Labdora (Peter Macapia)

Architect (1966)

Peter Macapia questions the idea of geometry and architectural design in the age of digital procedures on the basis of two themes. The first, which has to do with analytical and generative programming, consists in finding innovative connections between two techniques, that of fluid dynamics (CFD) with its calculus methods based on finite elements (FEA), and that of genetic algorithms which give rise to families of forms which are variable ad infinitum. The second line of research is the issue of the relations which exist between matter and energy, all architecture itself being a form which organizes these relations. In his project Dirty Geometry (2007), Peter Macapia provides the conceptual foundations of his rationalism. According to him, architects are from now on facing a situation in which what is “dirty” is no longer solely the material and visible reality of the world, but a deeper reality. For Macapia, computational geometry must be understood as a “non pure” language in which each one of the component parts perforce “negotiates” with other parameters, such as matter and energy, for example. “This is one of the ways in which geometry becomes dirty: subject to the pressure of matter and forces”. Whence the idea of Dirty Geometry, which contrasts with geometry conceived as a “pure” and ideal formal abstraction to which architecture has clung. So the computational form is no longer autonomous, it is incorporated in something which Peter Macapia describes as an “ecology of techniques”.

With a PhD in Art History (2003, Columbia University), and degrees in philosophy and theology, Peter Macapia founded DORA in 2001 in New York (Design Office for Research and Architecture), an innovative architectural agency oriented towards computational and mathematical research, and known as LABDORA since 2003. Since 2001 he has taught advanced research in engineering and architecture at the Pratt Institute in New York, as well as at Columbia University; he has published many articles and essays dealing with a line of thinking about project design. In his agency, Macapia works with engineers (Ove Arup and Buro Appold, among others) and mathematicians. He has conducted interviews with Toyo Ito and Momoyo Kaijima about architecture, geometry and matter. His research has been shown in many exhibitions (L’architecture au-delà des formes, Marseille, 2007; Seroussi Pavilion, AA School, London, 2007, Maison Rouge, Paris, where, together with EZCT, he won the competition for the Seroussi Pavilion; Scriptedbypurpose, Philadeplphia, 2007; Swarm, New York and Chicago, 2009; Ship of Theseus, London, 2009; Birth of Physics, New York, 2010; Search: _____, New York, 2011.

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