Neri Oxman: On Designing Form

Neri Oxman is an architect and founder of MATERIALECOLOGY with the MIT Media Lab. Her work focuses on computational strategies for form finding; she chooses to define and design processes that generate form. She has published numerous papers and has contributed to various texts. Her work has also been featured at the MOMA for the exhibit “Design and the Elastic Mind“, which she designed four systems of processes. In this lecture posted by PopTech, Oxman discusses what the processes of nature can teach designers and how computational strategies defined by materials and the environment can expand the possibilities of the generation of form through algorithms and analysis.

Here is an excerpt of some of her thoughts in the video:

“Emergence can be defined by a spontaneous order, a self-organization, that appears in nature and natural processes. It can be studied on multiple scales; in the cells of plants and animals and in the traffic patterns of developed cities. Oxman points to processes in nature that are defined by the rules of biological functions and from which form are generated. Without a notion of the end result, the processes are based on their functionality, for example, how structural and efficient the stem of a plant is at supporting its weight and creating energy.

Oxman’s work is inspired by the quest for the origin of form and form finders of the 1970s that were led by material and environmental properties. Form, in this case, is an optimization of the function of a material in its environment – “what it wants to be”. Technology can and often is the guide that informs the exploration and eventually evolves from it. Oxman takes these notions many steps further with her work in “computationally enabled form finding”. The equation that she presents so simple that takes the variables of material properties and environmental constraints to generate form.

The inquisitiveness of Buckminster Fuller‘s designs for efficient structures was guided by the optimization of materials in form – such as a the geodesic dome. But his explorations of the Dymaxion automobile and house inpired ideas that pushed beyond what the materials wanted to be and into what the environment wanted to be, what society wanted to be – ideas that we are now reviving in our quest for sustainable architectural solutions. In the meantime, technology is taking nature many steps forward, rushing beyond the limits of what nature can do and defining a different existence that humans enjoy, setting us apart from the lifestyles of our ancestors.

And the tragedy that we have come upon is that our technological ambitions are destroying the earth and the natural processes that it relies upon. Somewhere in between the runaway advancements and the devastating effects they cause to our ecosystems is something Oxman calls “nature 2.0?. This is a considerable idea, involved with embracing the natural organizations of materials as well as their natural functions – so not just form, but also very explicitly function. She praises nature for being so efficient at multi-tasking: analysis, modelling and fabrication in one process.

In this model of “nature 2.0? and technology, the designer is an experimenter of generating options for forms under a variety of circumstances. Technology offers the tools to analyze, map and build upon observations and designers can use these tools in a variety of ways, some of which Oxman touches upon in her lecture.
The talk can get a bit heavy at times, but bear with it… it is an interesting thought and we wonder what it brings for us… especially the part of 3D printing parts of buildings and the part which she says – no separate wall no separate roof.. and that design exists because of 

Video via YouTube user PopTech.

New Terminal at Lucknow Airport / S. Ghosh & Associates

Courtesy of S. Ghosh & Associates

Architects: S. Ghosh & Associates
Location: Lucknow, India
Team: Sudipto Ghosh and Sumit Ghosh (Principle Designers) as well as Mitesh Kapadia, Rashmi Vakharia, Naeem Rushnaiwala and Ketan Bhartia (Associate Designers)
Terminal Area: 20,000 sqm.
Site Area: 56,000 sqm.
Total Cost: Approx. US $ 23 million
Photographs: S. Ghosh & Associates


Courtesy of S. Ghosh & Associates

Unlike most buildings that bear the influence of the place where they take root, the Airport terminal of Lucknow, seems like it has an additional obligation to the sky. The intention of the architect was conceived with the primal image of plane in mind, the design explores the aesthetics of flight through the large wing like cantilevers spanning 26 meters.

The folds of the roof bring in glare free natural light to large double height areas of the terminal.The airports belong as much to the ether that keeps the air-crafts buoyant, as to the cities to which they become gateways. The notion of flight and man’s mythic fascination with it is reborn in every child as he folds his paper plane to launch it into the sky. The paper plane with its supple, folded wings – the symbol for that elemental flight that catches our fancy as children – becomes the starting point for the design of Lucknow Airport.

Courtesy of S. Ghosh & Associates

The terminal building’s elevation to the sky resembles the folded wings of the paper plane. Large wing-like cantilevers on either side of the 200m long terminal building suggest lightness and swiftness. The building itself appears as a dynamic object preparing to take flight. Inside, the gently curving ceiling gives the feeling of being under the belly of a giant aircraft.

Courtesy of S. Ghosh & Associates

The design of the building does not labor to represent the culture and heritage of the city, instead gets imprinted with the architects’ own experiences: nightmares about an aircraft crashing down through the roof, the exhilaration of flight, lightness, the indented front of the city as it wraps around the Gomti river, the ruins of the British Residency after the 1857 mutiny-ancient and unhomely, etc. Frosted etchings on the glass façade of the building bear the intricate patterns of chikankari work, Lucknow’s famous embroidery work.

Ground Floor – Courtesy of S. Ghosh & Associates

The terminal is designed as a one and a half floor integrated terminal with clear movement paths for international and domestic travelers. There are two security holds on the ground floor for connectivity by bus and two on the first floor for approach to the aircraft through passenger boarding bridges. Three passenger claim belts of 60m lengths have been provided for the arriving passengers. Modern facilities of international standards are important for the country’s new terminals. These not only bring revenue to the airport but also make flying a much more pleasurable experience. 

The terminal building is friendly towards the physically challenged, there are no mobility thresholds and all floors are accessible by lift.

The structure is formed by a set of variable span portals with fixed connections spanned across by variable space trusses that form the final form of the ‘wings’. The design of the section of the portal has been arrived at using a composite of rolled sections forming an overall dimension of 733mm by 375mm. The maximum span of the portals is roughly 43m. The maximum cantilever achieved by the space trusses is 24m.

Structural Consultants: Descon United Pvt. Ltd.
MEP Consultants: Spectral Services Consultants
Landscape Architects: Design Accord
Lighting Consultants: Lighting Design Works
Acoustic Consultants: Suri & Suri
Glazing Consultants: Dema Consulting

Project Description provided by S. Ghosh & Associates.


The IoA SPRING CHALLENGE event was an international design workshop intended for architecture students to explore integrated digital design and fabrication tools.

Architectural Design is taught at this university as an integrated, multidisciplinary process. Following this tradition, the design process was enriched with structural testing of parametric models in Karamba, a structural analysis plugin for Grasshopper. The handling of virtual simulation methods in the fields of parametric and digital production was the primary focus of the workshop. This week long intense workshop did result in a full scale built structure.

Format & Output

The Challenge Program was organized as a six day event with 22 international students and 6 tutors. Introduction to Rhino/Grasshopper/Karamba was followed by project design development and daily reviews of student group projects which entered into a competition mode. The selected project was fabricated and assembled as a group effort. The event closed with an exhibition and presentation with guests. The output was a parametrically designed and digitally produced human scale structure fabricated out of corrugated cardboard.

We’d Wish such workshops were organized here in India too.. 

Students: Shota Tsikoliya, Lenka Januskova, Clemens Conditt, Tu?gen Kukul, Maria Smigielska, Ceren Yönetim, Maciej Chmara, Oana Bogatan, Djordje Stanojevic, Rene Meszarits, Andreas Quast, Marco Pizzichemi, Zhenyu Yan, Ji?í Vítek, Johanna Jõekalda, Raouf M. Abdelnabi, Özlem Altun, Tadeas Klaban, Abraham Fung, Artur Staškevitš, Benjamin Ennenmoser, Roberto Naboni

Instructors: Andrei Gheorghe, Bence Pap, Trevor Pat, Irina Bogdan, Clemens Preisinger, Moritz Heimrath

Location: University of Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria

Status: Student Workshop

Year: Spring 2012

Kent Bridges: The Eureka Skyway

First, it has a silly name, the “Eureka Skyway”. Lets just call it the M20 Ashford Footbridge. It links two retail parks either side of the motorway, and also acts as a gateway to Ashford itself, an indication to motorway users that perhaps something of significance can be found here.

The £8m bridge was designed by Nicol Russell Studios with Jacobs, and built by BAM Nuttall. It was installed in May 2011 and opened in September 2011. There were rumours before it opened that it suffered from “wobble”…

Three immediate precedents come to mind when viewing the Ashford bridge: Lancaster’s Lune Millennium Bridge (2001), and Newport’s City Footbridge (2006) are two. Closer to Ashford, Maidstone’s Lockmeadow Footbridge (1999) has a similar form. All four bridges share a resemblance to a giant crane, with twin masts tied together with cables, and a deck supported from cable stays. There are some structural advantages to this arrangement, chiefly that the angle of the cables supporting the deck is steeper, and hence they provide a stiffer and more efficient support. A significant disadvantage is that maintenance is more difficult, as cables are required with no low-level termination, making it more difficult to adjust or replace them in the future.

