Material in architecture is part of the repertoire for invention. The architect defines space and experience with material and the understanding of the material media is critical to the finesse of the built form. The ability to invent with any material is based on the understanding of and experimentation with that media. Historically in architecture, developments in the technologies of materials serve as catalysts for new languages of architecture. Timber on the West Coast of Canada has played a large role in the development of its architectural language – the West Coast Modern Architecture used predominantly timber post and beam to create its relationship between interior and exterior and its connection to the landscape. Today design culture can adress fragmented and heterogeneous architecture heavily influenced by digital tools, as well as by the new realtion to organic materials and nature.
The Virtual Design Studio is offered jointly by UBC, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Vancouver and ASK Program at Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology. VDS will investigate the material timber – not limiting ourselves to the pure and singular but looking at a more heterogenous interpretation. This approach will create composites or hybrids which will have inherently different material properties – a ‘bionic timber’. According to Oxford bionic denotes an artificial, typically electromechanical, body parts, but more recent and increasingly accepts definition see bionics as “application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology”.
Composite materials which combine timber with other materials such as glass, steel, carbon fibre, polycarbonates or silicon may yield innovative forms and configurations for design. The potentials of digital modeling, simulation and fabrication provide the architect with a bionic ability to gain understanding and manipulate materials. The ability to speculate on the material uses and the understanding of the material itself is enhanced by the digital and this realm then brought back to the physical, even iterating and learning and experimenting from the iterations. Hybridizing of the timber structure and engaging the power of parametric tools will lead to architectural speculations on a new architecture for the west coast of BC. Projects will be individual work and will progress in scale, from 1:1 fabrication of elements to body scale installation, to the final project which will be sited in Whistler, BC . Representation in this studio will be expanding our experience with the parametric, using Grasshopper in Rhino as well as any other digital tools relevant to the project. Main architectural project is to be situated in the British Columbia benefiting from design research and creativity of Warsaw and Vancouver based students.