[re]Forum in Berlin

Master's Thesis - Savannah College of Art and Design

The aim of this thesis is to address the disconnect between the current generation and the modern identity of Berlin, Germany. Concentrating on the contemporary focus of technology and automation, computational design is the driving force behind the redesign of an existing public forum in the central Mitte district of Berlin. The material culture of Berlin and the importance of musical associations throughout the city and its importance to the existing urban culture provides the data necessary for algorithmic form generation. Using the idea of layering, multiple tiers of music influence the formation of the structure; Time Period, Pop Culture, and the Berlin Aesthetic. These extracted data values each affect separate functions of the algorithm, therefore generating an exclusive framework. Growing above the existing statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, one of the competing monuments of the city, there is no attempt to conceal history, but rather to allow for different perspectives on the past, while remaining grounded in the present. Through computational design, under the influence of culturally significant music, Marx-Engels Forum is transformed into an embodiment of history as a physical manifestation of the city culture through the Berlin Aesthetic.

The Computational Process & Morphology
The process behind the algorithmic driven design for this project is based upon the relationship and interactions between world coordinate locations and audio spectrum data. The surrounding music venues and nightclubs determine the location parameters of the algorithm, representative of current Berlin culture. Initially, the spectrum data to be analyzed and interpreted was the song "When I See You Smile" performed by the band Bad English, which was the number one rated song on November 9, 1989, the day that the Berlin Wall Fell. The spectrum from this audio file was plotted to extract the decibel and frequency values, which were then used to control the trajectories of flocking swarm agents which are emitted from the locations of music venues and nightclubs. Once the paths of the agents hit the extents of the site, isosurface geometry is then formed around the trails of the swarm agents, generating a unique form influenced from the music data.
As the project progressed, the process evolved into a more complex algorithmic design process incorporating more than one song and dataset into a layering of music, each separately representing an exclusive tier of Berlin urban culture. The chosen tiers are: Time Period, Pop Culture and the Berlin Aesthetic, whose songs are:
When I See You Smile - Bad English (Time Period)
Heroes - David Bowie (Pop Culture)
Boarding Time - Sizarr (Berlin Aesthetic)
The data from the spectrum plot of each song now each controls different attributes of the swarm agents flight patterns independently from each other. Those attributes each being separately controlled are particle speed, particle acceleration and particle mass. With each of these attributes being controlled by a different song, the generated form is much more interesting on an aesthetic level in addition to a more defined theoretical framework. A highly varied aged copper paneling system was also incorporated into a layered framing and paneling system, algorithmically driven to manifest the grungy berlin aesthetic that is representative of the material culture Berlin has adopted.
The program of the site and the generated structure is also highly varied and loosely defined to allow the inhabitants to choose how to inhabit the space, while still remaining representative of a typical public forum found in most cities throughout Europe. The existing centered circular plaza of Marx-Engels Forum is transformed and sunk into the ground and replaced with structurally reinforced glass, moving the existing monuments back to the center, with the addition of a nightclub underneath allowing a new perspective of the past, with the future towering overhead.
Simulation & Panelization
Thesis Exhibition at Eichberg Hall - Savannah Georgia
© 2021 Nicholas Place
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