Verb Natures

by | 28. Aug 2012



Because everything grows, especially cities, the fifth volume of Actar’s Verb series looks for a new definition of the organic through architecture, graphics, and photography as well as visual and digital art.

Buildings and cities grow, are transformed and dissolve. How can this evolution be generated, controlled, enhanced or imagined? Is our environment programmable? How does the fusion of natural and artificial materials produce new architectural organisms, new environments, new natures? How does technology animate space and how do users and programs animate matter?

What is fascinating is the inability to separate the real from the digital, because they already form part of the same nature.



A key question in unlocking the geometric patterns in nature is how to use these techniques not simply to mimic natural forms, but as tools to solve entirely new problems set by the designer.

Taking as their task the design of a grotto, traditionally a man-made imitation of a natural cave, a type of the organic and the synthetic, Ben Aranda and Chris Lasch use an intensive exploration of computer-generated geometries and advanced fabrication technologies to produce a modern version of this space: a wholly man-made environment whose formal complexity transcends the artificial.

The structural unit of the grotto is the boulder. Like a brick it can stack. Unlike a brick, each boulder is different.


Since most of the spaces in the project would be made from purely compressive structures, a majority of the EPS foam boulders could simply be glued together. Only a few of the larger vaults, where rings are daisy-chained together, require any steel reinforcement.


The AlgorithmicSpace investigation is based on the principle of redundancy as a natural feature of organic structures. Guided by a simple set of structural rules and dimensional constraints, a computer program enables the creation of an efficient support system for a tiny bungalow: a “nestructure” that replaces the singular column with a dense mesh, more reminiscent of accretive natural structures than traditional load-bearing architectural systems.

Competition project for Kumamoto Artpolis, Japan.
First prize: Sosuke Fujimoto.
Theme: The Next generation Bungalow

AlgorithmicSpace Beach House
Shohei Matsukawa/000Studio

Sometimes naturally occurring geometries become not an invitation to unlock the rules behind their formation, but the direct formal inspiration for a project. In the case of the Watercube, by PTW Architects + Arup + CSCEC, the aquatic nature of the program provides the rationale for both the formal and structural organization of the project. Building in light weight ETFE fabric, the architectural equivalent of the membranes that form a bubble-structure, the Watercube directly scales the micro-structural properties of bubbles into the macro-scale of an Olympic swimming center.



The ultimate fusion of the organic and the man-made: the (artificial) reconstruction of a (natural) mountain, a pre-existing landscape (artificially) removed by excavation. Taking inspiration from the crystallographic studies of Viollet-Le-Duc, architectural analyst of mountains, the Dénia Project interpolates an ancient topography into a hexagonal geometry that scales from the crystalline to the geological. The result is truly “new nature:” a synthetic mountain artificially enhanced, equipped far beyond its original natural capacities.

“The process construction a hill and trying to make it usable generated another key issue: the question of whether the hypothetical roads that traverse it should come from a system excavated out of the limits of the hill (like the traditional paths to hermitages), or whether the hill itself ought to construct its own roads (as in the case of open quarries). we have concentrated on developing a system that will respond to the logic of the internal structure to allow for multiple movements across the skin, following various slopes, and creating a system of multiple itineraries. Instead of defining a hill with paths, the hill itself is the path.”
Vicente Guallart
Dénia Mountain Project


Combinations of different angles and scales of the base piece that forms a continous landscape, a scalable surface for climbing up the mountain.


A proposal for a non-static design methodology, one that both uses and derives from advanced technology. ONL, Swarm Architecture transports us into a new universe of architectural possibilities, creating novel realities and innovative architecture that challenges our preconceptions and guide us through unexperienced ways of living and understanding. This architecture is not static or unchanging, but more like a complex organism, which unfolds and evolves over time. Real-time input and exchange effects the shape, use, and appearance of their buildings and installations.
Kas Oosterhuis Programable Architecture book.


The MuscleBody consists of a continuous skin that incorporates all its architectural properties and makes no categorical distinctions such as floor, wall, ceiling, door.


This issue of Verb follows Verb 1, Verb Matters, Verb Connection and Verb Conditioning and marks the conclusion of a trajectory.

“Having mapped the current possibilities of architecture, from new processes of production to their impacts on the definition of architectural matter, the connections between programs and uses, the conditions of environments and behaviors, and ultimately the status of nature itself – we arrive at the end of a positive, optimistic exploration that has sought to find potential in new forces and technologies.

Now confronted with the inverse effects of these forces, in the rapid expansion of urban agglomerations, the increasing disparities of economic and social processes, and the looming specter of massive ecological changes, we arrive at a moment of crisis. A double crisis, both of our built environment and the status of architecture itself. How do we respond to these increasingly urgent problems and their consequences? How does dicipline have to reshape itself to respond to these challenges?

Having arrived at the limits of the possible, we must now confront the realities of what the technologies of globalization have produced.”

The challenge will be taken up in the next issue of Verb.