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Inside SCI-Arc
Artificial Matters with Elena Manferdini
Vertical | Fall 2010

Recently we witnessed an interest in materials not only as “true matter”, but also as a new breed where geometry, texture,coloration, tooling and finish are able to provoke new sensations. These artificial materials can be described as “synthetic” because they are the outcome of various qualities that are not necessarily true to the physical property of a specific matter. Traditionally artists have mastered several artificial and optic techniques to control the way in which material are perceived and the intellectual associations they can instigate in the viewer.

This studio will borrow these specific techniques from the art field and will apply them to an architectural project. The work of the students will aim to extend the potential of architectural envelope and massing to produce hyperrealistic experiences through the invention of new breeds of artificial matter. The goal of the class is to broaden students’ intellectual and critical understanding of architectural envelopes, while increasing their range of technical skill sets. Although the studio will make heavy use of digital techniques and processes like 3d laser scanning, CNC machining, and advanced software like Zbrush, one of the ambition of the studio is that these digital procedures will not be clearly visible in the final project, but the viewer will wonder how such things have been or could be made. Each project will collapse reality and artifice, and propose that contemporary architectural materials are often a mutation from the “original” producing a world in which fact, fiction and fantasy co-exist. During the first part of the studio students will work on a series of choreographed experiments with 3d scanned materials in step with Z-Brush and Maya. Students will use the formal and textural qualities scanned from “literal” materials and will invent synthetic and hyper-realistic surfaces through the use of several design procedures. During the second part of the studio students will select a portion of the master-plan by Herzog&DeMeuron for the Milan 2015 EXPO (“Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”) and will design a Pavilion. The class will visit the current Expo 2010 in Shanghai.