SYMMETRY SENTIENCE – INTERLACE : The Athens AA Visiting School 2017 Review

by Alexandros Kallegias, Director of the Athens AA Visiting School

26 November 2018
Athens, Greece


Team working on the assembly of INTERLACE

INTERLACE is the output of an exploration that has investigated physical transformation, interaction and wood materiality. It is part of an ongoing research with the international architecture programme AA Athens Visiting School in Greece. Part of this research was presented in architectural conferences in Athens from the 12th to 22nd June 2017.


In AAVS Athens real-time performative form-responsive methods based on bending and stretching have been developed and simulated in an open-source programming design environment. The educational programme explores form-finding through digital design and simulation. The output of the simulation is informed by results of parallel material tests that supports the fine-tuning of the simulation. Participants in the programme apply their design exploration findings in material systems, create architectural built prototypes, and get to grips with analogue computation. As the physical experiments provided insights in adjusting the design parameters of INTERLACE, digital experiments closer to the desired aim were then imported back into the programme Rhinoceros for the fabrication stage. 


When realising the prototype INTERLACE, the sequence of assembly became the driver of workflow. The lower-level components were pieced together into larger sections and the final structure was assembled in a sequence of layers. The prototype was about 2 meters tall and more than 5 meters long, completed in fewer than 5 days. This feat was made possible by the research and explorations of the participants, who worked with the light-weight veneer to make their prototypes.


INTERLACE prototype at the exhibition with the test models

These proposals were applied through the combination of different software including Processing and Rhino Grasshopper, while VR visualisations were made in 3DS Max, and Arduino was used as part of the interactive/kinetic component. The architectural programme was completed in a collaboration between the Architectural Association and AKTO Art & Design College, making use of the school’s studio and fabrication spaces. The students formed teams together to address the brief with their own unique design concepts as described here:

2m Continuum
(Anna Vasileiou, Maria Corina Fodor, Maria Kaldi)

In Continuum, space is treated as an action-reaction field, triggered and shaped by human input. The intensities of human flow are analysed and translated into triangles and axis creating a pattern basis. The space’s dynamic features are considered in the design, with the folding amphitheater partition integrated towards the open ground floor. The main aim is to activate and manipulate the space as an entirety on a perceptual and practical level.

Design and Construction Test Series

In our design concept, the conventional idea of a wall is reversed by linked curved veneer components, following sound intensity, and articulated with lycra giving flexibility of movement. Further on, the wall was transformed into a system of curved components and helium balloons, making the structure able to float and interact with motion. These curved parts of the shell are combined vertically or horizontally to form a new roof in the space, generating a final iteration. In certain areas, three parts of different dimensions are superposed with the lowest part, rotated downward, artificially illuminating the space through motion sensors system aiming to define different spatial qualities. The joinery is categorised in two typologies: one is tangential with the surfaces at the perimeter, attached using adhesive, and the second is axially rotated on a fixed point.


676 SH(K)ELL
(Na Tang, Cecile Ngoc Suong Perdu, Stavros Sgouros)

The design of the SH(K)ELL is informed by studies of biomimicry, with a motivation to create an intervention that is visually animalistic and reacts like a creature. Design decisions were made through trial and error studies with materials to sift through the unsuitable schemes and movements. Using veneer, we carried out tests of flexibility, treating with water, moulding the form and forcing a physical model of configuration. Lycra was a challenging material for us, and our strategy was to use this as tensile material connecting movable modules to structural modules, in order to create an overlaid pattern. The scheme evolved from a free-form design to a more controlled and modular configuration where the end-result was created through a repeated set of design rules. The modularity revealed problems of scale and impacted the movement. The scale of each module decreased and the entire partition no longer moved, only specific modules. In the final iteration, modules were divided in function: smaller arches are more structural, static and are reinforced for stability purposes; the lighter arches, attached as wings, open and close. Movement of the modules is linked with light, reacting to people approaching and moving around the wall. Movement is abrupt to imitate a startled animal falling back to rest, with lighting is abruptly increasing and fading gradually.

B2I InTension
(Selen Bas, Zoe Biniari, Dimitris Iosifidis)

InTension Proposal by B2I Team

Team B2I aimed to create a wall that is designed only with necessary elements while remaining functional. At the same time the final form derives from a parametric approach. The potentials of each material, wood veneer and lycra, was explored and after many experiments, the final design was based on two modules. The first is a triangular shaped component that was used to connect to the second component set, this is made of squares. Finally, the composition is a three-dimensional volume in the space. The project is named InTension, depicting the tension of forces that run through the structure. In the design process, the movement of the structure has been a constant part of investigation. A clear understanding of how the two components, through repetition, can be integrated and work together continued until the final stage of design. While the design methodology was quite unusual and demanding, the procedure ended up being truly creative, opening up to a quite rigorous and unconventional kind of architecture.


Analogue exploration of wood veneer properties

Technical Details:
10 days : Duration of programme
5 days : Design development, fabrication, assembly
40 hours : Fabrication, assembly time
3 : Mechatronics sets (Arduino)
5×1.9×0.4 m : Wooden partition system


Programme Director: Alexandros Kallegias
Akto Coordinator: Evangelos Kanellopoulos
Tutors: Daniel Zaldivar, Qi Cao, Alexandros Kallegias, Yannis Efstathiou, Eirini Vouliouri, Kaushik Sardesai
Teaching Assistants: Petros Partalidis, Grigorios-Angelos Bodiotis, Evangelos Kanelis
Students: Anna Vasileiou, Maria Corina Fodor, Na Tang, Cecile Ngoc Suong Perdu, Zoe Biniari, Dimitris Iosifidis, Stavros Sgouros, Selen Bas, Maria Kaldi
Photography: Alice Mangoyan, Elpida Kafantari


For more information:
Athens AA Visiting School Brief
AA Athens Visiting School microsite
AAVS Athens on AA Conversations