CALLIPOD is the final working prototype of the AA Summer DLAB, which occurred between the AA’s campuses in London and Hooke Park over a period from 21 July – 08 August 2014. As the outcome of an investigation which has explored earth scaffolding, fabric formwork, and concrete materiality, CALLIPOD is a 2.1 meters tall and 4.4 meters wide pavilion, realised over a period of one week The means of exposing the structural behaviour of concrete across its fluid nature were the starting point of the research agenda. Throughout the design explorations, the integration of structural and material properties of concrete with various architectural parameters which are essential in generating diverse spatial qualities have remained a major focus.
Image credit: Elif Erdine
The algorithmic setup for design explorations reflects the characteristics of self-organisation which are observed across a range of scales in biological systems. Initially, real-time generative form-finding methods based on branching and bundling systems in nature have been developed and simulated in the open-source programming environment Processing. A key influence in working with branching systems has been the motivation to contextualise the design outcome in the natural environment of Hooke Park. The digital simulations present a progression from the analog-optimised path experiments of Frei Otto, due to additional design constraints relating to gravity, UV mapping, and the ability to follow free form three-dimensional shapes. The outcomes at this stage have then been evaluated via FEA analysis, in Scan&Solve for Rhino and Karamba for Grasshopper respectively. Various iterations in order to meet optimum structural results have been generated before finalising the overall design. The final geometry has been marked on fabric via CNC router and then stitched together, thereby creating the fabric formwork for concrete casting. The scaffolding for the pavilion was assembled from earth, which forms a second point of integration with the environment of Hooke Park. After the process of concrete casting within the fabric formwork, the earth scaffolding has been removed and reunited with the surroundings.
Image credit: Valerie Bennett
One of the main objectives of Summer DLAB 2014 is teaching the progressive inter-relationship of different computational software that can enhance the quality and performance of architectural design. The workflow among various computational platforms allows for the testing of numerous geometrical assemblies followed by their construction via digital fabricating machines. In 2014, this was achieved through experimentation with various proposals during the first phase of the programme. Each design proposal included an algorithmic process showing a systematic design approach as well as the process of fabricating each concept at a certain scale. These initial experiments, which were conceived based on the theoretical framework of emergence, differentiation, and complexity, contributed greatly to the realisation of CALLIPOD’s fabrication process and structure during the second phase.
Image credit: Valerie Bennett
Conceived as a landmark piece in Hooke Park’s forest, the CALLIPOD pavilion is the centrepiece of the Summer DLAB 2014 programme and displays the architectural possibilities of using concrete in a non-conventional way, directly connecting the process of fabrication with the digital design methodologies. The architectural aim has been to combine a structurally efficient, natural form with elements of traditional materiality and to create a structure that is sustainable, welcoming and contextually linked to its environment.
The structure is made of a special concrete mix that enabled it to be cast, dried and held firmly in place, over a period of several hours without being limited by the constraints of applying conventional reinforcing systems such as rebar. For the realisation of the pavilion, the entire team of participants and tutors was divided into sub-teams and given a certain task. Each sub-team had their responsibilities and the site was converted into a construction site, following health and safety regulations. From a pedagogical point of view, this part has always been an essential component of Summer DLAB as it allows for a hands-on understanding of the demands involved in the construction of a 1-to-1 scale model.
Image credit: Elif Erdine
Balancing the intricate concrete branches that are visible from a distance with a more monolithic interior piece, the pavilion is characterised by two different experiential states. The concrete branches which emerge from the earth create a dome-like structure that houses a plinth-like seat. During the day time, the pavilion merges with its surroundings due to its form as well as its surface patterns that resemble a tree. One can then enter CALLIPOD and take a seat to enjoy the view from within the dome. The harmonised blending of CALLIPOD in nature changes during the night, when the central concrete plinth is illuminated. The special pebbles that are part of the seat begin to glow in the dark. Each day they get charged by the sun-light and then release that energy in the form of cyan light that distinguishes the structure from the rest of the forest by night.
