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We aim to create an architecture that defies classification and reductionism. We explore unseen levels of resolution and topological complexity in architecture by developing compositional strategies based on purely geometric processes.
In the Digital Grotesque project, we use these algorithms to create a form that appears at once synthetic and organic. The design process thus strikes a delicate balance between the expected and the unexpected, between control and relinquishment. The algorithms are deterministic as they do not incorporate randomness, but the results are not necessarily entirely foreseeable. Instead, they have the power to surprise.
The resulting architecture does not lend itself to a visual reductionism. Rather, the processes can devise truly surprising topographies and topologies that go far beyond what one could have traditionally conceived.
Digital Grotesque is between chaos and order, both natural and the artificial, neither foreign nor familiar. Any references to nature or existing styles are not integrated into the design process, but are evoked only as associations in the eye of the beholder.
New materials and fabrication methods have historically led to radical changes in architectural design. They have indeed been primary drivers in its evolution. Today, additive manufacturing heralds a revolution in design. Yet in architecture, this technology has up to now been used only for small scale models.
Digital Grotesque takes additive manufacturing technology to a true architectural scale. Digital Grotesque presents a fully immersive, solid, human-scale enclosed structure with a perplexing level of detail. Its geometry consists of hundreds of millions of individual facets printed at a resolution of a tenth of a millimeter, constituting a 3.2-meter high, 16 square meter large room.
The potentials of additive manufacturing in architecture are enormous. Architectural details can reach the threshold of human perception. There is no cost for complexity: printing this highly detailed grotto costs the same as printing a primitive cube. Nor is there a cost for customization: fabricating highly individual elements costs no more than printing a standardized series. Ornament and formal expression thus cease to be a luxury. What can we do with this newfound freedom?
In the Digital Grotesque project, every detail of the architecture is generated through customized algorithms, without any manual intervention. A simple input form is recursively refined and enriched, culminating in a geometric mesh of 260 million individually specified facets. This single process generates many scales of architecture, from the overall form with its broad curvature, to local surface development, down to minute textures.