Computational design: interview with Arturo Tedeschi

“I do not think it is possible to think of a truly sustainable architecture without the use of algorithmic / parametric design”. This was stated by the architect and computer designer Arturo Tedeschi, who recently designed the installation “beCOMe” in Berlin. We interviewed him

Arturo Tedeschi, Cloudbridge, render
Arturo Tedeschi, Cloudbridge, render

Architect and computer designer, born in 1979, Arturo Tedeschi lives and works in Milan. His work has been published in several international journals and exhibited throughout Europe. As a consultant, he has collaborated with world-renowned brands and offices such as Ross Lovegrove Studio, Zaha Hadid Architects, Adidas, Volkswagen, and has provided services related to algorithmic modeling, complex geometry, digital manufacturing, virtual reality and data-based design. In 2019, he was appointed Italy’s Ambassador for Design by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With him, we discussed the relationship between design and recycling, both with an eye to the current context and to the near future.

Arturo Tedeschi, horizON lampe, Venice, Palazzo Loredan.  Photo by Arturo Tedeschi
Arturo Tedeschi, horizON lampe, Venice, Palazzo Loredan. Photo by Arturo Tedeschi


According to Bruce Mau, Designer and CEO of Massive Change Network, “the successful designer designs for nature that open up privileged possibilitiesto never seen before in historyhumanity. What place does the design-nature combination find in your subject?
For a computer designer, the study of natural processes represents a significant research path for innovation in the field of shape optimization, especially with regard to search for minimum. Generative design is now a consolidated method in the industrial field to create components that can do more with less: from the chassis of a vehicle to the three-dimensional geometry of a valve, to the creation of new materials. But generative design also extends to the intangible territory, such as optimizing layouts for architecture and generally organizing spaces and streams.
A side theme for me is the search for new interfaces that are able to give expressive richness to the search for the smallest and overcome a simplified biomorphic vision of the so-called design avant-garde. Designed by skin interface it is a basic and less explored theme than one could imagine.

Can you give us some examples?
In general, when I think of new forms of relationship with nature, I never imagine a return to a deindustrialized world or to a level of superficial integration between artificial and natural systems. I tend to regard any human activity or expression that over the years has been shown to be in harmony with the environmental context and create opportunities for growth and development as “natural”. According to this interpretation, the combination of design and nature takes on a radically different meaning. In 2020, we worked on the project with a lamp that saw the meeting between 3D printing and the skills of the Murano glaziers. The island of Murano – with its centuries-old history – is an extraordinary example of the inseparable relationship between man and territory. Murano represents one of the most densely populated artisan districts in Europe; if globalization and tourism, on the one hand, risk increasing production rates dangerously (with consequences for the lagoon’s ecosystem), think of new “recipes” for glass (which aim to reduce potentially polluting substances), favor low technology and increase human capital. all design strategies, intended as an activity for the transformation of the environment.

You have a basic role in parametric design, in the so-called “Algorithms-Aided Design” to quote your publication. Thanks to this advanced design method, it is also possible to reduce waste, which optimizes the entire construction process. Are there any projects you have done or studies you are working on where this aspect becomes the main purpose?
We have recently collaborated as external suppliers, to the organizational strategies for a budding carbon-neutral smart city designed for around one million people. Sustainability starts from the human-city relationship, and the distribution of typologies has been optimized to make the features accessible via pedestrian paths. The range of variables involved was not controllable through linear design systems based on experience, intuition, CAD, 3D, spreadsheets. Iterative algorithms, simulations and multi-objective optimizations were the basic tools to achieve specific traffic targets and drastically reduce the use of means of transport (private and public), which activated a good domino effect throughout the system. This method can generate seemingly redundant or constructively demanding architectural elements, but capable of triggering a reduction in cost and overall complexity. It is no longer possible to think in terms of specific and non-systemic optimization using innovative tools within a traditional approach.

Arturo Tedeschi, Bliv.  Photo by Hannes Jahreis
Arturo Tedeschi, Bliv. Photo by Hannes Jahreis


Adidas welcomes the opening of the new Flagship Store in Berlin be, the seventeen meter long 3D-printed suspended installation, made exclusively from recycled plastic. The sculpture, which extends across all floors, symbolizes an active commitment to supporting sustainabilityto also in the industrial field. What were the unconventional approaches to the concept and research of the material?
I believe in the symbolic value of objects and in form as a story, especially for works that do not respond to a rigid functional program. We live in a particularly fortunate period because technology provides the opportunity to create physical objects with the same expressive power as digital art. The installation be symbolizes the urgent obligation to transform plastic waste into resources that undergo various transformation processes; a commitment to be pursued through communication, education and daily actions. The installation is in itself a statement of sustainability that arises from the conversion of recycled plastic into filaments used in the three-dimensional printing process.

And what about the surface design and working method?
Thinking of form as a narrative tool means, first and foremost, approaching technology in a secular, unconventional way, escaping the celebration of technique and material. 3D printing is a relatively young manufacturing process, but characterized by a strong “ritual”, of rules and taboos, and is often associated with a rigid aesthetic. On the contrary, in be, the narrative flow becomes dense matter and gravitates around the idea of ​​transforming plastic materials and how they can become a value in a circular process. To achieve this goal, the three-dimensional modeling was hybridized with virtual reality and digital animation software, within which we animated – and then froze – a dynamic morphing that describes the material transition from plastic waste to filament passing through the intermediate state. of particles and liquid matter. If complex details and thousands of particles are readily manageable in the digital world, the relative transition to real objects required the development of dozens of lines of code to control the nozzles that went far beyond the usual problem solving related to shocks, minimum thicknesses and supports . The representation of three-dimensional components through the use of voxels (volumetric pixels) also played a central role, simplifying the procedures for digitally merging thousands of 3D objects into a single geometric unit.

Arturo Tedeschi, BECOME, 3D model.  Photo by Hannes Jahreis
Arturo Tedeschi, BECOME, 3D model. Photo by Hannes Jahreis


You think parametric design remainsto a niche sector, intended only for technicians, or that companies will invest more to adapt this type of approach to widespread architecture and everyday objects?
As indirectly mentioned, I do not think it is possible to think of a truly sustainable architecture without the use of algorithmic / parametric design. Today, sustainability is virtually codified (and will increasingly be) within the life cycle of products and components, but it is not enough. A facade system can be high-performance and green if the components’ technical data sheet is assessed, but it can paradoxically be inefficient or redundant if the building’s products, shape and layout are not perceived as three-dimensional parts of a complex. puzzles that, for obvious reasons, are not manageable with traditional prediction tools.

For users and consumers, it is becoming increasingly important that products originate from or are assembled in processes with low environmental impact. At the same time, in architecture it is no longer possible to do without the technological aspect. Against what horizon do you want the entire creative sector of the future aimed at?
Attention to the environment, a symbiotic relationship with technology and a search for authenticity are all characteristics of the post-millennium generation. My hope is that the creative sector does not underestimate the intangible and psychological aspects of design, on any scale.
The theme of sustainability cannot be limited to the study of low-impact materials and processes to be used in common typologies, but to place the human being at the center. We live in an era that requires a profound rethinking of spaces and their psychological impact. The home, the office, the public spaces are changing. For decades, visionary space ideas have been optimistically developed into what we called “teleworking” at the time. Now that it’s called smart work, and it’s a reality with a different taste, there is an urgent need to imagine new conditions for promoting closeness and social interaction in a world that is moving towards the overlay of real and virtual.

Nicola Violano

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