Daniel Coll i Capdevila
Initially a structural and spatial organization was developed as a principal language to be examined and tested on different scales and for different uses. Once discovered, its nature would serve as a series of generative rules that would inform the designs. The origin of spatial and structural potential was found in a small particle of information. Pixels within a photograph become the root of the abstract generator.
The Pankese School Extension project originates as a systematic organization of points that relate to each other through connections. The lines of these connections are the source for the establishment of surfaces, the skin that gives form to the architecture. Hyperbolic paraboloids appeared as principles and were used as techniques.
Analyzing existing architectural examples and site-specific conditions was the key to finding relevant information for this design. The proposal follows a free morphing surface influenced mainly by dynamic circulation and sunlight diagrams. Characteristics ranging from annual rainfall and erosion to the cultural and social behavior of Pankese’s students were then added to the list, exponentially upgrading the system. The resulting proposal shapes and models its geometry based on a sequence of particular parameters, suggesting a strong relationship with place and user. As the new architecture is mainly designed for the students, the relative low heights of the roof define the space keeping adults out of these areas. The way the structure makes contact with the ground allows children to climb over, thereby invading the upper skin of the building.
A trip to Pankese gave Unit 4 an opportunity to realize the project learning about materials and details of construction. It was a moment of rethinking and questioning the performance and acceptance of the design. During construction, the inhabitants of the village would ask about the unusual structure and were involved in the process of making.
The Barbican was chosen as the site for testing this system’s mutability. The “Responding House” is a platform characterized by the activities and necessities of the urban worker and dweller. Pedestrian commuters, office workers taking lunch breaks, and tourists visiting the Museum of London all intervene in the site, creating a dynamic set of conditions to which the platform must adapt. This responsive and flexible system, capable of coping with and providing for a host of uses, is further tested in relation to weather changes and cultural preferences. Similar parameters (with new values) perform as an invisible layer of information responding to the modeling and materialization of the new architecture. I have produced a habitable surface that is capable of responding over time to various conditions like internal and external activities, programmatic necessities, views, and weather conditions.
Information is the driving ingredient for a contemporary progressive architecture. Therefore, research about how information can inform form and make form perform is of great value. The question is how to define abstract consistent-transformation processes, processes capable of instigating newness in architecture. The focus lies within the “process” of working rather than on the particularities of the projects or sites at hand.
The quality of Daniel’s process lies in its discipline, rigor, and consistency. This, coupled with his daring and his ability to accept unanticipated effects within the elaboration of the project, allows him to pursue open-ended problems with an architectural formulation
In a short project around the topic of scalelessness, he developed a 3D spatial structure from a landscape-scale photograph. Via a transformation process for which he set out the rules, and with an exceptional level of discipline and consistency, he unashamedly exploited the new structural, spatial and surface potential offered by the abstract processes designed within the beginnings of the project
Subsequently Daniel investigated historical school systems in search of relevant “tweakable” information or latent “exploitable” potential, in preparation for a school/library project for a small village in Ghana. In this part he informed the potential exploitation processes with relevant information
Finally, he took the system he had developed over the course of the year and reinvestigated it in the context of a London site and a domestic program. The two culturally and climatologically different sites helped to test the adaptability and flexibility of the developed systems as well as demand a real understanding of context and site
With attention to detail and a feel for beauty, Daniel produced a real understanding that any bit of process harbors potential. His work is in itself a true process: an infinite sequence of carefully considered and beautifully drawn investigations that over time will unavoidably produce architectural quality.
Daniel Coll i Capdevila