Digital Origami


An ancient Japanese proverb says: "If you meet a person that is able to make many items of different shape by folding up simple sheets of paper, don't think it is trivial, but try to learn.” The “first wave” of digital architecture hit the world in the mid nineties. Ninety percent of all final projects at Chris Bosse’s faculty were hand-drafted on tracing paper and out of balsa wood. Three years later, for his masters project, 90 percent of his fellow projects were digital. The digital revolution happened fast. However, with this first wave, there was no gravity, nothing for the senses and very little constraints.

Thus architecture divided between the digital visionaries and the ‘real’ architects who build. In today’s second wave ‘the digital’ enables us to conceptualise and build in an entirely different fashion. The computer now enables that which divided us: to build stuff.

The Stuttgart Mercedes Benz Museum, for example, isn’t based on elevations and plans, but three-dimensional spatial experiences. It was conceived threedimensionally, through movement and not in elevation, plan and section. Such skills, at the interface of digital (or hybrid) design and manufacturing, are what LAVA want to teach the future generations of architecture. And they want to make them experience it.

The project

The digital masterclass program at UTS under Anthony Burke invited Chris Bosse to run a highly intensive masterclass.

Bosse says: ‘The danger of digital creations is the virtual worlds they depend on, or rather the lack of constraints in the virtual if compared to the physical world. Most of the time digital creations end in crazy flythrough computer renderings’. Bosse therefore asked the students to study and research current trends in parametric modeling, digital fabrication and material-science and apply this knowledge to a space-filling installation.

‘The aim was to test the fitness of a particular module, copied from nature, to generate architectural space, with the assumption that the intelligence of the smallest unit dictates the intelligence of the overall system. Ecosystems such as reefs act as a metaphor for an architecture where the individual components interact in symbiosis to create an environment.’

‘In urban terms, the smallest homes, the spaces they create, the energy they use, the heat and moisture they absorb, multiply into a bigger organisational system, whose sustainabilty depends on their intelligence.’

By itself this recognition is an ESD principle that in this instance simplifies the message and visualises it by creating highly dimensional and sculptural appearance, that plays with space by climbing up walls and arching over to create low, cave-like tunnels.

Using 3500 recycled and recyclable cardboard molecules in two different shapes, students explored the intelligence of natural and architectural systems through the smallest elements of design. The students created a mind-blowing reinterpretation of the traditional concept of space. The exhibition incorporated computer controlled luminaries with sophisticated light systems and acoustic installations by local designer that brought the whole installation to life. The pain and pleasure of facing practical problems (including gravity), translated into such a dynamic, that the project exceeded all expectations. 25 young architects climbed upside down through the art-gallery, enthusiastically exploring the Cartesian space and interpreting their own three dimensional drawing into real, three dimensional and physical space. Isn’t that what architects do?

Utilitas, firmitas, venustas. digitalitas. Hey Vitruvius, you didn’t tell us about this

Description from architects


13 photos and 1 drawing

Building Activity

  • Kiril Pavlov
    Kiril Pavlov updated 93 media, updated, added a digital reference and uploaded 4 media
    Digital Origami Digital Origami Digital Origami Digital Origami
    about 6 years ago via