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ACTIU Berbegal y Formas, S.A.
Trans-Computational membranes or a new way of understanding new flexible and adaptable architectonic ways

Trans-Computational membranes or a new way of understanding new flexible and adaptable architectonic ways

SEPTEMBER 2014 | 4 minutes

AA Visiting School is a workshop organised by the London Architectural Association and The European University in Madrid where through the use of workshops and conferences with leading international architects who reflect on the flexible structures applied to architecture. This year the workshop was held at the Roca Madrid Gallery and Actiu was a sponsor for the second year running.

One of the most prestigious architectural schools in the world, The Architectural Association de Londres, held, for the second year running a workshop in Madrid using the format of the AA Visiting School. It is an international meeting with students and young architects where they reflect on the importance of Trans-Computational Membranes. (Intelligent flexible materials) in current architecture. From 2 to 12 September and by means of chats and workshops, a selected group of 30 worldwide students with concerns that go beyond traditional teaching, discovered how these design methods present a genuine social and structural change in the construction shapes so far. Actiu participated in an active way in this project as a collaborator and sponsor.

Every year, new improvements in materials and software break through so that every day we are closer to a reality project which will become a common way of construction. The new flexible structures enable the building of ephemeral buildings which adapt themselves to the needs and use of space. These new systems are formed via Trans-computational membranes, a concept that mixes flexible materials with multiple layers and the protection of these via software, due to the difficulties that need to be calculated for its high density of information.

Although at the moment its use is restricted to the construction of pavilions, tents and temporary coverings, the objective is to incorporate these techniques to more actively shape the world of architecture. For this reason, along with workshops, the AA visiting School has organised a series of free conferences open to the public, with top international architects noted for their use of computer skills and/or pneumatic structures and membranes in their projects.

Leading architects, such as Tom Wiscombe, one of the great speakers on this type of flexible architecture with more than 20 years’ experience spent some time at these conferences: as well as Jacob Van Rijs, one of the directors of the well-known architecture studio MVRDV situated in Rotterdam, and with international projects around the world such as China and India. It is in these new spaces where the studios have had a great success in adaptation: they had to change their construction scales. It is not the same to design a building in Europe for hundreds of people as it is in India or China, where each project must bring thousands of people together.

Regarding the use of Trans Computational membranes, the work of the designer Gilles Retsin, from the studio Softkill Design is one of the best examples of these new techniques developed through computer algorithms. PhotoHouse is one of its creations, a high resolution prototype of a house produced in 3D to a scale 1:33 by use of flexible materials.

Also, the Spanish veteran José Miguel Prada Poole, National Architecture Prize winner in 1975, a long-time advocate of ephemeral architecture, that is one that leaves no footprint on nature but is created for a particular service, attended.His work was pioneer in opening the eyes of visitors to new construction ways. Plastic domes in the middle of `Paso de la Castellana´, an inflatable ice rink in the middle of Seville or the projects that were never carried out such as a stretched tent to cover Columbus in Barcelona.

Complex geometry artists are the architects Efrén García Grinda and Cristina Díaz Moreno, from the studio ADMIN.cero9 and teachers from the AA School, the IoA Institute (Vienna), UEM (Madrid)...Their covered structures formed via complex geometries characterise them in each one of their constructions and for this reason, accumulate a great number of national and international prizes.

In London one can find the professor of the AA and the Bartlett School in London, Ricardo from Ostos, from the studio NaJa & de Ostos. His use of Trans-computational membranes in many projects has already made samples of this type of construction in spaces such as the Football World Cup this summer in Brazil.

From Spain, students were able to learn about Carlos Arroyo´s architecture, characterised by being movable, variable, chameleon like, sustainable and adaptable to the space it which it was designed. This Spanish architect considered as one of the 10 top best architects emerging from Spain, has work throughout Europe and many of them have been considered as urban benchmarks in their locations.

Other architects such as Araguren + Gallegos Arquitectos, and designers have also participated, amongst other buildings, the new museum of the ABC newspaper.

Actiu for the second year running participated in this project as a sponsor of a workshop which enabled some students to attend and furthermore, the acquisition of material. In this workshop, the students developed a project using membranes with the aim to create a pavilion. For this flexible prototypes to real scale and behavioural simulations of such structures using advanced design tools, created ephemeral spaces which are a good examples of the power and capacity of these new construction trends.