Visiting School

Crafted Tower
Istanbul Technical University
16–24 April 2011

In spring 2011 the AA held its first Istanbul Visiting School in collaboration with Istanbul Technical University. This ten-day team-based workshop explored tall structures through vertical growth algorithms by focusing on local crafts. The main aim of the Istanbul Visiting School was to revisit the forms of complexity in local construction techniques, and to investigate the potential of re-linking the observed complexity to contemporary digital design thinking/production within the context of tall structures.

Local crafts were investigated as material systems which are comprised of various subsystems intricately interrelated to each other at different levels (layering, weaving, overlaying). This organisational logic was extracted in order to develop interior and exterior systems of tall structures. As such, the tower, an architectural typology that has kept a relatively stable organisational structure and formal language since the end of the nineteenth century, was challenged. The objective was to extract information from crafted models in terms of formal, structural and functional behaviour as well as their ecological aspects in order to explore computationally generated dynamic models for the tower typology.

The parametric toolset for the studios was Rhino, Grasshopper, scripting within Grasshopper using VB.net and Processing. The exploration of diverse parametric platforms and their associated outcomes enabled the participants to grasp the discrete approaches taken towards parametric design. After a brief common module that introduced students to Rhino, Grasshopper, Processing and a scripting crash course, the studio was split into units, focused on the same objectives with different briefs.

During visits and sessions, students benefited from getting hands on experience towards the integration of analogue and digital tools in a context-specific brief. Integrating crafts and computation, latest fabrication techniques were explored. Model-making and the testing of different digital fabrication methods were integral to the workshop. A series of seminars and lectures relating to computational design and Istanbul’s contemporary architecture were organised as part of the course.

Director                                                                     Elif Erdine is a PhD candidate at the AA, working on ‘A Design Research Towards a Parametric Proto Tower’. She has been working at Zaha Hadid Architects since graduating from the AADRL in 2006.