Michael Hansmeyer

Architect (1973)

The German architect, teacher and programmer Michael Hansmeyer (b. 1973) practises an experimental approach to architecture that places digital technology at the core of the creative and building process. A graduate of Columbia University and INSEAD (Fontainebleau), he has notably worked for Herzog & de Meuron and conducts his research within the architecture department CAAD (Computer Aided Architectural Design) at ETH Zurich. A constant permeates the whole of his design method: the desire to explore the generative and constructive potential of digital tools for architectural purposes. He has notably developed a biomimetic approach to architecture based on processes of cellular subdivision, whose complexity stems from the computer simulation of living organisms. The algorithms he relies on – including the L-System – enable him to transfer these morphogenetic procedures to 3D structures. Far from any imitative approach of forms issued from nature (biomorphism), Hansmeyer pursues a specific mimesis that consists in conceiving protocols rather than forms. An important place is left to chance and indeterminacy, leading the architect to define himself first of all as an ‘orchestra conductor’ and not as one who controls the whole project. Of quite extraordinary complexity, the results obtained reveal a specific digital ornamentation that could not be produced using the traditional methods and tools of conception and design. The repetition of the process, as well as the parameterization of the data, make it possible to obtain details of such extreme precision that they are invisible to the human eye. The production is all the more surprising since the operating principles used are simple and the gap is shrinking between their projection and their realisation thanks to digital production tools (3D printing, digital machining, laser cut-out and such). Exhibited in 2011 at the Smallspace gallery in Berlin and at the Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea, his projects and realisations reveal a baroque dimension in view of which the ornament follows directly from the computer process of conception, modelling and fabrication.

Sophie Fétro


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