Fibrous House 2012

Invited Distinguished Professor:  Roland Snooks. Kokkugia.


Gabriel Esquivel: Coordination and Fabrication.
Ryan Wilson, Project Manager and Designer
Drew Busmire, Jacob Patapoff, Emily Knapp, Hong Bea Yang,
Jose Padilla, Nick Gutierrez. Ashley Ricketson

Fabrication Team:
Jorge Cruz: Project Manager
Adrian Martinez, Cody May


This project a fibrous house, explores the generation of performative and ornamental geometries through agent-based formation of non-linear hierarchies and emergent patterns. The project questioned the contemporary understanding of component logic as elements that are subservient to a topological ordering device such as surface. Instead, this exploration looked at the ability of different scalar orders to emerge from the interaction of components at a local level. This contrasts the traditional design approach, which is often hierarchical, giving precedence to the generation of form first and then materializing it.


The house used an algorithmic “swarm logic” and parametrically adjusted it based on neighboring entities. This project did not respond to classic notions of structural or tectonic logics, or to design processes based on compositional strategies. “This agent or collective intelligence is embedded within the components, enabling the dissolution of normative architectonic hierarchies”. Instead, this was an investigation into creating a constantly shifting relationship between line, component, and surface. While there were no hierarchies encoded into the project, local and shifting hierarchies arose as an emergent property of the system. The project was concerned with both the emergence of figure through complex order from a field as well as the dissolution of the figure into abstraction.


Material paradigm shift


This type of metabolic non-linear project calls for a material paradigm shift, perhaps to combinations of rigid and semi-rigid materials, borrowing knowledge from aerospace engineering and the car industry. This paradigm shift from predominantly using rigid materials to incorporating semi-rigid materials was significant in the way we conceived this project, as it has direct effects not only on technology, but perhaps more significantly, on our culture.

While the phase change of fluid materials such as resins into hard, rigid materials is certainly critical for composite logics, this discussion is not altogether new. An alternate and possibly more contemporary way to push composite thinking forward is through the examination of the semi-rigid. Semi-rigid materials, such as are often found in biological expressions like cartilage, cuticle, and collagen, are yet to invade architecture. The applied materials industry is, however, beginning to support real research in this area with re-combinations of synthetic and biological materials and, more importantly, the ability to fabricate material gradients through the use of multi-material rapid prototyping and advance fabrication.




Nature is basically made up of indetermination protocols. Algorithms can stimulate the growth of a tree in terms of reproducing its geometry, but the fit between geometry-photosynthesis-equilibrium-growth is and always will be a hidden protocol that cannot be reduced to its simple mathematical and geometrical dimensions.

In this type of research, formulations taken from set theory were used to define these relationships. Its aim was to define the concepts of sets and belonging. This theory can be used to describe the structure of each situation as a kind of set defining the relationship between the parts and the whole, while taking into consideration that the latter cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts or even to the ensemble of relationships between the parts.


One aspect is comprised in computational, mathematical, and machinist procedures designed to produce an urban structure following certain protocols of improbable and uncertain successive indeterminations, aggregations, and layouts to rearticulate the link between the individual and the collective. The layout of the house and the structural trajectories are conceived and developed as posterior and recursive structural optimization to the morphologies that support social life and not as an a priori. The structures are calculated following simultaneously incremental and recursive structural optimization protocols whose principle result is the concurrently generated physicality and morphology of an architecture. The algorithm differs from direct calculation structural methods such as load bearing structure of the building after it has been designed. In contrast, we used an emergent method based on non-linear agent behaviors. The mathematical process of empirical optimization makes it possible for the architectural design to react and adapt to previously established constraints instead of the opposite.




For this project, a number of cellular algorithms were developed that organized a three-dimensional territory on the site. These algorithms are applied to abstract space into an array of cells that are identified individually as pertaining to a particular state. Their state is then changed in relation to neighboring cell states. Each of the rule sets developed offered radically different urban arrangements. These were evaluated, and a certain number of such rule sets were then deployed strategically at various locations on the site in time. These organizations are non-linear and therefore difficult to predict; however, they are repeatable. In this way, it is possible to design through emergence, indirectly, and through feedback mechanisms.