2006 Skyscraper Competition
In nature, organisms try to respond to the impact of various forces with minimum energy consumption. Similarly, materials are subject to a process of self-organization/adaptation in relation to the action of intrinsic as well as extrinsic forces acting upon it, aiming to fulfill a state of equilibrium. Exploring the inherent properties governing the behavior of a given material and its effects on the surrounding environment, represents the starting point for a broader understanding of material forms as a mutable, multi-performing, and generative design tool. The bottom-up approach towards the research onto a given material system discloses the opportunity to deeply investigate the proprieties of such a material, as well as opening unexpected potentials for inclusive performances and effects.
The aim of the research is to unfold a set of extensive investigations on catenary structures developing a generative tool-set for architectural design and overcoming the traditional notion of programmatic determinism and building types. The analysis of the properties of catenaries, the inherent relationship between geometry and structure, and the behavior of the material under the application of a set of experiments, represents the core of the research.
The hypothesis of the research is to develop an extensive set of investigations and trigger new speculations about the way catenary can nowadays be used, not only as global load bearing system to support vertical loads, but also as a geometry that can provide spatial arrangement for vertical structures. The parallel study on the physical and the digital realms constitutes the method of research.
Understanding the built environment as a dynamic assemblage of generative material organization that yields potentials for inclusive performances represents, among other things, the starting point for a critical redefinition of building typology. Thus commonly considered as a rigid top-down organization within which every element plays a particular role and performs a specific task, the very idea of typology restricts the architectural discourse into codified standards where technology is the only driving force for innovation. Unfolding the organizational potential of high-rise buildings into a dynamic topological and morphological matrix where a multi-parametric material set-up opens up potentials and establishes a feedback loop between elements and their differentiation, shifts the discourse from typology to new ecology.
The Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo is the environmental testing ground where the system operates, modulating its morphology accordingly with external stimuli and internal organizational logics. The new high-rise building is integrated to the existing market representing its vertical extension. The existing market is characterized by a top-down layered organization whereby each element is aiming for a homogenous spatial standardization. The different degree of interiority within the building is achieved through an increasing number of material thresholds. The accumulation of discrete material sediments is defining the boundaries between different degrees of interiority-exteriority within the existing fabric. The new structure, instead, provides a differentiated generative system whereby local, regional, and global arrangements inform each other, defining new organizational distribution, as well as morphological, geometrical, and programmatic set ups.