented nature”.
From one side, every form, structure and skin in nature follows a function, yes, but across infinite variations (biodiversity) for the same physical-physiological function, for the same necessity, like digital techniques already allow. And we, like human beings, after the physical-physiological necessities, have psychological-emotional necessities (often existentially most important) that, on the other hand, art & architecture need also to solve: artistic and architectural idea & form follows function, necessities that only human beings have, the most human functions. At the end this is an efficient justification against the superficial criticism that are normal about digital architecture, about the new possibilities that digital techniques allow.
These are also the functions that art & architecture need to follow: not more form only follows function, in the physical-physiological dogmatic way that rational-functionalism have understand. We can understand that, as human beings, we have other “functions”, other “extended” and “augmented” necessities that animals and plants don’t have. But we are also “nature”, and in our functions of solving necessities ourselves and what we can do with genetic techniques become “extended nature” and “augmented nature”…
Alberto T. Estévez (Barcelona, 1960), Architect (UPC, 1983), Architecture Ph.D. of Sciences (UPC, 1990), Art Historian (UB, 1994), Art History Ph.D. of Arts (UB, 2008): With professional office of architecture and design (Barcelona, 1983-today: see examples Figures 8, 9). Teaching in different universities for more than 30 years, in the knowledge’s areas of architectural design, architectural theory and art history, until founding the ESARQ (UIC, 1996), where he teaches like Professor in Architecture, after being its first Director. He founded also two research lines with two masters’ degrees and Ph.D. programmes: “Genetic Architectures / Biodigital Architecture” (UIC, 2000- today) and “History, Architecture and Design” (UIC, 1998- today). He has written more than one hundred publications and has participated in a large number of exhibitions, congresses and conferences around Europe, America and Asia. He has created the world’s first Genetic Architectures Laboratory (UIC, Barcelona, 2000), with -for first time- geneticists working with architectural objectives, in a real application of genetics to architecture. He is now Director of the Biodigital Architecture Master’s Degree and of the Genetic Architectures Research Group & Ph.D. Program, ESARQ (UIC), Barcelona (www.albertoestevez.com).
Estévez, Alberto T. 2002. Genetic Architectures. In VV.AA. Memorias: 406-409. Orlando (USA): CISCI.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2003. Genetic Architectures / Arquitecturas genéticas. In VV.AA. Genetic Architectures / Arquitecturas genéticas: 4-17. Santa Fe (USA) / Barcelona: SITES Books / ESARQ (UIC). (www.amazon.com)
Estévez, Alberto T. 2005a. Biomorphic Architecture / Arquitectura biomórfica. In VV.AA., Genetic Architectures II: digital tools and organic forms / Arquitecturas genéticas II: medios digitales y formas orgánicas: 18-80. Santa Fe (USA) / Barcelona: SITES Books / ESARQ (UIC). (www.amazon.com)
Estévez, Alberto T. 2005b. Genetic Barcelona Project / Proyecto Barcelona Genética. Metalocus,num.17:162-165.Madrid.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2007a. Arquitecturas Genéticas: “la casa perfecta”, o una casa no es una caja… In VV.AA., Arte, Arquitectura y Sociedad Digital: 1 and 117-122. Barcelona: Publicacions i Edicions Universitat de Barcelona. (www.artyarqdigital.com)
Estévez, Alberto T. 2007b. The genetic creation of bioluminescent plants for urban and domestic use. Leonardo, vol. 40, num. 1: 18 and 46. San Francisco-California / Cambridge-Massachusetts (USA): The MIT Press.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2009a. Al margen: Escritos de Arquitectura. Madrid: Abada.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2009b. Genetic Architectures III: new bio & digital techniques / Arquitecturas genéticas III: nuevas técnicas biológicas y digitales. In VV.AA., Genetic Architectures III: new bio & digital techniques / Arquitecturas genéticas III: nuevas técnicas biológicas y digitales: 14-33. Santa Fe (USA) / Barcelona: SITES Books / ESARQ-UIC.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2010a. Genetic Architectures Research Group, ESARQ (UIC). In VV.AA., eme3_2010: International Architecture Festival: 78-79. Barcelona: eme3 / CCCB / MACBA.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2010b. Application of Life information in Architecture: Biodigital Architecture and Genetics. In VV.AA., LIFE in:formation / On Responsive Information and Variations in Architecture ACADIA’2010: 168-173. New York (USA): ACADIA.
Estévez, Alberto T. 2010c. “Still alive”, landscapes and other fleshinesses / “Naturalezas vivas”, paisajes, y otras carnosidades. Barcelona: ESARQ (UIC).