Generative Processes in Architecture and Urbanism

Kuwait 2018

Under the title ‘Emergent Constructions’, the AA Visiting School Kuwait has for the third year brought together international and local students, academics, and practising architects in a 14-day programme which investigated computational methodologies for context-specific architecture design.

The ‘Filtered_Space’ pavilion was a temporary structure located in The Avenues mall in Kuwait, which allowed visitors to experience a digitally designed and fabricated space based on the filtering of light and views. It was the outcome of a collaborative workshop between tutors from the Architectural Association in London and industry partners in Kuwait, with the participation of local students. The pavilion was on display for a period of three weeks, after which it was relocated to the courtyard garden of the College of Architecture at Kuwait University.

The design was developed in relation to a research agenda which focuses on the theme of ‘performative envelopes’, which investigates how information-based design processes can produce architecture that is sensitive to the cultural, social and climatic characteristics of its environment. The pavilion consists of a geodetic primary structure of modular steel ribs and a three-dimensional ‘skin’, which is constructed out of a number of folded aluminium components that vary in size, colour and porosity.

The different densities of components were arranged in relation to the digital mapping of the light levels and views to the surroundings. This process demonstrated some of the potentials of data-driven design, such as a strategy to arrange different building components to mediate the qualities of space, in relation to the surrounding environment. It also created a unique and playful interior space that was open to the public.

The space offered an escape from the intensive environment of the mall and offered a place for reflection, private conversation or children’s adventure. In times when people place an increasing importance on the curated and filtered collection of digital memories on social media, this pavilion aims to demonstrate the capacity of architecture to enrich and emphasize the value of experiences and social interactions in the physical world.

The research agenda behind the workshop advocates a new mode of practice within architecture and urban design, based on an understanding of buildings and cities as complex systems. This design approach is different from a traditional linear design process, proposing an iterative and data-driven work flow by architects in collaboration with computational tools. It shows how through the critical design of processes of information gathering, translation and implementation, we can address the intricate conditions of our complex and dynamic world.

The ‘Filtered_Space’ pavilion is designed in response to a high-resolution, 360 degree set of images that was captured in the exact location of structure. The light and colour values of the surroundings were mapped onto a virtual sphere around the intended inhabitable space. Using specific computational design and 3D modelling tools including RHINO / GRASSHOPPER, it was possible to translate the data into a pattern of subdivisions of the triangulated surface of the sphere.

In subsequent steps, a pattern of open and closed facade components was designed to form a three-dimensional filtering skin, supported by a structural frame that is arranged according to the geodesic dome principle. The character and possibilities of the specific material were incorporated in the design, anticipating the filtering skin system’s construction out of thin sheet metal. A specific work flow was created to export the building information modelling (BIM) information towards the equipment used for the laser cutting manufacturing of the facade components. The resulting system of steel ribs and mass-customised, folded aluminium components was assembled on site over the course of a three-day period.

The project on display at The Avenues demonstrated a possible outcome of an approach towards high-resolution construction materials, that create optimised functional architectural environments. It is an example of processes that can be applied to the design of buildings for a wide range of scales and functions. It shows how new and innovative digital design and construction methodologies can produce sophisticated architectural structures, adapted to the invisible forces that shape our urban environments.

Pavilion Design:
Jeroen van Ameijde
Sulaiman Al Othman

Coordination and Programme Staff:
Sara Abou Saleh
Rashed Al Mubarak
Sulaiman Al Othman
Jeroen van Ameijde

Workshop Participants:
Jassim Al Abbad
Lulwa Al Bader
Lulwa Al Dihani
Reem Al Humaidan
Noora Al Melhim
Wadha Al Sabeeh
Lulu Al Subaie
Aishah Al Shatti
Ahmad Hisham
Sara Al Zeer

Dina Abou Saleh
Andrea Bugli
Abdullah Bukhamseen
Mohammed Al Awadhi
Meshal Al Khamees
Hanan Al Kouh
Mohammad Al Marzoug
Yuser Al Mutawa
Salman Qasem
Ahmed Suleiman

Platinum Sponsor:
PACE | Architecture, Engineering + Planning

Bronze Sponsor:
Gulf Consult

Pavilion Location Sponsor:
The Avenues / Mabanee

Workshop Location Sponsor:
Promenade Culture Centre / The Promenade Mall

In collaboration with:
Kuwait University
Royal Institute of British Architects
KUZ Store, Kuwait