Talk Manfred Wolff-Plottegg:  


the presentation will show examples of  my  Architecture Generators and how I made them by analogue as well as digital algorithms.

Since I started studying architecture the question that occupied me mostly was:
            how do lines get on the paper
            how do buildings appear on the field

and that's why I dealt with questions of methodology, production conditions, background influences, rules, patterns of behavior etc.,
more or less with algorithms as we would say today

One key insight I found in Fractal Geometry, this is the famous Sierpinsky triangle

W. Sierpinski 1916: Fractal Geometry

On top …… you see    3 starting elements
The generating algorithm is:  insert 3 small elements into the starting element …. and do again and again
Simpl linear dialect

The script is generating and self-similarity arises
and this self-similarity makes clear:

the starting element is not important, the algorithm determines the result

self-similarity is like a bubble
you cannot leave it without changing the algorithm

only if you change the algorithm you get different results


And this is important:
if you want to make something new ….. something different from the mainstream 

By the way ..... a small side remark: this is also the explanation why political parties are increasingly losing their difference.
the input of programmatic ideologies red green blue is overruled by the dominant rules
of public media, market pressures, international laws etc.

these algorithms are stronger than ideologic inputs
algorithmic selfsimilarity is a universal principle.


back to fractal geometry:


H.v Koch 1904: snowflake / coastline

In this case the starting element is again a triangle
but the generating algorithm is:  add 3 small elements outside …. and continue and do again and again

This is the snowflake ….. coastline by Koch 1904


What I learned from fractal geometry in short is:

if you want a new and different result, you must change the algorithm
and that applies equally to the analog and the digital



I present some examples of my own production
back to the question: ......  how do lines get on the paper 

The usual way is: you start with an idea in the brain, then giving a signal to the hand, to the pencil ….
and the output should be the desired line

and if the line is not what you desired, you have to take an eraser, and erase,
and then take the pencil again and make a new line
…………… which in most cases shows again self-similarity


for this problem …… one of my inventions was: the Drawingerasor
a tool for making drawings …. generating drawings
an early analogue example …… I changed the way of drawing


I buried the lead of a pencil in an eraser

…….when used to erase.......it produced a scribble
this is generating a drawing ….. automatically making new lines, ..... even without thinking

the simple mechanical substitution replaced linear thinking with non-linear accidentalism

this demonstrates again:
if you change the algorithm you receive automatically new results,
in most cases something unexpected
and you get it quickly ..... instant and free

this is not only designing a line ..... but designing a tool, a method for designing lines ..... this is the shift into the second order

 another remark: the result, the creation is not anthropomorphic anymore ..... it stems from exterior procedures
                            this is similar to the development in art from expressionism ..... to actionism




Trautenfels castle / door 1988

Another change of an algorithm ……. still analogue

In 1988 renovated and revitalized Trautenfels, an imposing baroque castl.
A new outside door was necessary for better circulation of the big amount of visitors


Trautenfels Castle

The question was: ..... how can a new door look like?
again my basic approach was: ..... “I do not design, I just change rules”

And I found out ..... the existing usual rule of doors is
1.   A door is a flat element
2.   The turning axis of doors is vertical
3.   An open door is uselesss
            And for getting a new door ..... I only changed these rules:

I said:
1.   the doors are three-dimensional bodies
2.   the axis is moved in a different place ….. is horizontal instead of vertical
3.   and the open doors become a function    in this case  …. a stairway to nowhere










           ground plan / horizontal plan



I consequently formulated another rule, which was:
                in a different place ..... in a different use

so specifically not as usual
                “the right thing          in the right place        at the right time”
                   in a different place              in a different use

which is a basic rule for hybrids
which I then applied in many other projects
just two examples out of many

 in a different place..... in a different use

Ironing-Board Chandelier



                           Toilet Chandelier


In this sense: you can change      or      set up any rule
and then see what comes out of it