Image credit: Max Winter
Throughout the duration of the programme, there have been numerous architectural discoveries that enabled us to move beyond the conventional methods of design and fabrication. Among its various achievements, Summer DLAB continues to inspire the avant-garde of young architects and architectural students.
Image credit: Alexandros Kallegias
AA Summer DLAB 2015
Monday 27th July – Friday 14th August 2015
Summer DLAB experiments with the integration of algorithmic / generative design methodologies and large scale digital fabrication tools. Continuing its color based agenda, Summer DLAB immerses in ‘red’ for its 2015 cycle, as a starting point to investigate principles of natural formation processes and interpret them as innovative architectonic spaces. These concepts are carefully interwoven with spatial, performance-based, and structural criteria in order to create full-scale working prototypes.
Summer DLAB, RED, will explore the phenomenon of decay in nature. By investigating the process of decay across various scales in natural organisms, we will formulate rules of generating decomposition as our design research area. These rules will then evolve into design strategies for the creation and fabrication of a large-scale prototype. The design and fabrication process will be informed by the use of robotic fabrication techniques in AA’s Hooke Park premises.
The three-week long programme is formulated as a two-phase process. During the two-week initial phase, participants benefit from the unique atmosphere and facilities of AA’s London home. The second phase, lasting for a week, shifts to AA’s woodland site in Hooke Park and revolves around the fabrication and assembly of a full-scale architectural intervention which unifies the design goals of Summer DLAB.
Prominent Features of the programme/ skills developed:
- Teaching team: Summer DLAB tutors are selected from recent graduates / current tutors at the AA. Participants engage in an active learning environment where the large tutor to student ratio (5:1) allows for personalized tutorials and debates.
- Facilities: AA London houses cutting-edge facilities for the fabrication of physical outputs through digital fabrication techniques or other forms including the use of plastics, wood, and metal. Digital Prototyping Lab (DPL) offers laser cutting, CNC milling, and 3d printing facilities. The facilities at AA Hooke Park allow for the fabrication of one-to-one scale prototypes with a 3-axis CNC router, various woodworking power tools, and robotic fabrication.
- Computational skills: The toolset of Summer DLAB includes but is not limited to Rhinoceros, Processing, Grasshopper, and various analysis tools.
- Theoretical understanding: The dissemination of fundamental design techniques and relevant critical thinking methodologies to the participants through theoretical sessions and seminars forms one of the major goals of Summer DLAB.
- Professional awareness: Summer DLAB performs as a simulation of the professional environment due the priority given to team-based design approach. Participants ranging from 2nd year students to PhD candidates and full-time professionals experience a highly-focused collaborative educational model which promotes research-based design and making.
- Fabrication: According to the specific agenda of each year, a one-to-one scale prototype is fabricated and assembled by design teams.
- Lecture series: Taking advantage of its unique location, London, Summer DLAB creates a vibrant atmosphere with its intense lecture programme conveying the diverse expertise of professionals from some of the world’s leading practices in the areas of digital design and fabrication techniques.
The workshop is open to architecture and design students and professionals worldwide.
Participants receive the AA Visiting School Certificate with the completion of the Programme.
The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £1964 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting Membership fee. A non-refundable deposit of £381 is required when registering with the online form – with the remaining balance due to be paid by the deadline for applications.
The deadline for applications is 20 July 2015. No portfolio or CV is required. The online application can be reached from:
Return train tickets between London-Hooke Park, accommodation & food in Hooke Park, and materials from Digital Prototyping Lab (DPL) are included in the fees.
The London phase of AA Summer DLAB will take place during 27 July – 08 August 2015. From 08 August onwards, we will be located in Hooke Park until 14 August 2014.
Participants need to make their own arrangements for the London-based part of the programme.
For more information, please visit:
Elif Erdine (AA Summer DLAB Director):
Alexandros Kallegias (AA Summer DLAB Director):