When the preliminary visuals for this bridge came out some time ago on the architect’s website, I thought it looked quite nice, appealing in its height and slenderness. In real life, the sheer scale of the bridge is much more difficult to accept. The bridge deck is roughly 100m long, with a 67m clear span. The masts are 38m high. It’s nowhere near as big as the Newport bridge (70m tall, 145m main span), but it’s still a very large structure to span a motorway. The span length is driven by the presence of two motorway slip roads, and a watercourse, forcing the bridge to be much larger than is normally required on motorways.

The bridge looks attractive enough when viewed from the motorway, but as a pedestrian it is quite overpowering. The masts tower far above you, and their angle of inclination makes them loom in a way that I don’t recall experiencing with vertical masts.

What seems like a simple enough cable system when viewed in elevation becomes not only complex but positively confusing from most other perspectives. This is true of the forestays, but doubly so for the backstays. As well as tying the masts back to anchorage foundations, these also support a secondary deck, which curves below the main deck and provides part of a shallow gradient ramp access to the bridge’s north end. The end result is a web of cables with little apparent visual order.

In the main span, the confusion is partly caused by the presence of a set of tie-down cables, two on each side of the deck, which anchor the foremast to the foundations. These are an odd presence on an asymmetric cable-stayed bridge, where normally the anchor cables are only required at the “rear end” of the bridge. Here, I guess the main deck is insufficiently heavy to hold the main masts in place on its own, or they are needed because the masts are offset to the side of the deck, or they minimise movement and vibration in the masts. Compare the Swansea Sail Bridge as an example of a cable-stayed bridge with an offset mast which doesn’t need to be tied down in this way (and where the mast has been more artfully shaped).

Below deck, the oddest feature is a Y-shaped strut which holds the deck in place, presumably to restrain either vertical or lateral movement, or both. It has a sort of “tacked-on” feeling. My initial thought was that a corbel from the masts would have been better, but it’s not clear which mast you would add the corbel too, and what the effect on structural behaviour would have been. The view from below also highlights the somewhat rudimentary details where the cables are anchored to the deck.

The approach ramps at each end of the bridge are also very heavy, largely because of their height above the surrounding ground. There’s a stone-walled ramp at the south end, and an earth mound at the north end, into which stairs and a spiral ramp are cut. Growth of landscaping over time will help soften these, but they weigh the bridge down rather than allowing its slenderness to float free.

Overall, it’s a bridge which had the potential to be great, but which is let down by the awkward resolution of many of the details. Notwithstanding the funder’s desire for a gateway structure, I found the sheer scale to be oppressive. The bridge at Swanscombe spanned the motorway with delicacy and modesty – the one at Ashford has neither.

Grasshopper + Firefly – Bloque motor 1.0

A parametric experimentation at the university of Madrid on how constructing a Basic gear assembly, and then operating the same through a chipset connected to grasshopper and firefly.

Its an interesting innovation and I believe its going to get someplace. What’s incredible is that its built over a free platform!!!

Top Architecture Offices Facebook Fan Pages

Well this one took me sometime to compile, but its here nevertheless…

Facebook has been a source of networking and “liking” people and their works. Heck even dead bods like janis joplin and Amy Winehouse have fan pages.. 

Here’s a ranking of architectural offices and their fans on facebook. What do you think are the factors for this popularity?

Do you think maybe it’s people that respect and admire these architects, and it’s reflected on their fan pages? Or is it that they have a hell amount of people working in their offices? Or perhaps that the areas they live in are quite net savvy.? I just can’t make head-no-tail of it. Since Jørn Utzon has just 230 likes while Schlaich has about 50… including me… 🙁

Amazing thing is that brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is on the top of the list. Do you think that at 103 years he knows he is the world leader in architects facebook fans?

Complete ranking, links and their fans:

  1. ALT arquitectura + obra / 508k ()
  2. Oscar Niemeyer / 361k ()
  3. Zaha Hadid / 291k ()
  4. Renzo Piano / 193k ()
  5. Santiago Calatrava / 192k ()
  6. Tadao Ando / 73k ()
  7. A-cero (Joaquín Torres) / 67k ()
  8. Peter Zumthor / 57k ()
  9. Herzog & de Meuron / 50k ()
  10. Jean Nouvel / 43k ()
  11. OMA – Rem Koolhaas / 39k ()
  12. Bunker Arquitectura / 29k ()
  13. SANAA – Sejima Nishizawa / 27k ()
  14. Toyo Ito / 21k ()
  15. BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group / 18k ()
  16. Peter Eisenman / 13k ()
  17. Richard Rogers / 13k ()
  18. Daniel Libeskind / 11k ()
  19. Alvaro Siza / 9k ()
  20. Norman Foster / 8k ()

The New BAUHAUS MUSEUM at Weimar

The construction of the New Bauhaus Museum is a project by the Klassik Stiftung Weimar. The planned museum will be built near the Weimarhallenpark and will present the Weimar collections of the State Bauhaus, which was founded in Weimar in 1919. The museum is scheduled to open in 2015.

The Gropius Collection, owned by the Klassik Stiftung Weimar, is the world’s oldest collection of original Bauhaus works. The collection was significantly expanded with the acquisition of the Ludewig Collection in 2010, which contained 1,500 objects of functional design dating from 1780 to the present, including important Bauhaus works. Aside from the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, the Bauhaus collection in Weimar is unarguably one of the world’s most important in terms of size and quality.


A total of €169,000.00 has been set aside for prizes, allotted as follows (all prizes incl. value-added tax; net
sums in parenthesis):
1st prize €55,000.00 (€46,218.49)
2nd prize €45,000.00 (€37,815.13)
3rd prize €32,500.00 (€27,310.92)
4th prize €20,000.00 (€16,806.72)
5th prize €10,000.00 (€8,403.36)
For commendations: a total of €6,500.00 (€5,462.18)


The funding body provided the following budget for the construction of Weimar’s new Bauhaus museum: 

cost of construction alone = sum for building (cost groups 300 + 400): €14.500,00 gross.

Design Challenge: 
Weimar owns a unique collection on the background, history and after-effects of “Staatliches Bauhaus“, which was founded there in 1919. In 1995 a temporary Bauhaus museum was set up. Thanks to a special funding programme run by the German government and the state of Thuringia, the Klassik Stiftung Weimar foundation was able to set up a new Bauhaus museum in Weimar. This project is part of the ‘Kosmos Weimar‘ master plan, which covers all the foundation’s facilities, giving Weimar the opportunity to set a succinct example in terms of architecture and urban development.

The purpose of the competition was to find the best solution both for the new Bauhaus museum itself and for the location’s urban development potential. The competition was to be split in two parts – he first stage of the competition was the development of a fundamental design concept, selecting a suitable location and tackling the open spaces surrounding it in the context of urban planning. Furthermore, the urban design concept in Stage 1 is to plan for a possible future museum extension and a kindergarten.

In the second stage of the competition the focus is on working in greater detail on the architectural and interior concept of the new museum building. The solution to the task is expected to fit in with urban planning, be architecturally innovative and sustainable, save energy and stand up to museological requirements.

On 16. March 2012 the international jury awarded two second-place and two third-place prizes and conferred three honourable mentions

The design proposal for the New Bauhaus Museum by Pedro Monteiro, Rodrigo Cruz, and Sérgio Silva establishes a volumetric relation with the Gauforum in regard to its location. The first thing you see is a tower of light. It leads the way. As you walk along the narrow line of Oskar Schlemmer’s logo, you are entering Bauhaus. As it gains depth, the two-dimensional design of the logo becomes a geometrical stone sculpture. Its occupation defines its architecture.

A first building, made of glass and steel, marks the beginning of the access route to the museum while a stone pathway leads to the museum entrance and the ground floor. This is where the social areas – foyer and café – are located The exhibition areas and the cinema are located in the underground floor, as well as a viewable depot for items from the Weimar Bauhaus collection. The depot’s location allows it to be a part of the exhibition, as well as to be used independently.

The exhibition areas are organized around a courtyard that may be used as an outside exhibition area, or as a venue for other events (Bauhaus Theatre, larger conferences, etc.). The floors above include the spaces where the access is more exclusive: the pedagogical areas on the first floor and the offices on the second floor.

