Conflict and Failing Methods of Architecture

Conflict and failing methods of architecture is the title of my master thesis Architecture at Sint Lucas Academy for Sciences and Arts. The project thematics were Failure and the case was the city of Tirana in Albania, Europe.

My story begins in Tirana, Albania. I was never there and so had to gather all the information about the city, its history and its people through articles on the internet. From the start I knew that my research would stay superficial, but I used this as a strength rather then a weakness. Because I never felt any affinity with Tirana I never felt the need to create something that was directly linked to the location. Tirana and its history could remain a source of inspiration rather then a case for architectural and urban development.

During my research I became inspired by the communist past of Albania. The communist leader Enver Hoxha was convinced Albania had to be protected from the capitalist world. He ordered his people to build military installations all over the land in order to protect it from an enemy invasion. These military installations were mushroom- shaped, concrete bunkers. They build 750000 of them. The enemy never came and the bunkers were never used. This concrete scar marks the land of Albania. During the eighties the communism in Albania fell. What followed was a period of anarchy. The Albanian people were now eager to claim as much property as they could since there was no longer a form of control by the state. During this liberalist revolution the land was again scarred. Today Tirana is a city where architectural translations of collectivism and individualism are mixed together in what is one of the most chaotic cities in the world. I summarized this story of inspiration in 10 postcards, each telling a part of the story.

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I wanted to replicate or simmulate what had happened throughout the history of Tirana. Because I knew I could never make a realistic simmulation, I decided to create a caricature. My first creation was a parametric script made in Grasshopper for Rhinoceros 4.0. It was a script that would gradually randomize a populated grid. But because this script didn’t incorperate iteration it could never be seen as a simmulation. So other then creating a nice virtual model with the push of a button it wasn’t what I was aiming for.

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 In order to simmulate I needed software able to iterate. I started programming in processing for JAVA. Because I wanted to simmulate a competing growing process of 2 conflicting ideologies, I ended up in biomimicry. I searched for mathematical algorithms that would mimic a natural competing growing process. I programmed a fusion of Brownian Motion, Random Walk and Diffusion Limited Aggregation, 3 different biological growing- processes. Together they would simmulate a competing growing process. I then programmed these algorithms to generate geometry as a caricature translation of collectivism and individualism in architecture. It took me 3 months to write, tweak and iterate on the program. But I never really finished it. I constantly came up with new ideas to incorporate into the program, untill one day I decided it was complete enough to start using it for simmulations. I ran dozens of simmulations and they were all evenly inspiring.

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Through the course of my architecure education, my thesis- work, the reading about the history of Tirana and the writing of the program, I learned a lot. I created a personal vision, a manifest about architecture. I decided to communicate my vision as a conclusion of this project but also as an end of this past 5 years of education. I would make a poster campaign. These 40 posters I created, are visualisations of different simmulations I ran using my program. Each poster carries a slogan or writing that says something about my perception of architecture.

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In a world of ideological conflict, architecture, like nature, is a language of war. A struggle for existence. A rebellion of failing ideas, for failing ideas. It is this struggle, this fight or this conflict, that generates the space we architects claim to be designing. Using parametric iterations of mathematical described natural biology mimicking growth algorithms, I was able to create a digital environment. This digital realm was then populated with caricaturised architectural representations of conflicting ideologies. Next the conflict was simmulated over several hours/days. A struggle for existence. A life of architectural control and artistic rebellion. What followed was a digital imaginarium, a manifesto of how I percieve the architectural space. This is my conflict, my struggle for existence. This is my architecture.

download the flyer (dutch)

download the complete project book (english)

download the processing script