Folding as a generative process in architectural design is essentially experimental. I would like to use this concept to explore formal possibilities in architectural proposals . Folding Architecture is about morphogenetic process, the sequence of transformation that affect the design object.
This post is based on the experimental analysis of Sophia Vyzoviti, professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Delf University of Technology.
Cutt off from the continuum of her lab studio process, four phase transitions are presented: matter and functions, algorithms, spatial-structural-organizational diagrams and architectural prototypes.
TRANSITION 1: Matter and Functions
Through extensive explorations and transformations of a single paper surface into a volume, with one constraint only, maintaining the continuity of the material. The paper’s transformative origins are simple actions of a single paper surface into a volume. The paper’s transformative origins are simple actions, intuitive responses, delivered as a list of verbs; fold, press, crease, pleat, score, cut, pull up, rotate, twist, revolve, wrap, pierce, hinge, knot, wave, compress, unfold. In the early folding performances, we can appreciate the paperfold as a diagram in Deleuzian terms, an abstract machine knowing nothing of forms and substances; operating purely by matter and function. Reading the paperfold as a diagram, that does not represent but rather constitutes new type of reality introduces architectural research into a field of actualization.
TRANSITION 2: Algorithms
The paperfold is a dynamic artefact, unstable and evolving. It bares the traces of the activity that brings it into being: scores, creases or incisions drawn in the surface of the paper.
The paperfold unfolded, becomes a map of its origination process. Repetitive paper folding performances evolve initial intuitive responses into primary techniques: triangulation, stress forming, stratification of folds, folds within folds, or patterns like strips, spline curves, sprals, or meanders. Manipulation of paper surface in order to produce volume constitutes a curriculum of activity, a program. Paperfold generative transformations resulting to the paperfold artefact as a genetic algorithm of form. This re-introduces the problem of documentation, requiring notation as a set of instructions that include time as a variable. Thus the paperfold can be considered an event, where the object expands into an infinite series of variability.
TRANSITION 3: Spatial, Structural and Organizational Diagrams
Space emerges in the paperfold during a dynamic volume generation process. The void bounded between the folds of the paper manifest a curvilinear form that cannot be exactly defined. Like its delimiting surfaces it manifests increased continuity despite its fragmentation. Mapping the paperfold as a spatial diagram requires an abstraction of spatial relations.
Geometric characteristics are initially irrelevant. Topological properties are crucial to describe the space emerging in the paperfold artefact; proximity, separation, spatial succession, enclosure and contiguity.
The goal in this transition is to perceive and configure the space between the folds as actual space. As a smooth space, that needs to be occupied in order to be calculated. Accessibility is the essential operation. Connectivity is consequential performance. Loops and Crossings are emergent space concepts.
TRANSITION 4: Architectural Prototypes
In a design generative process by folding, the architectural object is not a priority target to be achieved. Given the educational context, the spatial, structural and organizational diagrams emerging in the process are developed into architectural prototypes. The goal here is to attribute architectural properties to the diagram introducing parameters of material, program and context. Thus we can define here as architectural prototype the spatial, structural or organizational diagram that has acquired “architectural substance”.