The location of the exhibition areas under the ground is a consequence of the necessity to control their environment as much as possible. Since the terrain remains stable, those areas benefit from geothermal mass to reduce the need for insulation and mechanical control of the temperature. The courtyard organization, as a cloister, guarantees the natural circulation of air in those areas. The ventilated facade in stone assures that the rest of the building, where the environment conditions are not as demanding, is properly insulated and ventilated, reducing energy other expenditures.

The announcement of the winners officially concluded the architectural design competition. The two second-place prizes went to Johann Bierkandt (Landau) and the Architekten HKR (Klaus Krauss and Rolf Kursawe, Cologne). 

The two third-place prizes went to Prof. Heike Hanada with Prof. Benedict Tonon (Berlin) and Bube/Daniela Bergmann (Rotterdam)

Three honourable mentions were awarded to the proposals by Karl Hufnagel Architekten (Berlin), hks Hestermann Rommel Architekten und Gesamtplaner GmbH (Erfurt), and menomenopiu architectures/Alessandro Balducci (Rome).

The Klassik Stiftung Weimar will now begin negotiating with the four prize winners according to VOF procedure (Contracting Regulations for the Awarding of Professional Services). The jury provided the winners with recommendations for optimising their proposals in preparation for the VOF procedure.

All proposals of the second round of the competition are displayed at the Neues Museum in Weimar.

Expo 2012 Yeosu Pavilion : So what if we didn’t win the competition…

Thematic Pavilion EXPO 2012 Yeosu
Design: soma architecture, Vienna – Salzburg
One Ocean, Thematic Pavilion EXPO 2012 Yeosu, South Korea
The Thematic Pavilion for the EXPO 2012 planned by the Austrian architecture office soma will be opened in Yeosu on 12th of May. soma’s design proposal One Ocean was selected as the first prize winner in an open international competition in 2009 – one which Katayun and I had participated in. We did come reasonably close for our means, and surprisingly ahead than some architectural firms. 

The main design intent was to embody the Expo’s theme The Living Ocean and Coast and transform it into a multi-layered architectural experience. Therefore the Expo’s agenda, namely the responsible use of natural resources was not only visually represented, but actually embedded into the building, e.g. through the sustainable climate design or the biomimetic approach of the kinetic façade. The cutting-edge façade system was developed together with Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering and supports the aim of the world exhibition to introduce forward-looking innovations to the public. Below is a video of the architects rendering that was submitted for the competition. Pretty much cutting edge for 2009.

The pavilion inhabits the thematic exhibition that gives visitors an introduction to the EXPO’s agenda. The permanent building is constructed in a former industrial harbor along a new promenade.

Below are some other design explorations by other companies which were runnersup to the competition…

This one’s by Shigeru Ban

Design Concept

Continuous surfaces twist from vertical to horizontal orientation and define all significant interior spaces. The vertical cones invite the visitor to immerse into the Thematic Exhibition. They evolve into horizontal levels that cover the foyer and become a flexible stage for the Best Practice Area.

Continuous transitions between contrasting experiences also form the outer appearance of the Pavilion. Towards the sea the conglomeration of solid concrete cones define a new meandering coastline, a soft edge that is in constant negotiation between water and land. Opposite side the pavilion develops out of the ground into an artificial landscape with plateaus and scenic paths. The topographic lines of the roof turn into lamellas of the kinetic media façade that faces the Expo’s entrance and draws attention to the pavilion after sunset.

Biomimetic kinetic facade

As a counterpart to the virtual multimedia shows of the thematic exhibition taking place in its interior spaces, the kinetic façade like the overall building emphasizes the manifold potentials of analogue architectural effects. Although movement is intrinsic to any media facade, architecture is usually considered as the stable, immobile background for it. By involving real movement the kinetic facade aims to unify those usually isolated layers of architecture and media and define it as an interrelated and inseparable three-dimensional experience. The elegant opening movement of the lamella is based on elastic deformation properties of fiber reinforced plastics and was deduced from biological moving mechanisms.

The facade covers a total length of about 140 m, and is between 3 m and 13 m high. It consists of 108 kinetic lamellas, which are supported at the top and the bottom edge of the façade. The lamellas are made of glass fiber reinforced polymers (GFRP), which combine high tensile strength with low bending stiffness, allowing for large reversible elastic deformations. The lamellas are moved by actuators on both the upper and lower edge of the GFRP blade, which induce compression forces to create the complex elastic deformation. They reduce the distance between the two bearings and in this way induce a bending which results in a side rotation of the lamella. The actuator of the lamellas is a screw spindle driven by a servomotor. A computer controlled bus-system allows the synchronization of the actuators. Each lamella can be addressed individually within a specific logic of movement to show different choreographies and operation modes. Upper and lower motors often work with opposite power requirements (driving – braking). Therefore generated energy can be fed back into the local system to save energy.

Beside their function to control light conditions in the foyer and the Best Practice Area the moving lamellas create animated patterns on the façade. The choreography spans from subtle local movements to waves running over the whole length of the building.
After sunset the analogue visual effect of the moving lamellas is intensified by linear LED bars, which are located at the inner side of the front edge of the lamella. In opened position the LED can light the neighboring lamella depending on the opening angle. The material performance of the biomimetic lamellas produces an interrelated effect of geometry, movement and light: The longer the single lamella – the wider the angle of opening – the bigger the area affected by light.
The seamlessly moving façade that is continuously integrated into the building’s skin was already proposed in the competition and developed together with Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering during the planning phases. To achieve the architectural intention a mechanical solution that applies hinges and joints seemed inappropriate, therefore a biomimetic approach was chosen. The technical solution was furthermore inspired by a research project at the ITKE University Stuttgart that investigates how biological moving mechanisms can be applied in an architectural scale. As a moving, emotional experience the kinetic façade combines sensations with the sensational, while communicating the Expo’s theme in an innovative and investigative way.

A Giant ball of Gas in Washington DC.. hey what’s new??

Even though the proposed bubble at the Hirshhorn Museum hasn’t yet inflated yet (latest plans for inflation are October 2012) it has won a progressive architecture award from the Architect, the magazine of the American Institute of Architects. The controversial bubble, designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, earned praise from the magazine for its playful and vibrant nature.

Says the magazine:

“Both installation and building, the air-filled structure challenges long-standing perceptions of what a museum means as a public space, how it encourages pluralistic audiences, and what it is able to exhibit. Its presence underscores a paradigm shift at the Hirshhorn: The museum is growing in importance as a place for dialogue and education extending beyond the traditional art world.”

In case you missed the plans of the bubble, it will be an inflatable membrane, squeezing into the museum courtyard and transforming it into an auditorium, cafe, and meeting place. Plans are to erect the bubble for one month in the spring and fall.

The magazine also displays some new renderings of the bubble, showing more details of the structure (if you can call it that).

Liz Diller, founding principle of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, shared the story of creating the pneumatic addition to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. Commonly known as the “Bubble”, the inflatable event space is planned for the cylindrical courtyard of the National Mall’s modernist museum that was originally designed by Gordon Bunshaft in 1974. The first inflation of the “Bubble” is expected to take place at the end of 2013.

Below is a TED talk by Diller about the balloon, height, perceptions etc etc.. would be fun to see how they stabilize the balloon in winds… 

The thin translucent membrane will fill the center of the Gordon Bunshaft building. Its sky blue tone will be darkest at the top and it will become more and more transparent toward the bottom floors so visitors can enjoy the sensation of looking up and practically being outside. Cable rigs compressing various areas of the bubble as it climbs up and over the museum ceiling give it a unique doughy look in stark contrast to the hard angular building.

The main floor of the Hirshhorn’s Bunshaft building includes 14,000 square feet of outdoor and courtyard space. The bubble will be erected during chillier seasons, allowing visitors to enjoy the open spaces year round with fun cushy seats scattered throughout, mimicking the softness of the walls. A giant water tube around the bottom of the bubble weighs the massive inflatable structure down and also acts as a bouncy bench.

The temporary inflatable space will also feature a make-shift auditorium that will seat up to 1,000 people for art films, events, lectures, and even site-specific installations. The Hirshhorn Bubble project has been in the works for almost two years and is expected to take form in the winter of 2012.

