2013 - 2014: Flights of Fancy
Ruairi Glynn, Christopher Leung, William Bondin
“We believe in the possibility of an incalculable number of human transformations, and we say without smiling that wings sleep in the flesh of man” – Multiplied Man and the Reign of the Machine (1911), Marinetti
From the birdlike automaton of 4th Century BC Greek Philosopher Archytas and 3rd Century BC Chinese Inventor Lu Ban, to the daring manned flights of the Wright Brothers, and heroic Apollo Missions, flight, for millennia, has inspired great leaps of imagination in design and engineering. Its story is rich in extraordinary personalities such as the 13th Century Eilmer of Malmesbury (the flying monk) and the Renaissance’s Leonardo Da Vinci. Then came the pioneering Balloonists of the Montgolfier Brothers, the groundbreaking Aeronautics Physicist Sir George Cayley, and the fearless glider enthusiast Otto Lilienthal.
Whether they were hard scientists & engineers who worked from sound scientific principles, pursuing their dreams with clever innovation, or passionate tinkerers, dreamers, and idealistic eccentrics - the evolution of flying machines, is as much a tale of single minded determination as it is of ingenuity. These great inventors were viewed as charlatans, at times mystics and to many as madmen but they overcame gravity, the force that had held man beneath the sky. As Aviator and Poet John Gillespie Magee put it, the invention of flight allowed man to “reach out his hand and touch the face of God”.
Flight gave man a great new confidence, that the heavens could be conquered, that no challenge was beyond human ingenuity. And with our new found confidence we reached for the stars, and split the atom. And with these god like powers we held within our hands the ability to destroy ourselves. As the Father of the Atom Bomb J. Robert Oppenheimer remarked, borrowing words from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Today, in an age of super computing and synthetic biology, we’ve decoded the human genome, cloned and engineered our very own body tissues. Unlocking great cures and at the same moment terrifying weapons. Biology is the new disruptive technology, no longer only in the hands of scientists, but tinkerers, dreamers, and idealistic eccentrics. It all begs the question - What new god like powers are we playing with? What new wings might we find in the flesh of man?
RC3 Interactive Architecture Lab
The Interactive Architecture Lab is a multi-disciplinary research cluster interested in the Behaviour and Interaction of Things, Environments and their Inhabitants. Areas of focus include Responsive Environments, Internet of Things, Kinetic Design & Robotics, Performance & Choreography, Adaptive Architecture, Biological & Material Computation, Control Theory & Cybernetics, Multi-Sensory Interfaces, and Interaction & Material Futures.
This years studio is structured in 3 parts which develop technical and theoretical skills in parallel. Each year a theme (such as this years theme of flight) drives early research exploration and the development of core skills. The studio however actively encourages students to break out and develop their own research agendas over the course of the year.
Projects of exceptional Merit are also encouraged to be published in academic papers and journals. In the previous academic year a total of 5 papers were accepted to International Peer Reviewed Conferences. Students were also widely published in leading design and technology publications such as Wired and Mashable (William Bondin), Dezeen (Ling Tan), Creators Project (Chryssa Varna), We Make Money Not Art (Shchong Li), CNET, Architizer to name a few.
Term 1. Project Icarus
When in Greek Mythology Daedulus the architect of the Labyrinth built his son Icarus wings from wax and feathers – youthful ambition, ignorance, and fearlessness led Icarus to fly too close to the sun and fall back to earth. In this term we encourage students to fail. To push materials to destruction, to push their own technical capabilities to new levels, gathering along the way a rich set of analog and digital skills in design and making that will support their studies for the rest of the year. We will examine the relationship between the technologies of flight and those of architecture. From the design of light weight composite materials and structures, to dynamic control systems, from computational fluid simulations and aerodynamic design, to even aerial robotic choreography.
Term 2. Bio-Design Workshop “Fabrics of Life”
Collaborating with the Medical Research Council & MA Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins we will hold a special month long workshop. Working with some of the UK’s leading scientists in fields of epigenetics, bespoke genomics, cell communication, neuroscience, bio-molecular and clinical sciences we will explore how the biological sciences offer designers new “living” technologies to expand the practice of design. With the power to create new life forms, we will also explore the ethical implications of playing god and speculate on the future implications to the built environment.
Field Trip - February 2014
We will leave London for a road trip across Europe visiting Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and the Netherlands. The first destination will be www.fabricate2014.org conference held at ETH Zurich. The tri-annual conference co-founded by RC3 Studio Leader Ruairi Glynn and Bartlett Director of Technology Prof. Bob Sheil will over two days bring together world leaders in digital design and fabrication.
Also on the trip students will get an opportunity to fly at the Davos Paragliding Club, visit Peter Zumthor’s Thermal Baths in Vals, the Cathedral at Ronchamp by Corbusier, the Tinguely Museum in Basel, The Palace of Versailles (The location of the first Balloon flight), Paris Centre Pompidou and the Eiffel Tower (The site of Franz Reichel’s fateful flight), finally ending our trip at Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest Workshop in Delft.
Term 3. Project Daedulus
Bringing together the amassed skills and experiences of the first two terms we will begin focusing and forming distinct research goals for students projects. This is a time where agendas get set that not only promise to offer interesting and challenging goals for the Masters but we hope, life long passions that drive successful and distinct practices.
Ruairi Glynn practices as an installation artist and architectural researcher. He has exhibited his work internationally, most recently at Tate Modern London, the Centre Pompidou Paris, and the National Art Museum Beijing. He is Lecturer in Interactive Architecture at the Bartlett and teaches on both the MArch Graduate Architectural Design (RC3) & MSc Adaptive Architecture and Computation programmes. Study across both his courses is based on a design through making methodology, with an emphasis on using and misusing digital and material technologies. The studio builds and tests at 1:1 scale, experimental objects and interactive installations that uncover new design opportunities to sense and respond to the natural and built environment, to people and other living things, to data local and global. This work is done in collaboration with his Associate Lectureship on the MA Textile Futures programme at Central Saint Martins, University of Arts London.
Christopher Leung is an architect with current research interests in how buildings can be designed to adapt to daily and seasonal cycles through variable performance movable building components. His work raises questions about the relationship between machines, occupants and buildings that can be explored through studio-based design projects. His research output and project work has been published in peer-reviewed journal articles together with his collaborations in the sixteen*(makers) group http://www.sixteenmakers.com/. He is the co-author of a number of patent applications for inventions related to passive technologies applied to buildings. His doctoral research investigated the possibilities of novel thermal actuators for exploiting the passive flows of energy around buildings as means to physically modify the performance of a building's envelope. He graduated from the Bartlett’s interactive architecture workshop with an installation exploring the relation between occupation and responsive lighting.
William is a Maltese architect and creator of Morphs - a reconﬁgurable interactive architectural system developed under the supervision of Ruairi Glynn. He completed his professional studies in Malta (UoM) and then undertook research at The Bartlett (UCL) graduating with distinction from RC3 Interactive Architecture Lab. His work has been published widely. Inspired by the architectural works of Ron Herron and Buckminster Fuller, and the robotic theories of Rolf Pﬁefer and Rodney Brooks, his design practice takes a fabrication-oriented approach towards architectural performance and behaviour.