Composite Chair Masterclass by AA[n+1] Architecture & Analysis

The one-week workshop ran as an intensive training opportunity.

PARIS – AA[n+1] Architecture & Analysis brings together incisive, creative young minds, formally taking on what would best be described as curatorial roles. They belong to a small but outspoken group of digitally-literate individuals who, for the most part, have received teachings – or worked closely – with architects from EZCT Architecture & Design Research – a Franco-Dutch, research-oriented multidisciplinary studio which, for the last few years, has been tirelessly promoting the immeasurable potentialities of computational design and fabrication through both practice and academia.

In 2012, some of the firm’s principals were associated with the creation of the Digital Knowledge educational programme, a course plan taking roots at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais, seeking to present an updated view on the discipline – something that remains a contentious topic among the faculty’s professoriate – and allows students to get a first-hand look into the use of digital tools and methodologies to widen the scope of architectural design and reassess its processes.

AA[n+1] Architecture & Analysis thus decided to kick-off its curatorial activities with the exhibition and screening of the department’s most recent student work. Set up in the organisation’s workspace in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, the event showcased a series of creative experiments, ranging from the sleek and pristine laser-cut object to the busted, glue-dripping tectonic mock-up. Yet, all of them appear to make a compelling case for a widespread use of robotics in architecture and construction. The projects were ambitious and tackled far-reaching technical and technological goals. Most of them were fed from a common yearning for a greater efficiency of the various industrial manufacturing strategies out there. Squeezed between rowdy kebab shops and edgy, counter-culture themed contemporary art galleries, the host venue became for the evening, a place where one could rub shoulders with architects, artists, teachers and geeky tech-heads to casually discuss, over a glass of French wine, coding, algorithms, concrete and resin.

More recently, AA[n+1] Architecture & Analysis held its first masterclass, a one-week workshop that ran as an intensive, highly-focused training opportunity, promoting a progressive exploratory and trandisciplinary agenda. As part of this advanced educational outreach, the participants – young programmers, engineers and designers – had been given the opportunity to witness how collaboration and experimentation are two key inputs to realising innovation. Going back and forth between seminar-like courses and tutorials for a hands-on introduction to computational software of the latest generation and prototyping/manufacturing techniques, the programme was set up to achieve tangible outcomes, in this instance, the production of a composite chair – made of resin and carbon – which shape was calculated/determined by genetic algorithms. Interveners included Philippe Morel, a French architect, theorist and co-founder of EZCT Architecture & Design Research who also holds teaching positions at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais and at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, as well as Achille Lerpinière, polytechnicien and École des Ponts ParisTech-trained architect-engineer.

It is safe to say that the initiators of such a project are paving the way for a new generation of recent graduates of the arts and applied sciences, driven to succeed and longing to instrumentalise their cultural capital by means of knowledge-sharing events, set up on their own initiative.

Photos courtesy of AA[n+1] Architecture & Analysis

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