Authors : Polina Alexeeva, Junjie Guo and Charmaine Lam

University : Southern California Institute of Architecture

Status : MArch, 2015

Advisor : Casey Rehm

Title : Weird Nature

Since the ostensibly natural site of Cala Montjoi is actually synthetic and extremely curated, our design for the elBulli creativity campus is neither about being biomimetic nor about its integration with nature. Weird Nature fiercely takes the opposite direction and aims to actually amplify the strictly [ synthetic ] by producing abstract architectural forms and geometries; challenging our design and pushing it to the same level of intricacy that one can find in nature.

Our project is exploring the conflict between the  [ production ] of an object and the  [ dissolution ] of it. We aim to push to the extreme of artificiality. Throughout the design process, we worked away from natural organic forms; instead we further researched and implemented abstract architectural forms geometries. One of the interesting aspect of this project is the hyper-detailed new forms that emerged; their intricacies rivaled with nature. There is no longer a clear separation between biological and synthetic; they both exist in the same level of intricacy and continuity. This project aims to push and dissolve the abstract geometries to the readings of the intricacy of the naturals.

Weird Nature is composed of five intricate systems. The first system is a series of  [ aggregated ] cubic forms used to further carve out spaces within the accumulated massing, to explore the spatial potentials. The glass cube and its surrounding area are reserved for the laboratory area. The middle void is used for research and library, and also acting as a buffer zone between the residential part and the lab.

For the second system, various resolutions of the grid systems are punctured onto both the site and massing for organization. They serve to develop and imply structural system and to divide up the spaces within. We’ve furthered the notion of  [ collaging ] the site, and layering different geometries for various functions: the lattice on site becomes agricultural and fish farm areas for the restaurant and residents. Our goal is to produce a sense of  [ fragmentation ] but also imply connection. We have a third system where the outer stripe perforated shell implies the continuity between different forms/ buildings on site. While it is discreet, it also produces the kind of interstitial space between the volume and the skin, enclosing functions such as terraces and hydroponics growing for the lab.

Grid-like fiber structures are the fourth system that is generated through the relationship between the exterior of the sphere aggregation and the interior of the cube for the lab- using multi agent system to generate floor plates, structure and partitions. Against some of the fibers, digital screens with media content are extruded. The fifth system is the texture. We are playing with the notion of figure and void in both colors and forms. We used that as a method for introducing porosity into the lab and the windows throughout and to structure the surface- blurring the line between massing by using the texture and window openings.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Polina Alexeeva_ Intelligent multi-agent system, collages, the notion of super articulated & intricate geometries rivalling with nature, biological vs. synthetic, blurred readings.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
PA_ Installation art, rhetoric, philosophy, cultural studies, computer science, biomimicry.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
PA_ The key role of iteration in the design process, through experimentation and refinement.

S//A : Describe your dream project
PA_ Thesis all the time, No gravity environment based project.