Michael Hansmeyer, the genius behind the most complex architecture ever created, is back at it again - this time with 9 foot columns made from plastic rather than cardboard. On display now at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011, the Sixth Order installation is a series of four amazingly intricate columns created through a process Hansmeyer calls computational architecture. An algorithm creates the model, which includes an astounding 16 million unique facets, which are then CNC cut from plastic sheets. While the columns look like something unearthed out of a crypt, they are surprisingly strong and Hansmeyer's techniques have the potential to revolutionize architecture and construction as we know it.
Hansmeyer’s process involves creating an algorithm to design the structure of the Doric column. In the case of the Gwangju Design Biennale installation, none of the four columns share a single surface or motif in common. Yet, when grouped together, they clearly work as a cohesive grouping because of their material and their shared fabrication process. The design for each 9 ft column is subdivided into 2,700 horizontal layers, which are then cut into ABS plastic by a CNC machine. These layers are hollowed out and stacked and held in place with a dual iron and wood core.
The Sixth Order installation draws on Hansmeyer’s work from earlier this year, which involved a very similar process, but was carried out with cardboard. By working with ABS plastic, Hansmeyer could achieve a higher cutting resolution, which gave hima smoother and less jagged surface, resulting in a effect more like carved ice than carved wood. For the installation, there are actually only four columns on display, but a series of mirrors gives the effect that there are actually 16, allowing visitors to appreciate every side.
The meat of Hansmeyer’s work is more than just creating amazing sculptures with advanced techniques. His work could really change the way we design and build structures. At the intersection of math and materials is increased efficiency in terms of resources, strength, and any number of qualities we hope to achieve. The key to sturdier, more earth resistant structures could lie in creating the right algorithms. We could also maximize structural integrity while minimizing material use. In essence, Hansmeyer is laying the foundation for a whole new way to think about materials, architecture, and construction.
Images ©Michael Hansemeyer