[ Emergent architect ] Batwing

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Emergent architect _ Batwing

 

Batwing is part of a larger body of work concerned with creating coherent relationships between building systems through geometric and atmospheric means. The aim is to move toward a higher-order emergent wholeness in architecture while still maintaining a performative discreetness of systems.

 

The project can be understood as an articulated manifold which incorporates structural, mechanical, envelope, and lighting system behaviors. This is not to say that any one of these systems is ‘optimized’ in terms of any functional category-- the formal and ambient spatial effects of fluidity, translucency, glow, and silhouette are all as important for the overall effect of the piece. The intent is to establish a link between the sensate realm and infrastructural flows in architecture.

 

This is different than simply expressing structure or expressing building technology, making it legible. Batwing is not the inside-out Centre Pompidou, which represents more than it performs, and remains a difference in degree rather than a difference in kind. Translation (a difference in degree) of the ductwork to the exterior doesn’t produce transformation of the system, or any unexpected or crossover effects.

 

Now, consider co-evolutionary transformation of the bloodcomb jellyfish, found in mid-water ocean depths. The bloodcomb appears to be a single organism but it is in fact two co-evolved organisms: the jelly and a community of bioluminescent bacteria. The bacteria live in the ‘paddles’ of the jelly where they thrive, providing a kaleidoscopic lighting mechanism as they move. This effect makes the jelly invisible to its deep-water predators, which cannot distinguish that emergent pattern from sunlight bouncing off the surface of the water above. The two species are distinct but interwoven in such a way that they cannot be unwound, and their combination produces sophistication not possible through a single evolutionary trajectory.

 

The design sensibility of Batwing is driven by two types of surface transformation: the pleat and the becoming-armature. Pleats operate in terms of providing structural rigidity and directed airflow across the surface while also creating a seductive ornamental patterning. The armature transforms the envelope system into a duct system which provides supply air as well as structural continuity between envelope components. Deep pleats become ‘air diffusers’, featuring an embedded cooling meshwork of micro-capillaries used for cooling or heating of passing air. Based on the principle of water-to-air heat exchange, this cooling system heats or cools through local radiative transfer rather than relying on ‘central air’.

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