November 19, 2017

JUST WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES TODAY’S ARCHITECTURAL DISCOURSE SO PROBLEMATIC, SO CONTRADICTORY? | 2017

by yannis zavoleas

vaneych_sellotape comp

Left: Aldo Van Eyck, Municipal Orphanage, Amsterdam, 1955-1960.

Right: Brandon Decosterd, Seamus Cahill, Claudia Smith, From Force to Form, UON, 2017.

 

Architecture is more than grid versus topology, analogue versus digital, pencil versus computer, rulers, T-squares and lines, concrete, steel, wood or plastic, machines, networks, cybernetics, technology, ratios and aesthetics, and the infinite number of -isms created to categorise its works; as each of these could be viewed as being separate from its broader context.

Architecture is about social engagement, spatial quality, inclusion, respect to nature and the sum of values that have outlined its humanistic scope.

Whatever means, tools, concepts, theories, materials, techniques, ideologies, ideas or references architects may appoint to express and to meet their goals, these cannot speak on behalf of the field’s higher purpose.

Sure, we as educators need to teach such things as means to achieve higher efficiency in setting and meeting design goals, but always in an open manner and while never confusing their role (and our students) by proposing their de facto pertinence in reaching such goals. A so-called good theory, means, or technique may produce bad architectural results (and there may still be value in discussing them), but the opposite may be true too, as a proposal may reveal a new potential of a forgotten or up-to-then dismissed input. Means should not set criteria in assessing architecture, but they may facilitate and provide better control of the design process and therefore they have an impact in the outcome, which is not to say they are ultimately responsible for it.

As educators, an important part of our role is to equip our students with a wide armament of means in dealing with design questions, also with a critical, exploratory attitude that should remain open to external influences and with increasing proneness to introduce novelty in the design process, in so doing, never causing any prejudice, or bias; the other important part of our role, one of major importance too, is to update architectural discourse, as the two parts meet each other in an aim for an architecture that redefines its purpose by reflecting its time.

The above fallacy has arguably caused the field to shrink in the broad consciousness of the academic and social mindset over many years, and it has been responsible for a great amount of waste of energy during harmful and unnecessary internal conflict. It is up to us as architects and primarily to the educators to put an end to it and to not transfer it to the next generations.

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November 9, 2017

SURFACE | 2017

by yannis zavoleas

netcans closeup

Undergraduate Design Studio, 2nd year, The University of Newcastle, Australia 

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Academic advisors: Mark Taylor, Peter Stevens

Tutors: Rebecca Boyle, Andrew Donaldson, Annemarie Dosen, Josephine Vaughan, Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare, Tom Dufficy, Tania Papasotiriou, Kalyna Sparks, Peter Stevens, Mark Taylor and Yannis Zavoleas

Online training resources: IDDA

This course focuses on the notion of surface in architecture. References drawn from a large pool of precedents of natural origin combined with advanced computational tools have offered new meaning and ways of appropriation of surface in architecture. First, the course draws upon manifestations of surface in nature in order to revisit common conceptions assuming architectural surface to be a flat element of same consistency and constant thickness and a consequence of standardising geometric norms, as these were founded in the modern aesthetics and construction techniques. With the new possibilities that have emerged due to digital technologies primarily related to CNC fabrication, it is generally conceded that geometricism, i.e. the analysing of complex forms to simple Euclidean shapes, soon may no longer be a prerequisite to construction. Such a prospect invites towards a complete turn in defining architectural surface from a fixed element to a malleable topological entity produced through its dynamic interactions with agents and data inputs defining a project.

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Prototype structures fabricated at full size

June 23, 2017

RE-MORPHING THE AMORPHOUS. CREATING NEW URBAN SUBSTANCE | 2016-2017

by yannis zavoleas

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Nanoscopic re-crystallisation patterns, nanoparticles in structural biology

KINE[SIS]TEM’17 From Nature to Architectural Matter

19-20 JUNE 2017, ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon Portugal

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Master’s Design Studio, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Advisor: Mark Taylor

Semester 2, 2016

Description

Design is viewed as a dynamic process whereby “amorphous” situations of the urban context are processed towards some kind of “re-morphing.” Metaphors from geology and biology are borrowed as an asset of references, concepts, ideas, modes of organisation, tools and techniques, aiding to develop strategies and propositions that are meaningful in architecture and the urban environment.

