Beyond Performance


architecture & interaction design

Digital Processes by Arkitettura Performattiva

In those early years of practice, preceded by formal architectural education, young Maltese architects look outwards from their micronation towards the global scenario for references, inspiration and professional development.

Digital Processes is an exhibition comprising individual research projects carried out by six young Maltese architects who recently completed postgraduate degrees in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands. Exhibiting under – Arkitettura Performattiva – the projects are a reflection of local architects operating on a European scale, and looking back into their micronation.

A self-autonomous, robotically driven architecture; a caustic based, form-finding design process, and a multi-objective optimisation of building geometry are amongst the current design research projects existing within the international architectural scenario, however they also a reflection of local practice.

We believe that the process is more important than the final product, thus, the exhibition will not only feature completed projects but also the process through which these design proposals have been derived.

Showcasing work by: 

William Bondin
Francois Mangion
Sean Buttigieg
Zack Xuereb Conti
Joe Galea

Interdisciplinary Research is Essential

Brooks didn’t ‘invent’ new AI…he translated cognitive processes into computation ones, and here is why:

Henry Molaison was a patient who in 1953 had 2/3 of his hippocampi (part of the brain responsible for memory) removed, during an attempt to cure his epilepsy. 

He could not form new memories, however he could still develop new skills and had retained a very good spatial memory (he was able to remember the layout of his new house by remembering the movements/ procedures he did to get from one room to another). This eventually proved that spatial memory and motor skills occur in different neural structures than semantic and episodial memories.

Brooks paper on nodal mapping is a literal translation of this observation. He argues that the way forward in robotics is not to store paths and maps, but to store relationships between sensory events.

Why is Brooks a genius? (by my standards at least…). Because he was able to look out of his comfort zone, and explore new fields in order to understand his own. For that, I salute you.

A sculpture that crawls with a mind of its own

Bend Don’t Break: A lesson I’ve learnt in RC3

I am, by profession, an architect. I was trained to think that the world has a problem, that it is broken, and somehow we can fix it. Wooden beams sag and metal sheets warp. Time shapes materials in ways which we, as citizens of Utopia, do not embrace. Unlike our three-dimensional models, reality is messy and inconsistent. What worried me most is that what I was designing and what I was building, behaved completely different.

Since I started my current research, I started to realise that the world is not broken, it is bent. The wooden beams were not broken, they were telling a story by adapting to their realities. Bend don’t break. Suddenly everything fit into place. I shall focus less on the fictional breaking, and more on embracing and guiding the bending. Embrace the error, embrace the inconsistency. However, as an architect, acknowledging the inconsistency was not enough, I wanted to measure it and quantify it. If reality is messy, how come my calculations are so clean and precise? The problem does not lie in the error, but in the perfect ideal. So I started to fiddle with sensors and feedback loops, in order to transfer this messiness into the digital domain.

I was once told that Calatrava produces additional sketches after his details are built. In a linear design methodology this is absolute nonsense. Sketch, drawing, detail, building. This is what I was used to. However, the feedback loop questions the very principles of a linear methodology. Like the master craftsmen who dotted Europe with gothic cathedrals, I started to get involved in the making as much as the drawing. In fact, at some point, I made pieces which I hadn’t drawn yet. During machining, I became even more aware of the “bend don’t break” mantra. On CAD software, architects draw straight lines and perfect perpendicular edges. In reality, nothing is straight. If you disagree, use a micrometer. Tolerances, flexible mountings and rubber spacers accommodate these “errors” and are more effective than high precision manufacturing. So why do we speak of 3D printed buildings and CNC fabrication? After all, this is architecture not medicine. To be honest, I don’t know. I think the way forward is not to reduce tolerance but to increase it.

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