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Architectural Association School of Architecture, in collaboration with Istanbul Bilgi University (13 – 22 June 2016)

The acceleration of technological growth has been at the forefront of the 20th century, generating a substantial impact on each course of human life, from everyday gadgets to advances in nanotechnology. The inherent possibilities in technology continuously pose themselves as an area for innovation in architecture, while simultaneously challenging its processes, practices, and associations with other fields. AA Istanbul Visiting School continues to address the impact of technology on architecture by expanding on the subjects of computational skill-building, advanced digital fabrication, and design collaboration. AA Istanbul Visiting School, a collaboration between the Architectural Association (AA) and Istanbul Bilgi University, took place during 13 – 22 June 2016 in Bilgi University’s SantralIstanbul Campus. The international programme hosted 40 students from Turkey and abroad, instructed by 8 tutors from the AA and Bilgi University.

Courtesy of Elif Erdine

The agenda of the international workshop has focused on the design and fabrication of a self-standing structure through the integration of computational and robotic processes. The computational setup for design explorations reflects the interactive associations between various tools as fundamental catalysts in recognizing the ways of associating digital experiments with fabrication constraints. In this respect, students were initially presented with basic principles of computational thinking and methods with Grasshopper. Simultaneously, in line with the design goals of the programme, introductory seminars on the structural principles of vaults and operational properties of robotic manipulators were conducted. These seminars were coupled with sessions on advanced computational tools, RhinoVault, Karamba, and KUKA|prc, which enable the employment of structural and robotic principles for architectural purposes.

AA Istanbul Visiting School programme is organized to expose the participants to a systematic and carefully designed structure that includes software sessions, design seminars, studio tutorials, and lectures from internationally known professionals. In 2016, the lecturers included Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu (Associate Director – Zaha Hadid Architects), Dr. Matthias Rippmann (Block Research Group, ETH Zurich), and Sina Mostafavi (Hyperbody, TU Delft).

Courtesy of Asli Ersan

The capacity to simultaneously inform digital and physical experiments has been one of the major methodological goals of the programme. Physical investigations were based on the use of Robotic Hot Wire Cutting (RHWC) as a form-finding tool, whereby the geometrical and physical principles of RHWC were transformed into design inputs. During the initial physical explorations and subsequent fabrication of the final prototype, medium-density EPS foam was used. In order to grasp the advantages and constraints of RHWC, students initially developed an analogue large-scale hot-wire cutter. With the use of this tool, they conducted a series of explorations to comprehend the geometrical properties of ruled surfaces and to calculate cutting time for a series of EPS blocks with varying dimensions. The results of these experiments provided essential feedback for the design and development of the final prototype. The initial stage of the programme comprised the design and development of a prototype proposal that explored the inherent associations between form, material, and structure through the implementation of RHWC principles for a vault structure by each design team. This stage was concluded by the selection of design concepts, structural form, fabrication and construction methods that could move further to the second stage based on predefined selection criteria.

Courtesy of Asli Ersan

In the second stage of the programme, students reorganized themselves into new teams for the design development, fabrication, and assembly of the final working prototype. The structural form of the prototype was generated and refined in RhinoVault, a Rhinoceros plug-in that implements Thrust Network Analysis (TNA) approach to create compression-only structures. The output created by this tool, a mesh, was subsequently subdivided in Grasshopper according to several criteria that included the hot-wire cutting time for an EPS block, the total amount of hot-wire cutting time available, and geometrical variations of cutting patterns. During this iterative process, each configuration option was further analysed with KUKA|Prc, the parametric robotic control add-on of Grasshopper. After the completion of the robotic fabrication process, the prototype was assembled within a short period of time.

From a pedagogical point of view, the programme has focused on the integration of digital design techniques between various design/architecture/analysis platforms combined with basic and advanced techniques of construction within a limited schedule. The entire process revolves around how students can develop their cognitive skills to comprehend the ways of transition from the digital paradigm towards physical fabrication and assembly processes with a fully hands-on experience. As digital and physical processes carry on equal weights during design and fabrication processes, students can associate algorithmic methods with their direct physical outcomes. Hence, the generation of rule-based, associative algorithmic models enhance a systemic approach towards fabrication and assembly sequences.

Courtesy of Asli Ersan

Parametric design processes and workflows are substantially redefining the role and responsibilities of the architect in contemporary design practices. Computational paradigm has reached a certain level of sophistication due to the advances both in hardware and software fields. It is a well‐known fact that computational methods are extensively used by designers and specialists of design‐related fields. This condition can reformulate the role of the architect away from getting involved with creating an end product according to rules/parameters, towards becoming the system designer whose task is to observe the outcomes of the system as it is continuously adapted on a multitude of interdependent levels.

The upcoming AA Istanbul Visiting School will be held at Istanbul Bilgi University during 28 June – 07 July 2017. For more information and details, please click here


Programme Director: Elif Erdine

Host School Coordinator: Prof.Dr. Sebnem Yalınay Çinici

Visiting School Director: Christopher Pierce

Tutors: Aslı Aydın, Cemal Koray Bingöl, Elif Erdine, Efe Gözen, Gamze Gündüz, Alexandros Kallegias, Benay Gürsoy Toykoç.

Students: Doğukan Aktaş, Mertcan Avcı, Şaziye Lofcalı, Golden Nadimi, İlkan Cemre Acar, Foad Sarsangi, Serkan Burak Can Çangır, Seda Öznal, Batuhan Uğurtan, Berk Ekmen, Yıldırım Erbaz, Özgüç Bertuğ Çapunaman, Nur Horsanalı, Elif Soylu, Marwa Altai, Yağmur Pelin Keleş, Laila Arafeh, Ayşegül Özarmut, Özge Saygan, Eylül Bulgun, Elham Karimi, Aylin Güler, Öznur Akpolat, Ela Bora, Tipp Bongers, Sevim Zeynep Kaçar, Raazia Hasnain Nanjee, Melani Kuruğoğlu, Eda Esen, Kıvılcım Göksu Toprak, Nur Kayalı, Efe İnce, Konuralp Şenol, Öykü Özal, Derya Çiftnamlı, Mehmet Yunus Gümüş, Nur Sipahioğlu, Aslı Ersan, Madeeha Ayub, Dilara Hadroviç, Emil Traian Andrei Pop, Seetharam Venkata Vallabhaneni, Sai Prasad Bakthavalsalan, Omar El Geneidy, Selcen Fidan.

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