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January 4, 2017

RETHINKING ARCHITECTURAL VOCABULARY | ARCHITECTURAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION | 2016

by yannis zavoleas

le-duc-anatomy

19-Cent. anatomy drawing compared with Viollet-le-Duc’s organic structure

Full title: Rethinking architectural vocabulary. Comprehensive design resolution via integrated BIM platforms

Author: Yannis Zavoleas

Keywords: Dynamic simulation; agent-based; BIM; form-finding

Abstract: This paper revisits established practices in architecture related to the instruments of production and addresses their profound influences upon the design outcome. Cartesian geometry has been used as a common reference to represent architectural elements, a view that has been applied into mainstream design software. The enduring ideologies assume the architectural product to be the result of aesthetic-driven operations supporting geometric regularity in defining elements’ shape and relative positioning. These approaches are compared to alternative ones described as form-finding, making extensive use of the computer’s power, often deviating from Cartesian basis, setting the ground for contemporary design research. In these cases, architectural elements are topological compounds undergoing generative operations. Architectural form is seen as an organic output emerging from interactions, shared functions, performed relationships and feedback loops, rather than ones typically offering full aesthetic control. It is noted that processes related to data inputs, agent management, simulation and recursive testing generally applied to facilitate tectonic resolution via integrated BIM platforms may equally describe those of early design decisions. Such a prospect may set the framing to update existing BIM software, so that the phases of analysis, ideation and conceptualisation are linked with those related to further development, engineering, manufacturing and completion.

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Venue: Architectural Science Association 2016 official website

December 14, 2016

BIO-SHELTERS. DESIGNING REEF HABITATS AT THE SYDNEY HARBOUR | UNSW | 2016

by yannis zavoleas

Partners: University of New South Wales CoDe Society, University of New South Wales Biomedical Engineering, The University of Newcastle School of Architecture, Reef Design Lab, World Harbour Project, Macquarie University Biological Sciences

Concept: Yannis Zavoleas, Hank Haeusler, Andre Pereira, Beth Strain, Rebekah Araulo

Design: Yannis Zavoleas

Other contributors: Eliot Rosenberg, David Lennon, Alex Goad, Melanie Bishop, Vivian Cumbo, Maria Vozzo, James Gardiner

Description

Is it possible to design shelters where clams and other seashell organisms may feel more “at home,” as they will be protected, breed and thrive?

Sydney harbour has remarkable biodiversity, being one of the world’s healthiest ecosystems. Many of the species that live underwater are filter feeders, whose primary contribution in sustaining environmental balance is to clean the water by removing excess nutrients and pollutants. Due to increasing human population, pollution and climate change, the ocean is becoming a stressful environment for seashell organisms who live on rocky reef habitats. If those systems are continuously subjected to numerous stresses especially those related to human action, the strain is too much to endure and so they will perish.

The purpose of this workshop is first to study the conditions allowing reefs as marine ecosystems to survive; then, to design alternative shelters for the related species that will provide enough protection for them in order to breed and to thrive. Various digital and analogue tools used for dynamic simulation are employed to test reef structures as multi-agent systems with dynamic characteristics. Those systems are extremely versatile, agile and vital in maintaining environmental balance, meanwhile being very fragile, sensitive and threatened under the existing conditions. Key parameters influencing the viability of clam colonies are examined, leading to design propositions and prototypes about shelter units making compound reef structures. This study aims to reinforce the idea that applying dynamic simulation techniques is suitable for a wide range of design scenarios including our human settlements and the broader environment we live in.

bio-shelters-poster-compr

October 9, 2016

GRAPHICAL ANALYSIS | INTRODUCTION TO DIGITAL MEDIA | 2016

by yannis zavoleas

Undergraduate course, 1st year 2nd semester, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

Tutorial Supervisors: Yannis Zavoleas, Peter Stevens

Tutors: Shalini Gandhi, Anni Dosen, Darin Phare, Tim Burke, Katie Cadman, Tafara Mbara, Mark Spence, Josephine Vaughan, Louise Fischer

This project introduces graphical and textual ways for analysing architectural drawings, reduced to a set of conventions. Pixel-based digital techniques are employed to describe, isolate, extract and process data. Analysis assumes strong interpretive skills. It may call upon formal/scientific means such as diagrams, abstractions and other graphics to explain how different elements are being related and to create variations.

September 20, 2016

FOLDING EXPERIMENTS & MINIMUM STRUCTURES | MAY 2016

by yannis zavoleas

Undergraduate Course, 1st year 1st semester, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Credits (photo, left to right): Middle Row: Shane Man, Claudia Smith, Mat Percival, Yannis Zavoleas (tutor), Sammy Bailey, Liam Dwyer, Denise Hughes, Grazela Maria. Back Row: Desslene Whong. Front Row: Lachlan Dear, Seamus Cahill (absent: Justin Friemann).