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Fig. 1.1 A superimposition of the previous pavilions.
As announced back in February, Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and their Chinese collaborator Ai Weiwei will be  designing this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion at Hyde Park in London, a special edition that will be part of the  London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. This will be the trio’s first collaborative built structure in the UK. If you do not know who weiwei is – you definitely know the “bird’s nest” which was designed for the last Olympics… They are the same guys…

For those who don’t know what the whole brouhaha is about… Have a look at the info-graphic which covers all previous pavilions done by world famous architects.
Back when, it was announced, they had said that their design will explore the  hidden history of the previous installations, with eleven columns under the lawn of the Serpentine, representing the past pavilions and a twelfth column supporting a floating platform roof 1.4 metres above ground, which looks like a reflecting water-like surface in the renderings. The plan of the pavilion is based on a mix of the 11 previous pavilions’ layouts, pavilions that are represented as excavated foundations from which a new cork cladded landscape appears, as an archeological operation.

This year’s Pavilion will take visitors beneath the Serpentine’s lawn to explore the hidden history of its previous Pavilions. Eleven columns characterising each past Pavilion and a twelfth column representing the current structure will support a floating platform roof 1.4 metres above ground. The Pavilion’s interior will be clad in cork, a sustainable building material chosen for its unique qualities and to echo the excavated earth (i guess the “echo” would not be heard if they use cork, and its a clever use at a metaphor. Taking an archaeological approach, the architects have created a design that will inspire visitors to look beneath the surface of the park as well as back in time across the ghosts of the earlier structures. (maybe they wanted to say – we couldn’t really do better, so might as well mish-mash old designs put one extra column – and say – hell we DID do something!!!)

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery, said: “It is a great honour to be working with Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the design team behind Beijing’s superb Bird’s Nest Stadium. In this exciting year for London we are proud to be creating a connection between the Beijing 2008 and the London 2012 Games. We are enormously grateful for the help of everyone involved, especially Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal, whose incredible support has made this project possible.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion will operate as a public space and as a venue for Park Nights, the Gallery’s high-profile programme of public talks and events. Connecting to the archaeological focus of the Pavilion design, Park Nights will culminate in October with the Serpentine Gallery Memory Marathon, the latest edition of the annual Serpentine Marathon series conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist, now in its seventh year. The Marathon series began in 2006 with the 24-hour Serpentine Gallery Interview Marathon; followed by the Experiment Marathon in 2007; the Manifesto Marathon in 2008; the Poetry Marathon in 2009, the Map Marathon in 2010 and the Garden Marathon in 2011.

The 2012 Pavilion has been purchased by Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal and will enter their private collection after it closes to the public in October 2012.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei will take place from 1 June to 14 October 2012. Those lucky to be in the neighborhood – do visit – the rest – rely on low res internet downloaded images…

Tensile – The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Tensile has its roots in Ancient History

The history of tensile structures and tent-type housing, is as old as mankind itself. Leaves, barks leather and felt, existed much before fabrics.

The Ancient Egyptians were probably the first civilization to use pieces of fabric for shade. They also found sails useful for harnessing the power of the wind to travel in sailing boats from 3,500 BC.

Equipped with a Master’s in Membrane Structure, from Germany, Bhavini Mistry Jotani, M Archineer, engineers all design projects under the uniquely named Ahmedabad based Freitagmann, which specializes in designing, engineering and execution of light-weight structures and Innovative structures. Her views on the history of tensile forms is equally unique, “When I think of tensile, the Bedouin tents and the old Indian/arab markets with fabric roofs comes into my mind. But that is very personal and contextual,” and adds “In today’s times when one says tensile architecture, there is a whole new architectural language that springs up. Right from the big stadia and airport roof canopies to large span public spaces and mall-atriums.”

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
McCoy DDA Games Village New Delhi CWG2010

Today, tensile architecture repre- sents, ease of use, light, elegant, versatile and sturdy fabric, that builders and architects endorse.

What comes to your mind, instantly, when you hear or read the word ‘Tensile Architecture’? We asked some profes- sionals using tensile fabrics with excellent, long-term results.

Richard Mcdonald, President, Taiyo Membrane, India Operations —

“Simplicity in geometric form but complex in design”!

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Shehzad Irani, M Archineer, SCHAFBOCK– “Free flowing forms, fabric, lightweight structures, open spaces, warm natural light.”

Simran Dodeja, Senior Marketing Manager, McCoy Architectural Systems “Light weight structures, versatile, dynamic, free flowing forms, archite- cture in motion.”

Tensile membrane applications

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

While all agree that atrium structures, large canopies at airports, amphi- theatres, stadia, car parks, bus drop-offs, garden structures, cafeteria, food courts and gazebos, mall coverings, would benefit tremendously from the high translucency and properties of the membrane structure. Faraz Aqil, Director, Mehler Texnologies, adds a note of caution, “For best and long-term results, fabric selection plays an important role and the end users must be briefed on maintenance and cleaning of these structures.”

The advantages to the builder, to the architect, and to the end users, of tensile architecture, in place of the erstwhile used methods and fabrics

Reveals Shehzad Irani, “Using a tensile membrane roofing structure, reduces the overall loads on an existing structure, if designed properly. It gives a very good light quality, thereby reducing the overall illumination expenses of a space; the membrane roof itself is very flexible and hence is able to deflect considerably and hence resists earthquake loads. It also has a very small cross-sectional area, and hence cools down very quickly. Therefore in temperate climates, it doesn’t trap the heat in its mass. It is quite eco-friendly since the fabric is easily recyclable and the rest of the structure is steel, which can also be re-used. The manufacture of any of the components does not entail any toxic methodologies. They are very quick to install and demolish, since they are mostly pre-fabricated structures. They have a very low mass and hence can be even designed to retract/collapse easily”.

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Ravi Mehta, who has shared his views on the advantages of tensile, on many occasions, gives a comprehensive list, that is technically precise and convincing. “The major advantage of using Textile roofing solutions is that, it allows natural light of very good quality, creating a very natural ambience, as it eliminates the need for artificial lighting, during daytime. Other materials like Glass or Polycarbonate, which also allow natural light, have the disadvantage of intense heat-gain, which necessitates high air-conditioning loads. Compa- ratively, Textile Architecture has lower heat gain and especially with certain solutions like Low E-membranes and double membranes, the requirement of air-conditioning can be reduced substantially. Being translucent, and not transparent like Glass, membrane diffuses the light through its entire surface and therefore at night, the entire roof comes alive and becomes a landmark with the illumination inside the roof.

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Manipal Food Court Polyklad

Fabric being flexible, allows the architect to create striking forms and signature structures, extremely difficult with other rigid materials. If required, fabric structures can be designed to be modular and dismantlable. Being light, and flexible, they can also be easily stored and transported. A wide range of colors are available in certain types of fabric with customized options.”

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Bhavini Mistry Jodani gives a comparative analysis, “The best advantage to the builders, is the coverage area, versus the cost per square meter area, when one compares tensile structures with regular concrete structures, or even run of the mill roofing solutions. The aesthetics of the tensile membrane structure, is always an architect’s delight, the light quality and the form of tensile, is like poetry.

Tensiles completely change the space quality. The volume of space that one gets in doing a tensile roof helps in decreasing the room temperature, especially in a tropical climate like ours. On the technical side, the cross section of tensile fabric is less and also fabric color is mostly white. A great percentage of sunlight is reflected back, while the thickness of membrane is so less compared to the concrete structure that it cools down equally faster. The amount of radiation from the membrane is lesser than a concrete structure.”

Simran Dodeja gives it a new dimension, “Tensile membrane structures offer versatility of form, giving the designer the ability to think on ‘out of the box’ solutions, virtually impossible with other materials. The pre-fabricated nature of these structures reduces construction time, allowing other on-site jobs to be completed simultaneously. Membrane Structures offer both roof and cladding, in one structural element.”

Faraz Aqil says that, besides being light, tensile fabrics are easy to install and maintain. They can be used to cover large areas with clear spans, they can take any form, shape or size; natural light helps in providing better surroundings and better ambiance.

Richard Mac Donald, wraps it up real crisp, “Pleasing to the eye, aesthetics, spanning large distances with minimal steelwork.”

Construction materials used towards ‘Green building objectives’ and Reduced ‘Carbon footprint’

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Tensile Structures for reduced carbon footprint

“Construction activities consume voraciously – energy, and other materials, which have very high impacts on our carbon footprint. If we could use lesser materials by using more of our brains, it would go a long way in helping the environment; eventually leaving more for future generations to build with, especially in this time and age, when we have a lot of cutting edge software and tools, that can enable us to use less and lesser material for our buildings. Materials such as ‘Technical textiles’ can help in changing this attitude of want on use of materials, and move towards judicious use,” explains Shehzad Irani.

