Opinion

A decade of design: Technology

April 12, 2011

LAVA director Chris Bosse explores how digital design is allowing designers to redefine the spaces we inhabit, and the ways we experience them.

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Technology has transformed the way we think about space, and it has definitely started transforming the way we create it. We stand at the forefront of a technology movement that is questioning the relationship between the virtual and the real, and in this sense, technology is the vehicle that allows architects and designers to redefine, or re-negotiate, the way we live our day-to-day lives – the spaces we inhabit, and more precisely, how we experience them. Technology is redefining how we relate these experiences to each other.

We’re constantly encouraged by the possibilities that it now offers our studio in many project-specific cases. In a communication sense, between the LAVA team, clients and collaborators, the enabling qualities of technology are an essential part of the development process that we’ll never turn back from.

The concept of time is very valuable to us from a design perspective and we see technology as a tool. Able to compress or expand a given timeframe for working on a project, by allowing 24-hour communication across a global LAVA studio network, it helps us realise projects in various places at once. This allows decisions to be made and communicated almost instantly between collaborators and clients.

It also allows us to produce multiple design options at each stage of the process that in a way expands time, as well as bringing about a higher quality in our final designed product.

Although we have also seen improvements in large-scale construction techniques, through the use of available technologies, I feel this part of the built environment will always follow, and be pushed, by design solutions from the virtual environment first. It’s just a matter of getting used to this reality. Things are certainly speeding up with the construction of our projects, but I feel there is still a long way to go on this front.

Clear to see that software technology develops 10-times faster than that of serious hardware – especially in the building sector. Nonetheless, there has been significant progress, and I think this is exciting for the industry as a whole.

Aside from all the bigger jobs we have underway at the moment, I still enjoy working on our smaller projects and spaces. They actually allow us to actively explore and often develop new construction processes that make full use of technology from design to production/cad-cam, such as 5-axis milling, laser-cutting, machine folding etc. These things build upon our concepts and ideas, and can allow for more innovation.

The level of prefabrication and site labour varies from country to country; Europe largely prefabricates in a workshop and assembles in a short amount of time on-site, while in China most of the work is done on-site, taking their time the old fashioned way.

Either way, the virtual prototyping, the exact prediction of geometry, structural behaviour, services, escape-routes, cost, and ultimately spatial quality puts our architects and designers back into the seat where they belong, as the driver of the process, and responsible for the overall outcome.

We see a lot of industries and highly skilled manufacturers out there that are maintaining and developing a digital chain from inception to completion. Like us, they look for more ways to further develop their business and creative process with these enabling tools. The unfortunate thing in our sector is that these digital pioneers are often isolated from one other.

Our approach at LAVA is to seek out these people exploring technology and link one with the other through an expanding LAVA global network – to create something we hope inspires the next generation of thinkers and designers.

Chris Bosse’s research pushes the boundaries of architecture with digital and experimental formfinding, and deals with the implementation of virtual environments into architecture. Bosse was an associate at PTW architects in Sydney, where he developed the Watercube in Beijing with his PTW team. He is also the co-founder of LAVA, the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture. Bosse is Adjunct Professor and Research Innovation fellow at the University of Technology Sydney.
www.l-a-v-a.net

  • Ahem April 14th, 2011 8:56 am

    Meaningless buzzword hogwash. Honestly.
    People have been spouting this rubbish for 10 years straight, and is just a lot of noise. Change is not happening in the construction industry, but architects are convinced that it is.
    Find something else to talk about, because 99.9% is still walls, and doors and gypsum and tophats, and flashing, and pink batts.
    The change is insignificant. Or insignificantly slow, at least.


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