The impact of the “digital” is growing exponentially in architecture, as demonstrated by Greg Lynn’s “BLOBs” and by the NOX “free-forms”. The adjective “free” here indicates the freedom to create architectural form, irrespective of any compositional, structural or construction principle, and has been taken to an extreme in the purely virtual “trans-architecture” of Marcos Novak. In this framework, form-resistant structures such as shells and gridshells are placed in a strategic position. On the one hand, they belong to a form-resistant structural typology – iconic projects by Frei Otto and Jörg Schlaich have always been the result of a creative-generative process that indissolubly welds structure and form. On the other hand, free-forms and BLOBs are forcing the limits of this classical approach, bringing new energy to this research area – the MyZeil shopping centre in Frankfurt is a recent example of this trend.
That’s the background of “How virtual becomes real”, a research-based MSD design studio related to form-resistant structures, where the students are challenged to synthesise the virtual and the real by means of both physical form-finding and numerical/digital technologies.