LIGHT FOREST Review

by Elif Erdine and Alexandros Kallegias
AA DLab Visiting School 2013

01 November 2013
Architectural Association, London and Hooke Park, Dorset

 

Light Forest is the final working prototype of the DLab Visiting School, which took place at the AA campuses in both London and Hooke Park from 22 July to 04 August 2013.

 

On the ground or on the wall, Light Forest grows and illuminates its surroundings. As a living system it spreads itself through the space and deploys its kinetic calyxes to give light. As an interactive artefact it allows communication between itself and the people around it. Light Forest is a complex body of kinetic parts which alters the perception of space when activated. Comprised of a central nervous system and a tessellated, kinetic surface, Light Forest allows for passersby to experience interaction through direct contact.

 

Using a patterned field of fine filaments, the alien brain of Light Forest is able to receive external stimuli. The brain then exerts centralised control over the digitally created organs of its structure; these subtle movements on the surface generate various light formations in space. As the different light patterns fill the room, people experience interaction in a way that is as much direct as it is linked to subliminal stimuli.

 

DLab aims to conceive innovative design proposals which correlate human activities with interactive formations by taking inspiration from biological systems. By fusing the qualities of natural processes with the notion of spatial reconfiguration, our goal is to generate design systems where the architect does not get involved with creating an end product according to rules or parameters, but instead initiates a system whose effects will be continuously adapted on a multitude of interdependent levels. As such, while we posit the possibility of self-organised architectures, we also seek to speculate on the current role of the architect in contemporary architectural discourse.

In 2013, we explored the themes of generative design, kinetic design, interactive design, and large-scale fabrication technologies. The computational setup for the design explorations has reflected the characteristics of self-organisation, which are observed at a range of scales in nature. In the context of DLab’s design task, diffusion elements have become the lower level components inscribed with information relating to their physical constraints, form, reaction to external stimuli, and interaction with one another. Students have observed the behaviour of the generative systems with the manipulation of input parameters and the performance of the resulting simulations. The computational toolset of the workshop has been Processing, Grasshopper and Arduino.

 

One of the major objectives of the visiting school this year was to demonstrate the continuity of the workflow between computational software and digital assembly procedures leading to physical fabrication. In this respect, during the development of each design unit’s proposals, students fabricated kinetic physical models at various scales. Participants had access to the Digital Prototyping Lab (DPL) for the fabrication of prototypes or models in various mediums and materials involving CNC techniques, such as laser-cutting, milling, 3d-printing, and other forms of physical output.

 

A one-to-one scale working prototype of a kinetic and interactive light-diffusing system was built when we relocated to Hooke Park for the second phase. The concept of having a structure that is related to motion and real-time reaction to external stimuli is no longer an idea of the past but can be realised by means already being used in everyday life. The notion of permanence gives way to the constant flux of building formations. Transformation via human interaction can take place at a variety of scales, ranging from dynamic structural properties and acoustic performance to ambient lighting effects which have the potential of altering the perception and the actual configuration of space.

 

For more information:

Light Forest will be exhibited in the Back Members’ Room from 16 November to 14 December 2013

AA DLab Microsite

Light Forest, AA DLab 2013
Image credit: Elif Erdine

Light and structure
Image credit: Elif Erdine

Interacting with Light Forest as installed at Hooke Park
Image credit: Elif Erdine