The strongest boost for the construction and building materials industry, is the bar rising initiated by the national planning departments that focus on ‘green’ building. The green building materials market is growing exponentially, with the residential market being a major driver. In addition to the residential market, efforts are been taken to use construction products that are manufactured, from renewable resources. Added to this, is the use of tensile fabrics, that have distinctive advantages, in promoting the ‘Green Building’ concept, in India’s construction arena.

“Tensile membrane Architecture is eco-friendly and is 100% recyclable. Even structures that support the membrane use steel, that is 100% recyclable, making this form of architecture perfect to achieve Green Building Solutions. Membrane structures allow diffused light and also help reduce heat load and can be extensively used as an alternative, to glass skylights, making these structures truly energy efficient” adds, Simran of McCoy.

Faraz Aqil boasts of Mehler’s eco-friendly fabrics, “We are committed to using greener technology and almost all our products are 100% recyclable. Mehler eco-care & Vinyl 2010 contribute to preserve the environment.”

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Taiyo Membrane Expo 88 from the Brisbane River

Today’s software tools for today’s tensile architecture

“Nowadays a lot of non-linear, FDM based software have come into market like Forten4000, EASY, NDN. New software technology is being developed,, based on dynamic relaxation method, called Rhino membrane,” shares Bhavini Mistry Jotani.

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture

Shehzad Irani, elaborates on the software packages that drive tensile architecture, “You require a FEA (finite element analysis) package that can do linear and non-linear structural analysis, a Force Density method based form-finder, to find the form for the structure, a patterning software, that can handle complex flattening of geodesic curvatures. ixForten 4000, is a very comprehensive and cost-effective tool. In addition, you need a Nurbs-modeling software that can handle 3Ds and easily prepare fabrication drawings. Vector- works, Rhino 4, Autocad, Revit, are all versatile software aids.

Challenges in using tensile fabrics

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Mehler texnnologies In Orbit Mall

In India, it is more the mental block of builders, consumers, architects and designers, who are not exposed to the changing trends, and remain soaked in age-old materials that are cheap and culture – friendly, that instill apprehe- nsions in their minds, to accept and adopt new membranes like tensile; resulting in the limited use of tensile fabrics in construction, besides the cost of these light fabrics.

Laments Bhavini, “The biggest challenge faced right now, is the base price of the material, since the fabric is not manufactured in India. We end up paying 30-40% more price compared to the European market, where most of the fabrics are also manufactured. Chinese fabrics are available in the market, but the quality is not reliable. More awareness needs to be created for the use of right technology and the benefits of tensile structures. One of the biggest challenge, in India, is to remove the blocks from people’s minds, that fabric does not mean temporary. Because of the flexibility of the material and the age old use of fabric (eg. Shamianas, temporary extension of shops during monsoons and summer) in our country, people have this notion, that the life of the structure is not long. On the contrary, with the strength the material possesses and the quality of the fabric that is available, the life of the structure can be from 15 to 35 years which more or less can be considered a permanent structure.”

Stressing on the need of the hour, Simran of McCoy says, “The biggest challenge that Tensile Fabric faces in India, is to create awareness about membrane architecture, which still remains to be explored by many designers and builders in the Country.”

Shehzad feels the lack of compe- tency in handling geometric precisions, in tensile architecture, “Fabric structure costs much more because of the rich specifications that have to be offered with it. They are extremely complex to design and engineer, since the behavior of the structure, geometry as well as the material is non-linear. Their installation, production requires, trained and skilled personnel, which is scarce in India.”

Faraz Aqil too lays emphasis on quality, “This is a cost effective solution, and not rocket science, but it is important to execute projects efficiently and fabricators should not compromise on the basic technical aspects of execution, in order to save costs.”

Richard Mac Donald is completely aware of the situation and challenges, and hence, is brutally honest in his views, as to how the myths of the practising architects, can ruin the image of the membrane industry, “Getting architects and developers to accept the cost of using membrane. They believe a thin material is not necessarily durable and long lasting. Roofing companies, new to the industry, not understanding the complexities of tensile membrane structures and believing, it is easy to design and build and subsequently they produce a membrane structure, that is poorly designed, detailed and built; thus giving the membrane industry a bad name.”

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Gera Germany Stadium

Tensile Membranes in India–Market Overview and Lead Players

Developing a Technical Guideline to Permanent Tensile Architecture 

The tensile structure business has grown considerably in the last 10 years, and is predicted to grow exponentially, in the coming years. Such structures are becoming bigger and more sophisticated, as contractors, engineers and architects develop more confidence in their designs and reinforce them with their execution. Although the field may have evolved and more clients are interested in using them, they are still considered to be special – a new technology. Tensile surface structures do not figure widely in the design vocabulary of architects, engineers, urban planners, building owners and national authorities, and till that happens, their application will continue to be restricted.

Market projections, for tensile fabrics, pre- and post-economic slowdown, may be difficult to express in figures, without an accurate and deep study, but conservative turnovers would be close to 50-75 crores, per year.

How do big names fare, in the wake of poor acceptance, by the industry, of this new age, light material?

Says Ravi Mehta of Sujan Impex, which represents FERRARI, in India, “Initially we faced a lot of skepticism from architects, who were not aware of this new concept. However, slowly, as the architects in India got more exposed to international trends, and with a lot of foreign architectural firms also taking up projects in India, the concept of textile architecture has gained wide acceptance. People are realizing that, tensile architecture can be permanent, with life spans over 25 years.”

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Hyderabad AIRPORT

Bhavini Mistry Jotani is optimistic about the market status, but is equally apprehensive of the cost and other issues. “India is an upcoming market for tensile structure. While European market is more or less saturated, and most of the international players are exploring the new asian markets, especially India and South East Asia. The tensile market in India, is around 15-20 years old. However, it is only for the last five years that it has been accepted in the Indian market. Many new players are coming into the market these days, but like any new technology or product in the market, some do justice to it by giving good solutions and by producing quality–tensile structure, while there are contractors who have half-baked knowledge and are invading the market, resulting in a disastrous end product, disappointing the end-user; creating a negative impact on the technology. I would say out of all the contractors and design-engineers in the field of tensile in India, only around 10-15% are qualified or have sufficient design-engineering knowledge of the technology and its application. Pre-recession saw fewer players, but the demand too was less. Post-recession has witnessed steep rise in the competition levels, almost 10 times, forcing everyone to quote competitive rates, and paradoxically, the base costs of fabric, steel and that of fabrication, have increased.”

Lead players of the Indian Tensile market

Taiyo Membranes, FERRARI, and Mehler Texnologies lead the TA march, towards the new-age architectural world in India. McCoy is the perfect partner in project execution.

Product features and applications

Faraz Aqil shares product features of his company, “Our Valmex FR Range, is one of the best PVC Coated Tensile memb- ranes available across the world.”

Salient features of Valmex FR includes: Both sides PVDF lacquered, 100% UV retardant, light weight and high strength, very easy cleaning and maintenance, resistance to microbial and fungal attack, translucent, thus enhancing power savings, flame retardant, 100% recyclable, a good example of environmentally safe and sustainable architecture, 10-15 years warranty and available in various width and sizes.

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Munich Olympic Stadium

Ravi Mehta of Sujan Impex, says “FERRARI has a wide range of textiles for various exterior and interior applications such as, Permanent Roofing applications, Stretched Ceilings & Partitions, Solar Protection, Lightweight structures like tents, awnings & canopies.”

“FERRARI fabrics are made to suit all kinds of climatic conditions and are used in the coldest areas of Russia and North Europe, to the hottest desert areas of the Middle East. Tropical countries like Singapore and Malaysia use these fabrics widely” he adds.

Richard Mac Donald talks briefly his company’s excellence and product applications, “Taiyo is the oldest tensile membrane company in the world. It has over 50 years of experience in PTFE, PVC, ETFE, MDPE mesh and our company’s strength lies in design, detailing and ensuring high quality finishes. Our light-weight membranes are extremely durable for the harsh Indian environment. The most prominent membrane we sell is PTFE or Teflon coated fiberglass, which is extremely durable with a design life of over 50 years. PVC/PVDF is with a design life of 25 years, for the highest quality PVC fabric available in the market.”

Tensile The New Design Vocabulary in Structure and Architecture
Taiyo Port Elizebath Stadium

Simran shares information on the market status of McCoy, “McCoy Architectural Systems Pvt. Ltd. is known for its ability to design and execute the most Complex of Tensile Membrane Structures in India, with some very prestigious projects under its belt, like the D.Y. Patil Stadium Navi Mumbai, RK Khanna Tennis Stadium CWG 2010, DDA Games Village Swimming Pool Structures CWG 2010, and many more. The Company is constantly innovating in the field of Tensile Architecture and spreading awareness of Membrane Architecture through various methods.”

