Cezemat (Centrum Zaawansowanych Materiałów i Technologii) organized a design competition in 2011 for his new laboratory in Warsawa. IDOM made a proposal composed in 3 building blocks. One building for parking, the second building for administration and the third for laboratory-research. Between the first and second building block, we proposed the main entrance as a green house garden. The three proposed buildings were covered with a lightweight structure for 2 main reasons. First, Avoid the HVAC units to work under low temperatures during the winter and also allow some sort of activation around the buildings, to host informal meetings under the green house garden. I was in charge in the design and parametrization for the greenhouse envelope.
The design process consisted in implement the surface "relaxation" technique, which is based on Gaudí's form finding experiments. Instead of use chains and sand loads, I used a mathematical model implemented through scripting. The interested points occurs when the surface is “relaxed” and the surface tension is close to “0” and the model becomes structural stable (soap bubble). Therefore, the amount of material can be reduced, because the result of the shape is structural optimized.
In the second step, wind loads were applied to the surface. Imagine for few seconds a soap bubble floating in the open space and the wind pushing and pulling their original sphere shape. Although the surface is modified and is pushed by the wind loads the surface tension is still closer to "0". At the end of this step we took the decisions to drive the surface design to the ideal architectural solution. Then we "freeze" the surface design process.
The third step, consisted in analyze the surface through scripting, in order to create the panels and define the structure. We choose an hexagon pattern to define the structure and use the hexagonal cells as a place holder to embed transparent panels, ventilation panels or photo-voltaic panels. The "behavior" of each panel depends off the location on the surface and the sun incidence during the hottest and coldest day in the year.
Unfortunately we didn't win, but we got the highest punctuation for architectural design and concept. Our weakest point was the budget to develop the building, despite the fact that the construction budget was not more expensive than others proposals. An architectural competition is a complex balance between concept, graphic, technique, budget and lucky.
Sequence of the surface relaxation experiments modified under wind loads
In red the surface selected to develop the envelope.
Architectural decision diagrams and surface analysis. The image on the right represents the vectors and their normalization.
Sun analysis studies. The colors, represents the cumulative sun incidence along the year.
The Map of all hexagonal cells and different skin behaviors. looks like a snake skin
Detailed image render to the skin