As the discipline of Architecture is inheritably connected to that of Technology, there is an everlasting need for architects to keep in touch with novel design, production, and fabrication processes, while simultaneously reflecting on the emerging role of the architect in response to the changes in the discipline. In 2015, AA Istanbul Visiting School has acted as a training centre as well as a research agency for young architects and professionals who seek to advance their skills and experience in the field of architecture.

Facade installation, perspective view

Facade installation, perspective view

AA Istanbul Visiting School, a collaboration between the Architectural Association (AA) and Istanbul Bilgi University, took place during 15 – 24 June 2015 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. Continuing its expertise on generative design methodologies and large-scale prototyping techniques, the programme investigated material behaviour and its limitations as design drivers. While the toolset of the programme included Rhinoceros, Processing, and Grasshopper, students explored the inter-relation between analog and digital design techniques through experimentation with scaled physical models and computational methods. As contemporary architectural processes point out to a significant diversion from linear parametric tools towards generative design thinking, the structure of the programme emphasized the design process rather than the final outcome through the employment of computational simulations and digital prototyping. Finally, the techniques employed were tested with the design and fabrication of a one-to-one scale architectural structure.

Lighting pattern tests

Lighting pattern tests

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 2015, the lecturers included Xavier de Kestelier (Partner – Foster+Partners, Director – SmartGeometry) and Tobias Nolte (Co-Founder – Certain Measures, Director – Gehry Technologies). During the first part of the programme, participants organize into design teams, working on the shared design brief through design experiments and scaled physical models. The outcomes of this stage are unified towards the identification of the final design proposal according to a set of predefined design criteria. At this stage, students and tutors form one large design team working towards the fabrication and assembly of the final prototype with digital and hands-on techniques.

Facade installation, night view

Facade installation, night view

How can we alter the perception of an existing architectural element through intervention? During AA Istanbul Visiting School 2015, design explorations have revolved around this problematic, whereby the existing architectural element has been defined as the entrance façade of Istanbul Bilgi University Department of Architecture. The design brief has been the creation of a complex partitioning system that acts as a parasitic addition to the façade. This task has been investigated by focusing on a combination of structural, morphological, and contextual factors which the design intervention was expected to respond to in order to differentiate its material and geometrical organization. The main objective of large-scale fabrication is to investigate the prototype as an “analog machine”, whereby participants can examine the transformation of systems they have devised in digital simulations into material configurations embedded with specific types of data. In this respect, it is crucial to consider real world constraints such as gravity, physical forces, and loads in the digital simulations in order to create analogous correlations between the computational and physical paradigms.

Assembly process

Assembly process

Physical material investigations have been based on the use of vacuum-forming techniques with an innovative approach, whereby the principles of vacuum forming have been transformed into design inputs. This approach has enabled the simultaneous inter-relation of digital and physical experiments. For the fabrication of the facade installation, design explorations focused on form-finding techniques with PVC, a material which is durable for external weather conditions, through the implementation of vacuum-forming processes. The changes in the material behaviour of PVC due to various vacuum and temperature settings were analysed and catalogued. This information served as design parameters for digital design variations.

Facade installation, close-up view

The final installation, with dimensions of 9 meters in length and 3 meters in height, integrates basic design parameters such as texture, light, shadows, colours, and light transmittance. While the installation acts a secondary skin during the day, at night it becomes imbued with varying patterns of light, exposing the varying levels of transparency and shadow among its individual elements.

Front view

Front view

Throughout the duration of the programme, emphasis has been kept on enhancing the applied learning experience combined with the high level of productivity to complete a project in a short period of time, a responsibility shared by the participants and tutors alike. In this setup, the knowledge of every individual has been acknowledged and synthesized into a broader and collective creative force. Moreover, the successful collaboration between the AA and Istanbul Bilgi University has expanded a highly creative platform where the academic and research-based interests of the two institutions are integrated for current and future audiences.

The upcoming AA Istanbul Visiting School will be held at Istanbul Bilgi University during 13-22 June 2016. For more information and details, please click here

Project Credits

AI | AA Istanbul Visiting School 2015 : CELLULAR INTERVENTIONS
Architectural Association School of Architecture in collaboration with Istanbul Bilgi University
Monday 15 June – 24 June 2015

Programme Director: Elif Erdine
Host School Coordinator: Sebnem Yalınay Çinici
Visiting School Director: Christopher Pierce
Tutors: Aslı Aydın, Cemal Koray Bingöl, Dağhan Çam, Elif Erdine, Alexandros Kallegias, Benay Gürsoy Toykoç , Tuğrul Yazar
Students: Simge Diken, Gizem Akın, Özgüç Bertuğ Çapunaman, Oğuzhan Çokgunlu, İlkan Cemre Acar, Sezen Kıvılcım Sözeri, Deniz Çelik, Esin Bilge Çelik, Pınar Aksoy, Merve Başot, Verda Ayşe Sezgin, Çağla Şaşmaz, Damla Aydın, Berk Ekmen, Merve Boy, Dilara Kayacan, Elif Doğan, Elif Sena Arabacı, Yıldırım Erbaz, Eslam Abd El-Khalek, Doruk Biçgi, Yunus Emre Demirkıran, Bilge Kardelen Bekiroğlu, Burak Ertuğrul Güney, Dilruba Ağaçcıoğlu, Ceren Bilen, Simay Uluca, Lara Alkhouli, Sarah Abu Al Hamail, Samera Taye, İrem Papila, Sara AL Jabi, Song Ren, Elif Beyza Öngüt, Youssef Ibrahim, Levent Özruh, Jing Wei Qian, Ariss Majid, Emine Ece Emanetoglu, Seda Öznal, Ilknur Güngör.

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