# THE FUNAMBULIST PAPERS 12 /// Motion Architecture: Breakfast in a Scramjet’s Combustion Chamber by Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu

Natures 3B by Quayola

This week’s writer for the guest writers essays series is Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu who just graduated from the Architectural Association and wanted to share with us his take on Architecture and Motion. Oliviu starts his essay, Motion Architecture: Breakfast in a Scramjet’s Combustion Chamber with an analysis of how animation are too often considered by architects as a mere additional tool of representation when it could actually be considered as a catalyst to the design. He experimented himself this process by mixing narrative and trajectories for his beautiful thesis project  gravityONE (tutored by Liam Young and Kate Davis) that I published few months ago.

Further of these first observations, Oliviu concludes his text by addressing the fact that the notion of home nowadays is somehow a pleonasm and he proposes a new interpretation of it:

Home became a motion pattern, driven by the rhythm of our existence. The sailor gets seasick when he steps ashore just as we get seasick when on a boat. Travel too far and suffer from jetlag. We are conditioned by the rhythm of our life.

The Funambulist Papers 12 /// Motion Architecture: Breakfast in a Scramjet’s Combustion Chamber

by Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu

Analysing Eadweard Muybridge’s work and Vladimir Veličković’s painted motion studies would offer a too easy way to find a relationship between the still objects of architecture and the dynamics of motion.

Jean-Luc Godard is also waiting to be taken apart from this perspective, just as is Bruno Zevi’s idea of archiving space through cinematographic methods. Rem Koolhaas is known for his transition from film to architecture.

Why is there such a brotherhood between film and architecture?

Maybe it is because they share the common idea of assembling building blocks in order to build something that is more than just the sum of its elements.

The concept to be proposed has little to do with these remarkable people and their studies, but builds upon their experience. What I am interested in is not the cinematographic expression but a fourth dimension added by motion in graphics and how movement can further an architectural product.

Motion graphics and animation have commonly found their way in architecture more as a means to display concepts, as animated diagrams… in short, as simple extensions of pen and paper, not as a means to create themselves architectural expression.

Yet animation has so much to offer in terms of storytelling, editing, spacial representation. It might use a similar language to that of the film, but it is compelling in a different way and has a good chance of becoming space by itself. Animation can be used as an architectural process, a carrier of arguments, a research tool or a method of interrogation.

By the melange of animated moving images, of graphical elements that unfold in time, of tiny little elements, each with its own dynamic and relation to the others a new way of space interrogation is created. We can already imagine a dizzying experience. One might start feel just like an a disorientating space.

This feeling is very much like the essence of our centrifugal times. Contemporaneity is characterized by total and constant motion. Our lifes are flashe⚡⚡s of fast changing social movements and over accelerated technological developments. We end up discovering that not only is the universe expanding, but also that its expansion is accelerating. How now is this?

In this context, architecture must adapt itself. And animation provides the tools to do just that.

The present has always been about adaptation, now has always been about dealing with the then. “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present.” – Sounds familiar, does it? Well, A. Lincoln said it in 1862…

Motion is a tool to bridge the then and now. But first…

In the creative process, we start with a bi-dimensional drawing, while exploring the infinite possibilities the promise of our ideas might hold. The desire to explore leads us to adding the third dimension so we can dive deep into our creative imagination. Modeling and rendering became tools to help us add that perceptible and representational dimension. Volume makes the drawings seem real. At this stage, the representation reveals new relations between its elements. But still, it lacks development on the time axis.

Working on computers has already enabled us to travel through time. We are so used to undo and redo that we miss this obvious feature in our real lives. This process of virtual time travel is of huge value while we explore our creative selves and create tangible representations of it. The abstract world of contemporary creation is one of file versioning, time machines, screen captures and literally turning out work upside down. By this process we start baking time.

Volume adds perspective, but it is time that adds context to it. And this is where motion starts playing the lead part. Our arsenal of tools is greatly enriched by the use of Keyframes.

The 4th dimension: video, film, animation or motion-graphics, becomes a specific way of mapping our studies of time travel through our drawings. It is the one precise tool for navigating through the unseen, manipulating and operating the invisible. This invisible world is where acceleration nests, making motion studies our only tool of mapping it.

Even in our visible world, we are in perpetual motion and can witness the constant interaction with the environment from nano to cosmic scale. We now have the knowledge of observing this surrounding environment interacting with itself on different, constantly changing layers. We can try traveling slow or fast in order to perceive the same space in many ways.

