Our contribution to a major free exhibition examining recent changes in ten global cities, mounted in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern Gallery, London during the summer of 2007.
In essence, the designs and ‘arguments’ we exhibited constituted a ‘wake-up call’ regarding London’s architectural and urban sensibility – highlighting the city’s status as a growth pole in an accelerating worldwide dynamic. We used the exhibition as a means to share our explorations into the ways in which super-large developments can be approached within an architectural sensibility – deploying form-making and space-making strategies rather than conventional planning tools.
The ability to achieve this shift turns, so we argued, on a series of new and powerful digital design techniques, making possible an approach we termed ‘Parametric Urbanism’ – referencing the planned Thames Gateway project as a potent laboratory through which to explore contemporary forms of urbanism.
Our starting point was to reconstruct the fundamental typological catalogue of architecture and urbanism in terms of field conditions: point-fields of villas, line-fields of towers, plane-fields of slabs and volume fields of urban blocks. With respect to theses four basic types of urban fields we completed a series of parametric variations and differentiations before we enter a matrix game of recombination and interpenetration, leading to mutations of both fields and components.
This process afforded us a repertoire of sufficient richness and complexity to approach urban regeneration projects with multiple simultaneous strategies.