by Alexandros Kallegias, Director of AA Greece Visiting School
22 September – 01 October 2014 Patras, Greece: AA Greece Visiting School 2014   The AA Greece Visiting School is a mobile programme, constantly traveling to reach cities outside the country’s capital. It functions as an educational ‘satellite’ that disseminates the Architectural Association’s intimate and intensive form of teaching and learning around the country. In 2014, the AA Greece Visiting School began its design explorations in the city of Patras, in collaboration with the Architecture Department of Patras University.   [caption id="attachment_3890" align="alignnone" width="360"]A view of Aethyr’s interior A view of Aethyr’s interior[/caption] Having successfully reached its goal to extract information from the existing urban conditions of Patras, and by re-interpreting the extracted data, participants of the AA Greece Visiting School constructed a one-to-one scale, interactive prototype. A series of interesting and exciting design explorations were conducted through a range of digital and physical experiments over the course of the programme. Real-time generative form-finding methods set correlations between the digital process of design and the physical world of fabrication and materiality. These experiments were simultaneously coupled with small scale physical model-making techniques (laser-cutting) in order to establish the calibration between the digital and the physical realms.   The AA Greece Visiting School is ongoing, continuing to explore the themes of generative design, material computation, digital fabrication and assembly technologies in the cities of Thessaloniki and Chania. This research includes the construction of large-scale models; acting as nodes of communication. The very first one was successfully completed last week. This architectural prototype is called Aethyr.   [caption id="attachment_3891" align="alignnone" width="360"]The prototype being assembled The prototype being assembled[/caption] AETHYR AETHYR is the result of digital simulations coupled with physical programming and fabrication techniques. Achieving the goal to design and fabricate an interactive/kinetic architectural prototype at a 1-to-1 scale, the 2014 prototype is influenced and informed by the urban characteristics of Patras, specifically daily weather data, and human presence, calculated through local density and distance values. The prototype is comprised of rigid and soft parts acting as a transformable installation, suspended in space at the University of Patras. Fabricated with kite fabric and steel-plate pieces, the prototype is positioned 3.5 meters high in space, allowing people to walk, work and talk underneath it. Animated with Arduino electronics, it reacts to external stimuli created by human presence, as well as a live stream of urban data relating to the local weather. Thus, the interaction becomes two-fold and allows for an additional level of interplay.
The form of the prototype emerges from a set of design explorations which are focused on natural movements. Such formations include attractive forces, repulsive forces and spiral forces. The fabrication was completed with the use of digital machines, consequent of a series of digital simulations. It occupies an area of 7 meters long by 4 meters wide. The movement affects the vertical shape of the model enabling a growth in thickness from 0.5 to 1 meter. As part of the user experience and interaction, a series of flickering LED lights were installed in order to alter the perception of the piece itself as well as the area it inhabits.   Team proposals:   An Other View (Vasiliki Chairopoulou, Konstantinos Chatzikalymnios, Yannis Giannakopoulos, Athanasios Kotsalis, Eugenia Spyridonos) Being a major naval port, the city of Patras is characterised by its distinct urban grid typology. By identifying the main areas of the city, the ‘An Other View’ team mapped the respective grid lines as part of their design proposal. These grid lines were then re-shaped and used as rigid pieces of their prototype. The team suggested a scaled model of the city’s main areas where certain divisions would be in constant transformation according to the activities and events taking place in these locations. The result appeared as an elegant pair of flying wings that were inspired by the city’s particular urban design.   [caption id="attachment_3892" align="alignnone" width="360"]Aethyr in context Aethyr in context[/caption] Deformative Quake (Dimitra Askouni, Anna Giotakou, Anastasia Ioannidi, Sotiris Monachogios, Chrysostomos Nousias) The ‘Deformative Quake’ team created a model that is perceived as a view to the city’s history of seismic activity. Located close to one of Greece’s most active seismic areas, Patras has a long history of earthquakes, which have been documented and archived. Deformative Quake made use of this data in different ways to affect their prototype’s transformation. Apart from being a way to inform visitors of the city’s seismic history, the team correlated the size of every quake to the number of visitors in the room.   Inside – Out (Sofia Sofianou, Emmanouil Megalooikonomou, Vanessa Hadjinicola, Eleftherios Papamichelakis, Georgia Giassia) Inspired by the aquatic element, team ‘Inside-Out’ used the transparent fluid of the city’s port as a starting point for their design investigations. The team experimented on a series of various wave-type forms by analysing their kinematics and applying the principal mathematics of fluid dynamics, for their ceiling canopy. The design proposal included environmental sensors that can pick up changes in the city’s weather on a daily basis. The changes were then translated into different movements of the canopy.   [caption id="attachment_3893" align="alignnone" width="360"]Aethyr moving while actively being lit Aethyr moving while actively being lit[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3894" align="alignnone" width="360"]Aethyr’s nervous circuit Aethyr’s nervous circuit[/caption] iPeak–a-Path (Chris Orhodoxos Loizou, Evangelos Polykandriotis, Sofia Ioannidi, Maria Galani, Katiana-Maria Lioga) Redefining the way in which the S5 building is used and perceived by its users (students, lecturers, librarians), the ‘iPeak-a-Path’ team proposed a ceiling canopy as a way of contact or no-contact interface among the people who visit the space. The design interpretation of the structure was manifested through the multiple divisions between the lecture space and the library area. Specific lines of sight were selected as initial design guides for partitioning the ceiling space into regions based on “closeness”. Each region includes a malleable element that expands and contracts according to various scenarios that intelligently allow or prevent visual connections.   [para] noise (Tiago Andre Martins Gomes, Kalliopi Valsamidou, Aidonis–Donatos Besis, Rafaela Charalampoudi, Dafni-Christina Papadopoulou) With an aim to control the sound conditions of the S5 building lecture hall, the ‘[para] noise’ team proposed a system of expandable soft elements that can absorb noise. The system’s design followed a tessellation pattern based on the division of space according to specific sound sources. The pattern acted as the rigid grid of cells onto which four different fabric tubes connect and pass under. Each time there was a need for sound control, according to the type of noise; the tubes either expanded or contracted. Thanks to the smart of use of sensors and actuators, the proposal was able to react to the area’s sound conditions and simultaneously provided a visual representation of these conditions each time.   [caption id="attachment_3895" align="alignnone" width="360"]Outdoor prototype preparation Outdoor prototype preparation[/caption] See – Link (Panagiotis Koulakoglou, Danai Nikoloudaki, Nikolas Kofopoulos, Niki Pagrati, Theodore Georgopoulos) The ‘See-Link’ team recognised the S5 building as the centre of the Architecture Department of Patras University and proposed a design model that is informed by the activities in the various other buildings on campus. The model was comprised of five separate flexible extensions, each one representative of each of the five other buildings of the school. While set above the ground floor at a height of 5.5 metres, the materiality of the prototype enabled it to be stretched, allowing it to expand towards different directions in space. Together with the inventive use of lighting devices such as LEDs, ‘See-Link’ designed an interactive ceiling canopy which made students, lecturers and visitors more aware of what is taking place on campus while being in the S5 building.   For more information: Visit the AA Greece Visiting School microsite Patras Coordinator /Department Head: Prof. Kathrine A.Liapi Tutors: Alexandros Kallegias, Ollie Palmer, Stella Dourtme, Omar Ibraz, Maria Brewster, Antonis Papamanolis, Demetra Milona