Page T1.1 . 08 August 2012   
ArchitectureWeek - Tools Department
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Smart Geometry Update

by Terri Peters

The nature of architecture and the performance of materials are deeply linked. The nature of materials defines the stuff that surrounds us, and architecture is concerned with the arrangement of this "stuff."

As computational power increases, architects are able to consider larger and larger data sets. One way to focus those computing resources is to consider increasingly small building components.

This technological advancement is contributing to an increased interest in designing building materials. Nature provides examples of how materials can be designed - organized in ways that increase performance. But how can architects arrange the constituent parts of their buildings, right down to the molecular level, to achieve new levels of customization and performance?

This year's SmartGeometry conference tackled these concepts and others. The theme of the conference was on material design and digital design tools: investigating the architectural implications of hyper-specified materials, interactive responsive facades, responsive acoustic environments, bioactive wearable architecture, and more.

The four-day workshops and two public conference days were held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York, designed by Grimshaw Architects.

Co-Director of SmartGeometry, Xavier de Kestelier of Foster + Partners, explains that the main ideas behind this year's "Material Intensities" workshop sessions was to consider material efficiency when creating environments, micro-climates and contexts that are congenial for social interaction, activities, and organization.

"We wanted to ask: how can multiple properties of the same material be harnessed?" he explains. "Addressing these big ideas calls for design innovation and dialogue between disciplines and responsibilities."   >>>

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The 2012 SmartGeometry conference was held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (2008), in Troy, New York. The building was designed by Grimshaw Architects and features four acoustically distinct and specialized spaces for sound in one venue.
Photo: Matt Wade Extra Large Image

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The six-day annual SmartGeometry conference aims to explore ideas bridging academia and research. The 2012 theme, "Material Intensities," sought to consider material efficiency in placemaking.
Photo: Courtesy SmartGeometry Extra Large Image


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