Trautenfels Script for a movie


TRAUTENFELS as seen from its building components


After the renovation was done, I made a video documentation of my architectonic interventions
usually the camera guidance is either static
            John Wayne rides left to right
or the camera follows Belmondo and Deneuve walking

and to show a building in a video, you approach it from outside, go in, go up the stairs, look around inside, looking out ....
             it is always an anthropocentric view…… like with a helmet camera

 I changed this rule: ..... my script said:
            Fix the camera on moving parts of the building

For example on the toilet door: (In 1993 we did not yet have small digital cameras)

I changed the rules ..... and was amazed at what came out of it
The video shows what the building parts see all day long:























Neuronal Architecture Generator 1999

this was a 100 % digital development
beyond interactivity, completely computer generated
The process is shifted from personal brain to external procedures

The advantage is: external procedures are easier to change than personal behavior and attitudes


neurons firing spikes 




spike train >>> bit string 


A spike is the signal from one neuron to another, and a spike train is a sequence of zeros and ones firing in the brain
and these spike trains are obviously same endless sequences of zeros and ones as in a bit string in the computer

in a computer-aided design software ..... like Autocad Archicad Rhino etc ..... there is a list of many many commands.
        line, polyline 3D line square circle cube wedge ……..
and commands like
        move, rotate, scale, delete, copy            and so on …..
        selection of color, selection of thickness etc

The concept of the generator is a LISP program .....  a list processing script
which chooses from the offered commands on basis of a bit string     of zeros and ones



99265.jpg (130472 Byte)99266.jpg (158045 Byte)99267.jpg (121500 Byte)99268.jpg (157138 Byte)

stills show what has been selected by zeros and ones



Neuronal Architecture Generator











this generator was running at ZKM in Karlsruhe for more than 10 years, permantly producing new elements.
Somehow it is phantastic what can be generated by a random sequence of zero and ones

By the way ..... in this is somehow related to Mozart opus KV 516f
                         his Instruction how to compose a waltz with 2 dices
he used numbers from two to twelve ..... whereas I used 0100110110












Hyper Hybrid Generator Second Life Platform, 2008







The Hyper Hybrid Generator was a script for Second life platform:

we have created a collection of ready-made construction components
such as wall panels, platforms, pillars, stairs, girders etc

In our program, we dropped these building pieces randomly, controlled by a gravity engine












The script continuously generated new configurations, a heap of new architecture ..... equally generating randomly by zeros and ones
This is deconstruction …… not because it looks oblique …… but because all traditional rules of architecture like
        form follows function or
        like the trinity of Form Construction Function
are abandoned

for example: usually corridor / staircase / elevator are a unit, here they are dislocated


At the BIACS (Bienale de Sevilla 2008) we presented the Hyper Hybrid Generator as interactive installation

the visitor in the exhibition could additionally control the second life island.
On the screen you see the hyper hybrid generator running

 08300b.jpg (358733 Byte)


But in front was a 5-fold representation of one fact .....
5 different appearances are present simultanously

1.    the visitor IRL
2.    his shadow
3.    his twin as avatar
4.    the video tracing him
5.    the script and the bitstring of the visitors data

this proofs that IRL reality and virtuality are the same












Web of Life
ZKM 2002


One more example to finish: The big Web Of Life Installation at the ZKM

Jeffrey Shaw was the mastermind, he asked me to contribute the architecture for the installation.

         additionally some remarks on the architectural concept ..... .of real life architecture and virtuality

 The general definition of virtuality is …… Visible …. not tangible

And as in the WOL presentation everything was virtual  .... very strongly visual ….. I did not want to compete..... and reduced architecture,

        I made architecture disappear
        I inverted architecture            as present & tangible            but not visible

Therefore my architectural installation was something like a black potato, in a black background, completely formless, without shape, like a black hole

        I inverted virtual reality   into    real virtualities

        I repeated the inside virtual projections of the web by a real life / hard ware mesh of  wires outside, which were black again and invisible, but tangible.
        (and this caused serious problems as visitors didn't see them and ran in.... so I had to replace them and use visible white rubber cords)

So finally the beautiful inverted virtual reality was back in real life reality.










Merci de votre attention

You can see more generative architecture on my homepage