Michael Hansmeyer
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Design by Algorithm

In computational design, the architect no longer develops form using pen and paper or by mouse in a CAD program, but instead defines procedures to generate form. Shifting the design process onto this abstract level has a dramatic impact: Forms can be designed with a complexity and richness that would be impossible to draw by hand. Now these complex forms can be brought out of the computer using additive manufacturing. Bits and bytes can be rendered directly into reality.

The combination of computational design and additive manufacturing can lead to a non-standardized, highly differentiated and spatially complex architecture that is defined at the scale of millimeters.

In the Digital Grotesque project, every detail of the architecture is generated through customized algorithms, without any manual intervention. A simple input form is recursively refined and enriched, culminating in a geometric mesh of 260 million individually specified facets. This single process generates many scales of architecture, from the overall form with its broad curvature, to local surface development, down to minute textures.

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Development of form through recursive division