To analyze all these complex dynamic relations we froze time to gather observations and measure parameters, as if that one moment in time would ever repeat itself exactly the same way. We naively believed that and resting on the shoulders of highly developed digital processing power we can gather more and more parameters and analyze and compare them over and over again… and get a different result than the eye-catching dystopian outcome where machines speak by themselves.

We have created a technological orgy where we can record dynamic and live sensorial parameters and RSS feeds have become socio-political sensors. In the mean time, we are past the phase of analyzing these parameters’ behavior in motion.

From this popcorn accompanied visual delirium, something remarkable has emerged: a motion based interrogation process. A romantic tool with a chaotic open structure that lacks methodology and encourages perception and intuition as investigation tools of time, motion and space.

The resulting expression is rather poetic. Intuition, due to its multiple and simultaneous synaptic connections could be seen as an infinite multicore processor that generates unlimited artistic methods of emotional expression. It is an open process with exquisite biological power that could handle the nature that it is part of.

Motion graphics, animation and such will always bring our intuition as a tool to life. Whatever expression we convey by live feeds, we receive an immediate sensorial feedback.

A moving piece of work gives us the opportunity to interrogate, operate or respond in real time, in synchronicity with the surrounding rhythms and conditions.

Animation in architecture should not be just a conveyor belt for other media and forms of expression. Motion offers a limitless method of questioning space and time, and to explore the emotions these can activate. It is a way to ask the same question again and not finding the same answer; a tool which opens the opportunity of lighting up the invisible world where acceleration nests…

The world where this forth dimension is added to architecture can be encompassed in the circle defined by motion and space. We can choose to explore at extreme speed or at no speed. Flying an airplane can be a method of choreographing motion and sketching in space and time, just like standing still is a method of observing time. Both extremes look at the same world from different perspectives.

The linear predictable scenarios and design methodologies are pushed aside in favor of a pointcloud like method of interrogating the spatial characteristics.

We have interactive movies, games and multitouch technologies as methods of experiencing multiple scenarios. Shaped the social typology, space design is being pushed towards a more dynamic contextual adaptation. Space now becomes temporary and has an adaptive nature.

Motion is the element to help architecture bring the needed dynamics into the spaces of now. Spaces built for motion. Spaces for people whose concept of home has changed a lot in recent times. People who have lost the attachment to “the place called home”. A place we can relate to, a fixed point in time and space. A place that does not change. But all the knowledge, all the science that surrounds us makes us less and less believers in this fixed point.

 Yet, what is it that people relate to? What is their “new fixed point” now that they don’t have a fixed point to relate to… It might just be the motion vectors of our lives.

The technological, cultural and social acceleration is becoming THE reference point. One could say movement is the new fixed point.

These concepts could be embedded into architecture itself, into space and living spaces design: Let us imagine a cradle that sets the pace for everything in our home. Seasons would influence the colors of our living environment… all having rhythm as a central reference.

Home became a motion pattern, driven by the rhythm of our existence. The sailor gets seasick when he steps ashore just as we get seasick when on a boat. Travel too far and suffer from jetlag. We are conditioned by the rhythm of our life.

Drawing means “leaving a trace”. One must be aware of the rhythms and translate them intuitively into motion architecture. We, as architects of tomorrow, cannot ignore the dynamic cycles that surround us. And we have the tools and knowledge to respond with. We should be jet pilots and racing drivers rolling through the surroundings.

4 Comments on “# THE FUNAMBULIST PAPERS 12 /// Motion Architecture: Breakfast in a Scramjet’s Combustion Chamber by Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu

  1. The 1990’s were spent using animation as an architectural design tool. Motion and time based tools are still used in many computational processes (not to mention practices that base their whole approach the morphodynamic and morphogenetic). Gregg Lynn was famous for his experiments at Columbia with animation. There as common problem with animation techniques that always posed the question “when do you stop the animation” and freeze it into a building. This then led to fitness techniques and more contemporary tools involving evolutionary designs and parametric tools.

    Now maybe I am wrong and the author is aware of these experiments with animation in architecture but then you have to mention them.

  2. In response to the previous comment, i think that Oliviu is trying to suggest a deliberate move away from the notion of architecture as building/object, and rather the film itself as space and final product. Thus eliminating animation’s function as a form generating tool (ie Gregg Lynn) and merely a vehicle for design, but using it to provoke and question our senses and perceptions.

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