Shehzad confesses “Well very frankly, every fabricator would consider himself the leader, but some of the indigenous companies are–Western Outdoors, Shadeflex, Taiyo (not Indian), Construction Catalysers, McCoy Archite- ctural Systems, Skyshade technologies, Grorich, Polyklad, and Geodesic techniques.”

Bhavini Mistry Jotani feels “Tensile is the most apt material for our kind of climatic conditions. It’s just a matter of some time, before Tensiles would become an integral part of the Indian construction Industry.”

The future of Tensile Architecture, in India, may be uncertain, but one thing that remains undisputed is that, “Tensile is light, bright, tactile and versatile.”

WW-II lest we forget..

Entering their fourth year of war against Japan, Chinese military forces were strengthening their air force, producing their own armaments, and training their officers in the methods of modern war. Here, Chinese cadets in full battle dress, they favor the German type of steel helmet, on parade somewhere in China, on July 11, 1940. (AP Photo)

British Infantrymen in position in a shallow trench near Bardia, a Libyan Port, which had been occupied by Italian forces, and fell to the Allies on January 5, 1941, after a 20-day siege. (AP Photo)

Bardia, a fortified Libyan seaport, was captured by British forces, with more than 38,000 Italian prisoners, including four generals, and vast quantities of war material. An endless stream of Italian prisoners leaves Bardia, on February 5, 1941, after the Australians had taken possession. (AP Photo)

A squadron of Bren gun carriers, manned by the Australian Light Cavalry, rolls through the Egyptian desert in January of 1941. The troops performed maneuvers in preparation for the Allied campaign in North Africa. (AP Photo)

This armorer of the R.A.F.’s middle east command prepares a bomb for its mission against the Italian forces campaigning in Africa. This big bomb is not yet fused, but when it is it will be ready for its deadly work. Photo taken on October 24, 1940. (AP Photo)

Haile Selassie (right), exiled Emperor of Ethiopia, whose empire was absorbed by Italy, returns with an Ethiopian army recruited to aid the British in Africa, on February 19, 1941. Here, the emperor inspects an airport, an interpreter at his side. On May 5, 1941, after the Italians in Ethiopia were defeated by Allied troops, Selassie returned to Addis Ababa, and resumed his position as ruler. (AP Photo)

Cameron Highlanders, a Scottish infantry regiment of the British Army, and Indian troops march past the Great Pyramid in the North African Desert, on December 9, 1940. (AP Photo)

Field Marshal Gen. Erwin Rommel, commander of the German Afrika Korps, drinks out of a cup with an unidentified German officer as they are seated in a car during inspection of German troops dispatched to aid the Italian army in Libya in 1941. (AP Photo)

Children of Japan, Germany, and Italy meet in Tokyo to celebrate the signing of the Tripartite Alliance between the three nations, on December 17, 1940. Japanese education minister Kunihiko Hashida, center, holding crossed flags, and Mayor Tomejiro Okubo of Tokyo were among the sponsors. (AP Photo)

Chinese soldiers man a sound detector which directs the firing of 3-inch anti-aircraft guns, around the city of Chongqing, China, on May 2, 1941. (AP Photo)

A Japanese tank passes over an emergency bridge, somewhere in China, on June 30, 1941. (AP Photo)

Bodies of dead Chongqing citizens lie in piles after some 700 people were reportedly killed by a Japanese bombing raid on China in July of 1941. Between 1939 and 1942, more than three thousand tons of bombs were dropped by Japanese aircraft over Chongqing, resulting in well over 10,000 civilian casualties. (AP Photo)
A squad of German soldiers pass through a Greek village, during the occupation of Greece, in May 1941. (AP Photo)
A fallen paratrooper and his parachute, on the island of Crete, in early 1941. (Photo by Deutsches Bundesarchiv/German Federal Archive)

To alert their own airforce to their presence, soldiers spread the Swastika across boats used by the S.S. troops to cross the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, on May 23, 1941. (AP Photo)

The dramatic scene as the Cunard White Star liner Lancastria was sunk on August 3, 1940. The Lancastria was evacuating British nationals and troops from France, and had boarded as many as possible for the short trip – an estimated 4,000 to 9,000 passengers were aboard. A German Junkers 88 aircraft bombed the ship shortly after it departed, and it sank within twenty minutes. While 2,477 were rescued, an estimated 4,000 others perished by bomb blasts, strafing, drowning, or choking in oil-fouled water. Photo taken from one of the rescue boats as the liner heels over, as men swarm down her sides and swim for safety to the rescue ships. Note the large number of bobbing heads in the water. (AP Photo)

This photograph was taken on Jan. 31, 1941, during a nigthtime air raid carried out by the Royal Air Force above Brest, France. It gives a graphic impression of what flak and anti-aircraft fire looks like from the air. In the period of three to four seconds during which the shutter remained open, the camera clearly captured the furious gunfire. The fine lines of light show the paths of tracer shells, and the broader lines are those of heavier guns. Factories and other buildings can be seen below. (Photo by AP Photo/British Official Air Ministry)

Two examples of Britain’s war forces, a soldier in battle dress and a bearded Canadian sailor share a light at an English port, on January 14, 1941. (AP Photo)

Outdated, but serviceable U.S. destroyers sit in the Back Bay at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, on Aug. 28, 1940. Plans were well underway to bring these ships up to date and transfer them to Allied countries to aid their defense. These programs would be signed into law as the Lend-Lease program in March of 1941, and would result in billions of dollars worth of war material being shipped overseas. (AP Photo)

A crew of observers on the Empire State building, during an air defense test, on January 21, 1941 in New York City, conducted by the U.S. Army. Their job was to spot “invading enemy” bombers and send information to centers which order interceptor planes. The tests, to run for four days, covered an 18,000-square-mile area in northeastern states. (Photo by AP Photo/John Lindsay)

U.S. Postal employees feed 17 tons of reading matter, labeled by postal authorities as propaganda, into a furnace in San Francisco, California, on March 19, 1941. The bulk of the newspapers, books, and pamphlets came from Nazi Germany and some from Russia, Italy and Japan. (AP Photo)

These Arab recruits line up in a barracks square in the British Mandate of Palestine, on December 28, 1940, for their first drill under a British solider. Some 6,000 Palestinian Arabs signed up with the British Army during the course of World War II. (AP Photo)

A newly-constructed wall partitions the central part of Warsaw, Poland, seen on December 20, 1940. It is part of red brick and gray stone walls built 12 to 15 feet high by the Nazis as a ghetto – a pen for Warsaw’s approximately 500,000 Jews. (AP Photo)

A scene from the Warsaw Ghetto where Jews are seen wearing white armlets bearing the Star of David and trams are seen marked with the words “For Jews”, on February 17, 1941. (AP Photo)

A German Army officer lecturers children in a ghetto in Lublin, German-occupied Poland, on December 1940, telling them “Don’t forget to wash every day”. (AP Photo)

The faces of Jewish children living in a ghetto in Szydlowiec, Poland, under Nazi occupation, on December 20, 1940. (AP Photo/Al Steinkopf)

Gangs Of Wasseypur

Have been awaiting this movie for long. Especially since it is about the coal mafia in Jharkhand. To entrust a topic such as this with Anurag Kashyap is seriously inviting trouble… during the shooting, the film’s assistant director Sohil Shah was killed in an auto accident. The film finished production in late March 2011, with Anurag Kashyap moving on to direct his next film immediately…

It is going to be two films actually instead of one (the whole film is about 5hrs and 20min long – i doubt anybody has the time and patience to launch such a film and the audience to sit something like mother india all over again!!!)

So we have two different stories one after another.. and one that is going to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Directors’ Fortnight section… So i guess Anurag is there once more… head held high..

Fortunately we are not going to have Kalki in the film… her tremendous performances are turning out to be quite a distraction, and i am sure her performances are always overshadowed by her relationship that most courteously avoid..The music is something else which i am curious about – a lady Sneha Khanwalkar.

