Winners of the Laka Competition ’18: Architecture that Reacts

Architecture that Reacts

Over 130 entries prepared by nearly 200 participants from more than 30 countries were given thorough consideration by the international panel of Judges. 3 main prizes, 3 special recognitions, and 14 honorable mentions have been selected.

1st Prize: Tidal Terrains by Mary Denman (USA)
The site chosen for the project is the Thames River in the City of London. The proposal incorporates programs such as swimming, the agricultural farming of algae, restaurants and boulevards into a floating park typology which embraces water and encourages access to make it once again a sociable, livable part of the city. Within these programs, the landscape integrates a cycle in which algae, wastewater and atmospheric CO2 is converted to energy, food products and clean water. As such, this means that the dirty water of the Thames River becomes an asset to produce energy, rather than a commodity to be expensively processed.

Architecture that Reacts
Image © Mary Denman

Notions such as fluidity, buoyancy and constant change in relation to the seven meter tidal height difference of the river are the central driving principles behind the design. Using buoyant concrete elements supported by a series of underwater pistons, parts of the landscape are able to float up or down in neutral buoyant positions with the river height or artificially close certain air valves to fix them at alternative heights to accommodate different programs or more optimal outdoor comfort conditions such as shielding the users from wind or too much sunlight radiation.

2nd Prize: Embodied Homeostasis by David Stieler (Austria)
Today, we live in a world of ubiquitous computation. Advancements in information technology and sensing objects have fundamentally disrupted the way not only digital space is perceived, but also altered the way social interaction is organized in our built environment. This proposal challenges the notion of the human hegemony on design. In this case the design of the machine itself was very specific, the formal architectural outcome on the macro level nevertheless was open.

Architecture that Reacts
Image © David Stieler

We also put forward the idea of animate matter, within the classical idea of architecture the ground is reserved for action and the elevation for perception. By perceiving matter as a fluid component within an ongoing design procedure this understanding is reversed. There is no longer a distinction between form and deformation. The focus shifts from making meaning to making sense, and even more towards dealing with senses. Within this interspecific and reactive design procedure lies a very sensous and bodily quality for each participant within the process of networked matter.

3rd Prize: The Platform of Motion by Nusrat Jahan Mim, Arman Salemi (USA)
The Platform of Motion is a speculative design for Amazon distribution center at Brooklyn (3rd st 3rd ave), NY, USA. This is an architectural experimentation of looking at the future of amazon’s logistics center as an urban interface right at the moment when Amazon has the initiative to buy the Whole Foods Market and is planning to step in the online grocery services. To keep pace with the demands of “quick online deliveries”, physical spaces of existing logistics centers are being re-designed. We have designed a platform, where fast automated movements (P-Bots) of distribution center meet slow activities of an informal market (IM Pods), get interrupted, and ultimately slow down.

Architecture that Reacts
Image © Nusrat Jahan Mim and Arman Salemi

We have two different types of structures with two different formal expression- towers, for storage and other activities of distribution center, and IM pods, for informal market activities. While the towers represent the extremely organized, programmed, rigid, and regular activity pattern of the distribution center, the IM pods, with their playful form and irregular pattern of movement (according to “human” functional necessity) create a sense of conflict in the spatial domain of the platform. Our objective was not to design a 100% efficient distribution center. Rather we followed a critical design approach to develop a system, where fast and slow movements can co-exist and directly impact each other in a spatio-temporal framework. Source and images Courtesy of Laka.

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