Laboratory for Computational Design Beijing 2012

Daniel Gillen, PERFORMANCE RE-IMAGINED, Beijing Design Week 2012

Laboratory for Computational Design (LCD) is an innovative teaching and researching platform co-founded by Xu Feng, Nikolas Wabnitz (Wax Architecture) and Daniel Gillen. Recently Gillen was a part of Beijing Design Week 2012. The lab aims to pursue the transfer of knowledge in computational design and to create networks of experimental research and teaching in China. Exploring through the notion of Hutong as a model of urbanization within the context of Beijing old city Dashilar, the work of this 4 month course is trying to challenge the capacity of conventional design methodologies to manage the indeterminacy of economic and urban development, the environment, migration and other dynamic forces which shape the dynamic nature of urbanity.

We understand the city being continuously in flux, not unlike the so-called natural environment. We challenge the conception of the city as assembled permanently from hard matter and built to endure, and rather, posits the notion of urbanism as a dynamic entity which responds to the forces which shape its growth, change, evolution, and transformation over time.

We explore computational techniques in the choreography of the complex dynamic urban interactions within existing urban environment. Through the investigation of alternative tools with which to generate and control dynamic models, where the designer interacts with parameters through empirical, heuristic methods, we will focus on evaluation and feedback as an approach to the problem of symbiosis of land, water, and the mineral accretion we call architecture.

In his recent work PERFORMANCE RE-IMAGINED presented at Beijing Design Week 2012, Gillen presents a series of investigations that question what constitutes performance of the modern age. Who is the performer, and what is performed? Who is voyeur what is their role in performance? Can a singular volume adapt to alternate performances? These inquiries challenge the architectural paradigm of performance space.

Parametric utilities allow for the rapid modification of architectural language, thus allowing Designers to test geometrically diverse situations and cyclically design both ‘per-form’ and ‘per-formance’. This series gives the voyeur a peek at ‘process as product’. Differentiated geometries paired with distinct colour variants, while concurrently minimizing design variables, created exponential varieties of environments.

The recent student work (1) to come through the LCD studio based on the Dashilar  Evolution and Fluid Urbanism (2) has been just as impressive with a resultant exhibition at the Ai Wei Wei Compound earlier in the year. The Dashilar continuous history (3) has given us with the ancient city of Beijing that recently presented the current Bird’s Nest building and Water Cube for the 2010 Olympics. The student project that ran over a short period treated the notion of Hutong as a model of urbanisation within the context of Beijing old city (4).