According to Kashyap, even the people of Wasseypur love Bollywood… “Most of the people living there are criminals, but the way Bollywood and crime merge over there is incredible. I have never seen something like this before. Wasseypur has the true fans of Bollywood,” he said… Now that’s interesting…

Banner: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Utv Motion Pictures

Release Date: 22 Jun 2012

Genre: Crime

Producer: Anurag Kashyap, Sunil Bohra

Star Cast:
Manoj Bajpayee
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Piyush Mishra
Shabana Azmi
Reema Sen
Jaideep Ahlawat…. Shahid Khan
Richa Chadda
Mukesh Chhabra…. Nawab Khan
Harish Khanna…. Yadav ji
Huma Qureshi
Yashpal Sharma
Raj Kumar Yadav
Tigmanshu Dhulia

Story / Writers: Anurag Kashyap

Music Director: Sneha Khanwalkar

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi


TED Talk: Daniel Libeskind’s 17 words of architectural inspiration

Filmed back in 2009, this TED Talk by Daniel Libeskind has yet to diminish in popularity. Once a free-verse poet, an opera set designer and a virtuoso musician, Libeskind has evolved into an internationally-renowned architect with an illustrious style that has been praised and criticized by many. In just seventeen words, Libeskind describes what inspires his unique approach to architecture. Believing that optimism is what drives architecture forward, he begins by stating, “Architecture is not based on concrete and steel and the elements of the soil. It’s based on wonder.”
Enjoy the talk and continue after the break to review Libeskind’s seventeen words of architectural inspiration.
Libeskind’s seventeen words of architectural inspiration:
  • Optimism vs. Pessimism
  • Expressive vs. Neutral
  • Radical vs. Conservative
  • Emotional vs. Cool
  • Inexplicable vs. Understood
  • Hand vs. Computer
  • Complex vs. Simple
  • Political vs. Evasive
  • Real vs. Stimulated
  • Unexpected vs. Habitual
  • Raw vs. Refined
  • Pointed vs. Blunt
  • Memorable vs. Forgettable
  • Communicative vs. Mute
  • Risky vs. Safe
  • Space vs. Fashion
  • Democratic vs. Authoritarian
It is evident that many will form a variety of opinions about Libeskind’s philosophy; however, it is always interesting to learn about different ideologies and inspirations. Tell us, what inspires you?

Maximum load-carrying capacity with minimum material input

A hydraulic drive designed specifically for supporting structures, which can automatically compensate loads, has been developed by researchers at the University of Stuttgart in conjunction with Bosch Rexroth.
A wooden shell much thinner than considered possible before was constructed for the project. With a thickness of only four centimetres, the shell covers an area of over 100 m². The extreme slenderness of the shell is attributable to the fact that this is an adaptive structure. The prototype on the campus in Vaihingen was first presented on April 16th 2012 .
Photo: Bosch Rexroth
Photo: Bosch Rexroth
Buildings have generally always been planned for a certain maximum load. Such a maximum load however usually occurs very rarely and is limited to a short period of time. A large proportion of the building material used nowadays therefore serves to bear these extremely rare maximum loads, but is in fact hardly ever really made use of. The aim of the ultra-lightweight design developed at the University of Stuttgart is to achieve a drastic saving in material and an improved reaction to dynamic loads, through active manipulation of the structure.

In the case of the wooden shell in Stuttgart, this manipulation is achieved via hydraulic drives: these drives are positioned at the support points of the shell and produce movements, which specifically compensate deformations and material strains caused by wind, snow and other loads.

Photo: Bosch Rexroth
In this project, Bosch Rexroth joined forces with ILEK (Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design) and ISYS (Institute for System Dynamics) at the University of Stuttgart to be the first in realising a large-scale adaptive building. The wooden shell is mounted on four points. Three of the support points can be moved individually and positioned freely using hydraulic cylinders. Sensors register the load measurements at various points of the structure.

Specific support point movements counteract changing loads (such as through snow or wind) thereby reducing deformation and material tension. Much less material is therefore required for the shell construction compared to conventional, passive construction methods. The load balance is achieved using a Rexroth control system, which has been specially developed for hydraulic drives. The control system is mainly responsible for the complex hydraulic regulation of the shell structure. In this way, the structure is able to react to changes in the load within milliseconds.

Active vibration damping and adaptation to changing loads is useful in many parts of the building industry, such as for stadium roofs, high-rise buildings, wide-spanning façade constructions or bridges. The results of the research project at the University of Stuttgart therefore allow a completely new style of construction: a style that remarkably increases the efficiency of supporting structures as well as being resource-friendly. The active damping of dynamic loads (for example due to effects of wind, earthquakes or explosions) permits a drastic weight reduction, as well as reducing material fatigue and structural damage.

In order to actively compensate loads and vibrations, it is first necessary to record or predict these influencing factors precisely. A second step involves calculation and realisation of the required counter-movements in real time. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart have developed simulation models which allow an exact prediction of the behaviour of the structure for this purpose. These take into account material stress as well as vibration behaviour under the influence of static and dynamic loads. The simulation models serve as a basis for development of control concepts, which calculate the required counter-movements for compensation of load and vibration effects according to the recorded measurements. These movements are then implemented precisely by the hydraulic system.

Photo: Bosch Rexroth
ILEK and ISYS jointly developed the scientific basis of the project over the past years, while Bosch Rexroth supplied the active elements of the prototype. In close collaboration with the University of Stuttgart, the company managed the project work, selection and design of the hydraulic system and its initial operation.

ILEK is a pioneer in research in the field of adaptive systems in the building industry; a first, small-scale prototype was already constructed with the sponsor from Stuttgart some years ago. The core competence of ISYS includes the analysis and specific influence of dynamic systems. For this purpose, the institute develops regulatory structures that create coordinated movements of the supporting structure. Bosch Rexroth is one of the world’s leading specialists in the field of drive and control technologies.

The project is integrated as a functional model in the Research Unit ‘Hybrid Intelligent Construction Elements’ supported by the DGF (German Research Foundation). This Research Unit brings together experts in the fields of mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, civil engineering and process engineering.

Project participants

  • ILEK – Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design, University of Stuttgart: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Werner Sobek, M. Eng. Stefan Neuhäuser, Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Witte, Dr.-Ing. Walter Haase
  • ISYS – Institute for System Dynamics, University of Stuttgart: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Oliver Sawodny, Dipl.-Ing. Martin Weickgenannt, Dr.-Ing. Eckhard Arnold
  • IBK – Institute for Construction Materials and Building Construction at the University of Applied Sciences RheinMain Wiesbaden: Prof. Leander Bathon
  • IfW – Institute for Machine Tools at University of Stuttgart: Prof. Uwe Heisel
  • Bosch Rexroth AG, Lohr a. Main: Dr. Johannes Grobe, André Fella

The 10 biggest shopping centres in the world

The 10 biggest shopping centres in the world

2012-04-30 00:00:00
Asia’s economic boom is reflected by the development of modern temples of consumerism. Nine out of ten of the biggest shopping centres in the world are now located in Asia. Much more than simply being opportunities for shopping, these centres are increasingly turning into amusement parks and lifestyle centres with shops attached. In February 2012, Emporis generated a ranking of the world’s largest shopping malls (by gross leasable area) and analysed current developments.
The original idea of the shopping mall was developed in the USA – the first one was built in Minneapolis in 1956. The economic boom in Asia resulted in increasing consumption the construction of mega malls. Nowadays, Asia has more shopping malls than the US; the two largest can be found in China.

The following comparison might help to illustrate the astounding dimension of these shopping centres: the second in the Top 10 list, the Golden Resources Mall, offers 557,419 m², which is about the size of 75 football pitches. But it’s not all rosy for all mega malls in Asia: the South China Mall, the world’s largest mall with a commercial area of 600,153 m², reports a high vacancy rate due to decreased customer frequency. It is known as a dead mall.

