Earlier this year, Swiss architect and programmer Michael Hansmeyer introduced his magnificently baroque cardboard columns, which, with their algorithmically-derived 8-16 million facets (distinct surfaces), each bear more complexity than most entire buildings. Hansmeyer is back, this time with a new set of similarly complex columns, only now made from plastic.
Hansmeyer created the new columns for an installation at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011 in South Korea, this year curated by Ai Wei Wei and featuring works from a wide range of practitioners, from the explorative, including the open-source-design engine WikiHouse, to the establishment, with pavilions by the likes of Peter Eisenman, Alejandro Zaera-Polo, and Dominique Perrault. The installation, dubbed "The Sixth Order" in reference to the five classical column orders, is comprised of four columns designed by using a custom subdivision algorithm originally developed by Pixar to yield 16 million non-repeatable surfaces. These generated surfaces were fashioned into 9-foot-tall laterally symmetrical columns--each a perpetually shifting variant of a tortured Doric model--constructed by CNC-milling and stacking thousands of 1-mm thick plastic sheets. The whole assemblage is sandwiched between two full-height mirrors, which visually multiply the columns to create the illusory space of a hypostyle hall.
Hansmeyer's decision to work with plastic, whose composition is sturdier and whose edges are more defined than those qualities inherent to cardboard, rendered the columns smoother and more "sculpted" than their predecessors. They appear to have been intricately carved from blocks of limestone or even glaciers, with their visible striated grain attesting to this fictional genesis.
Although Hansmeyer's design process thoroughly exploits architecture's computational capacity, at least in terms of maximizing the indisputable value and primacy of the algorithmic-based design model, it does little to further construction processes which are so in need of rehaul. The columns are cut using 30 + year old technology and are laboriously assembled over what must have been an insufferably long period of time. Worse, perhaps, is the work's failure to integrate all the information built into the 3d model into the construction process.
[via Co. Design]