Tutor: Yannis Zavoleas. Course Coordinator: John Roberts

This two-week project involves experimentation with folding techniques, as the results are mounted at an installation made of bamboo sticks and a rope. The students were asked to work in a group with their tutor and suggest a structure connecting the forest and the water at Glenrock Lagoon, south of Newcastle, Australia. It was decided that the installation would suspend from the ground and that the folded pieces would be attached to a 3D-wire structure, so that the whole would suggest a version of the sky with artificial clouds, or an organic-like gigantic spiderweb with bugs trapped onto it, as both ideas represent the surrounding nature. Through this approach, the students would become familiar with space-generating folding techniques, also with the behavior and performance of minimum-weight structures, by resolving the difficult problem to efficiently connect together and to sustain from trees the structure including the pieces mounted onto it.

December 11, 2015

THE MODEL AND ITS OPERATIVE SIGNIFICANCE IN ARCHITECTURE | ARCHITECTURAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION | 2015

by yannis zavoleas

zavoleas simulation of densities 2015

Simulation model testing progressive accumulation of densities

Full title: The model and its operative significance in architecture. Objects driving evolution in design research

Author: Yannis Zavoleas

Keywords: Model; objectile; cybernetics; bio-structuralism

Abstract: This paper draws upon the distinction between aesthetic and operative characteristics of models set for exploration in scientific and architectural research. Specifically, it weaves a link between Cache’s concept of Objectile and architectural models appointed for studying design’s inner logic also in reference to models describing biological functions. The outcome of this synergy is models that respond dynamically to variable data inputs and designated tasks. However, even when models are primarily applied as highly intellectual devices rather than ones being merely visual, still they cannot be detached from the formal idioms data is presented, compared and implemented with, set in reference to the graphic languages and the communication means by which content of any kind enters the architectural scene. As a response to this apparent incongruity, this paper delves into the operational role of models in the architectural making seen not as aesthetic objects, but rather as testimonial instances of a dynamic system in a continuum of recursive exploration and testing, further prompting to understand design as an experimental process undergoing phases of evolution, and so evincing architecture’s profound affinities with science.

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Venue: Architectural Science Association 2015 official website

March 24, 2015

TEACHING IS THE NEW LEARNING IN THE FOURTH YEAR ARCHITECTURE | THE UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE | 2014

by yannis zavoleas

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Drawing a clear line between the more prescriptive undergraduate model, the new fourth year Master of Architecture program is challenging academic staff and their students by providing greater scope to direct their experience. Course co-ordinator, Yannis Zavoleas, with support from Architecture’s Head of School Mark Taylor and two casual tutors, is driving a research-based approach to the course, where students are required to establish their own research aims and develop their own study briefs.

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December 4, 2014

MUTANT BODY DESIGN STUDIO | 2014

by yannis zavoleas

Master’s Course, The University of Newcastle, Australia

Course Coordinator: Yannis Zavoleas

tanker_cut_small

This studio aims to expand the body’s performative behaviours as these are manifested in its structure and logic, also in its relations among the parts and the metabolic functions directing its form. A found body is scrutinized through processes of analysis and then it is given new meanings through a series of transformations aiming to tie it to a new context. Analysis involves tracing literal and metaphorical meanings about the body, as these are later used as semantic tools to define architectural space and form. The list of references includes – but not limited to – behaviours associated with the body such as structure, symbiosis, prosthetics, trauma, deformation, anatomy, skin, covering/revealing, flows and actions.

Found Body Vs. Mutant Body

A found body is viewed as a weak topology whose inherent properties are rediscovered and reenacted, in so doing showing multiple potentials for rejoining with a new context. The body is an organic entity that constantly adapts to its environment for its survival. Adaptation involves dynamic exchanges between the body and its environment, expressed in the form of energy transformation and negotiation of different systems sharing the same resources. Due to adaptation, the body is constantly subject to mutation causing the emergence of new species.

The mutant body talks about systems whose overall characteristics and behaviour are addressed in relation to internal processes as well as to the environment. Systems, geometric shapes, patterns and other typological references may be viewed as dynamic entities. Mutation aids to understand the properties of architectural space as changing values that reflect upon different scenarios, described by relational rules. Properties become variants holding the body’s propensity to initiate coalitions, hybridizations and unprecedented mixtures. As with the organisms, the principles of form may be codified into a DNA-like code. Architecture’s code is set in response to multitude factors, causing structural transformations, mixed-use programs, typological variations and associations at different scales. Implementation, adaptation, local alterations due to changing conditions, all of these may be viewed as outcomes of negotiation between architectural species and their environment. An understanding of architecture as a mutant body helps to break from unnecessary preconceptions, in an attempt to reconcile between its generative causes and the final form.