The Golden Resources Mall in Peking is lacking customers. Photograph: Esko Kippo / Emporis
Except for McDonald's, there's not much going on in the New South China Mall in Dongguan.
Except for McDonald’s, there’s not much going on in the New South China Mall in Dongguan, Photograph: Yu Mei / Emporis
Bad planning for 1.1 billion: the New South China Mall in Dongguan, Photograph: Vernon Martin / Emporis
Successful mega malls are increasingly turning into lifestyle centres, serving as commercial space for a variety of businesses and but also as tourist attractions. Dubai Mall for example offers an ice rink and an aquarium on its area of 350,244 m². The Persian Gulf Complex will have an indoor amusement park, a prayer room and a helicopter landing pad.
About 54 million visitors came to Dubai Mall in 2011. Photograph: M. Merola / Emporis
The aquarium at Dubai Mall is home to around 33,000 water animals, the tunnel underneath makes a bend of 270°. Photograph: The Dubai Mall / Emporis
Once completed, the Persian Gulf Complex in the Sadra Mountains will contain 2,500 commercial retail units. Photograph: Hamrah Ghashghaei / Emporis
Another strategy strives to unite architecture and environment. The 1 Utama Mall in Malaysia offers an indoor rainforest with koi basins for example and Southeast Asia’s largest roof garden can be found here. At CentralWorld in Thailand, you can watch sea lions swimming in the indoor salt water lake. In order to survive as a mega mall it has become popular to integrate offices and residential space in the centres, as can be seen in Cehavir Mall in Turkey.
1 Utama Mall in Umata, Photograph: Nadia Shazrin Asari / Emporis
Apart from 500 shops and 100 restaurants, CentralWorld in Bangkok provides Thailand’s only outdoor ice rink. Photograph: CentralWorld / Emporis
Cehavir Mall in Istanbul
Cehavir Mall in Istanbul, Photograph: St Martins Property Corporation / Emporis
Cehavir Mall in Istanbul
Cehavir Mall in Istanbul, Photograph: St Martins Property Corporation / Emporis
Cehavir Mall in Istanbul, Photograph: St Martins Property Corporation / Emporis
The discovery that consumer behaviour can be animated by social measures has changed the architecture of shopping malls. Especially the new lifestyle centres represent an effective way to motivate customers to buy and guarantee profits.
SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, Philippines
SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, Philippines, Photograph: Clemzkie / Emporis
SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, Philippines
SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, Philippines, Photograph: Clemzkie / Emporis
»SM City North EDSA« in Quezon City, Philippinen, Foto: Pathfinder / Emporis
With 430 shops on five stories, Mid Valley Mega Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is number 7 in the world ranking. Photograph: Robert Tan / Emporis
After 23 years of being number 1, West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada, is now number 10. Photograph: West Edmonton Mall / Emporis
West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada, Photograph: West Edmonton Mall / Emporis
Emporis is a provider of building data and construction projects; an Emporis Skyscraper Award is presented annually.

Renovation and extension of King’s Cross Station in London

Renovation and extension of King’s Cross Station in London

2012-04-30 00:00:00
Of all the historic train stations in London, King’s Cross (1852) may perhaps be said to have the most beautiful, possibly even the purest design of them all. Two simple yet elegant steel and glass vaults “(250x22x65 m) cover the halls containing eight platforms. In the course of preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics, John McAslan + Partners, an architectural and design practice based in London, were assigned with the redevelopment and structural extension of the station which was in dire need of major renovation.
Architect: John McAslan + Partners, London
Structural engineering design: 
Arup, London
Photo: Christian Schittich
Extensive parts of King’s Cross are landmarked (Grade I-listed). In the course of two building stages, the station halls were cleaned and newly glazed, while the two Western and Eastern Range Buildings were carefully renovated and modernised.
Photo: Hufton + Crow/ John McAslan + Partners
Photo: Hufton + Crow/ John McAslan + Partners
The third stage of construction, and highlight of the building measures, is the Western Concourse with its rolling steel and glass roof. This free standing structure was newly built in front of the historic Western Range Building.
Photo: Hufton + Crow/ John McAslan + Partners
The new station entrance is located underneath a semi-circular roof that swoops up to a height of 20 m and extends with a span of 52 m and a diameter of 130 m. Aerial photographs illustrate the ideal fit of the geometry of the new roof between the rear of the Great Northern Hotel and the Western Range Building.
Photo: John Sturrock
The largest self-supporting station roof in Europe (according to the architect) is distinguished by a white steel grid, which rises up vertically and then flares out elegantly out to the sides, much like an amazing giant cascading mushroom.
Photo: Hufton + Crow/ John McAslan + Partners
The outer rim of the roof construction weighing approximately 1,000 t rests on sixteen tree-shaped supports, each able to bear 600 t of weight.
Photo: Christian Schittich
Photo: Christian Schittich

Semester teaching at School of Architecture at Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University, Patan. 01 / 2011

I had the good fortune of teaching a semester of lightweight structures at HNGU, Patan. The students made models and explored various aspects of tensile structures, grid structures, geodesic and space frame structures. some of their explorations are in images below. 
Sculpture with ropes

Attention to little details

vertical forms too..
The sculpture at the turn-about

Some other explorations

Two day IPSA Rajkot workshop 25 / 06 / 2010

A two day workshop was organised by IPSA, Rajkot for introducing students to concepts and applications of tensile structures. This workshop though short on time, was able to cover basic design aspects as the form-finding of such anti-clastic shapes and take them through basic systems of tensile structure. 

Poster for the workshop
Double cone structure
Bunching of fabric at the center. (it even has reinforcement sir!!!)

Three continuous cones.

KRVIA (Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi, Mumbai) workshop with Ferrari

Teaching at KRVIA has been an excellent opportunity to interact with some very interested and inspired students. It was a three day workshop in which students learnt the basics, soap bubble modeling, stocking modelling, along with a healthy dose of tensile structures around the world and in India and how their detailing, engineering and conceptualization is done. There was a presentation by Ravi Mehta of Ferrari, who showed them the different types of fabrics and their applications around the world and in India. The Institute was also very interested in installing a prototype of a tensile structure and a special space was allocated near the canteen to install the same. Ferrari graciously supported the entire workshop. 
The students got a HANDS – ON experience at not only modeling designs using various software but also could extend these experiences to tangible solutions by putting up a structure of decent size to understand the forces that play in developing the form of the structure and the detailing involved about them. Some photographs of the workshop. 
Eager students await opening of the fabric

The “SMILEY” plate

And the other plate….

Students trying their hand at cut-outs.

Fixing details and laying out the cables in the fabric

Pretty maids – all in a row..

Fixing cables and the corner details

With a lil’ help from my friends…

And.. we are almost there…

Trampoline? Testing..? Just having fun… 

And some more fun… 

Quality issues – German Pavillion 15 / 11 / 2011

I had the unique opportunity to study up close the Indo German pavillions which are touring India – here are certain photographs of their production.. gives a great insight as to the working of such structures. 
Eye-lets on the edge

Fabrication errors

Fitting at the corner

How the designer thinks it should be…

Cargo Ratchets to tension the fabric

More Cargo ratchets

Facade with alternative panels

Flying mast with cables 
Termination of the cable

The fabric over-shooting the system

Fixing details at the edge

Balloon-ing effect due to tensioning of the fabric

Corner cut-out radius

Tensioning of the point.

Facade panels (mock-up)

Folding Workshop at CEPT, Ahmedabad – 05/09/2004

Some Models and explorations by students of the Fold ability workshop conducted at CEPT as a part of the foundation day celebration at School of interior design. First day was introducing concepts of folding structures, second day was devoted to making models… on the third day students made working prototypes.

Rajkot Workshop 26-02-2005

One of the first workshops that we took on tensile structures at IPSA rajkot. This one was to show them how tensile structures work with soap bubble models and using stockings. Students were guided in making shapes to describe such structures. The final project was to work out structures for a helipad and to cover the offices around the helipad. A three day workshop.

A New Begining….

For those who have been following this blog – and for those who haven’t been… firstly sorry, for the time since the last post. And doubly sorry, since in my anxiety to upload i deleted all my earlier post… Well it wouldn’t be my first experience at not backing up data and certainly not going to be my last experience at losing data… anyway, it is always new opportunity to start fresh – life gives us that each day…

Those who knew US, would know what i am talking of. It has been a glorious six years of working in Freitagmann from 2003 to 2010… But things have changed and have come to the level of bidding the heritage goodbye. 

Among the happy memories there were of course Apollo hospital and the ganesh umbrella which reminds us of our naivete.. and our incredible capacity at working with our hands for long periods of time. 

Then there was science city which we executed in 20 – 25 days, when we were just entering the world of computer aided tensile structures… and not really clear about all patterning and stuff…

There was IMS through which we made some great friends, and also along the way we have lost some dear ones…

There were immense number of times when we questioned where we stood and what we did and if we were moving in the right direction and if we were doing things that mattered… But principles drove us strong and long…

There were feeble attempts at discovery – and marvelous experiences at inventions. 

All this and more that shall be a part of our memory. Thank you all those who have been in these… Miss you we shall.


Apollo Green – Canopy

Figuring out the Ganesh canopy

Cutting patterns the old-fashioned way…

Thats the way to do the cnc plotting – completely not controlled

Ranpur. Creaseless and taut..

Made some new friends…

And lost some …

And some more…

Design Experimentation

And some funky stuff…
some good rendering attempts (for that time)

and some explorations

And the struggle between the virtual and tactile…

Events where we didn’t sleep for nights in a row…

Some quick work… that fetched us results…

On the job and look out for problems..

Somethings that didn’t quite fit..

Sketch – before iPad and SketchUp and Samsung galaxy Tab

Even aesthetic inputs… the first Vibrant Gujarat at Science City..

And thats what happens to fabrics that elongate…