This short video was produced as part of the design process – not just for fun.  The purpose was to explore metaballs, the geometry that was decided on during the previous phase of the project.  This video represents a catalogue of the various creative solutions that are possible with this mathematical form, and how rewarding it can be to watch them expand, mutate and rearrange.

Last semester this project addressed the questions of what the architecture of a hedonist society could offer, and how could it be quantified.  The idea was to extend Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s concept of hedonistic calculus with the parameters of sun vs. shade, space vs. proximity and exclusivity vs. inclusivity.  The architecture would adapt to individual requests for each, in realtime.


With that as a starting point, the next logical step was to develop a more thorough understanding of pleasure and hedonism.  The investigation and subsequent conclusions are below:

HM_pleasue curves

Every action that gives us pleasure can be represented by a simple curve on a graph.  The levels of pleasure are on the Y-axis and time is on the X-axis.  What we see is that the levels of pleasure rise, reach a peak, and eventually decline.  The amplitude (or intensity) may vary, and so can the duration of the event.  Sometimes, when the peak happens very quickly, it can result in a steep decline and lowered levels of satisfaction- for example while eating junk food.  At other times, there may be a long build up to the peak with no crash, leaving us with an enduring sense of satisfaction, for example after leaving an intimate party with good friends and good conversation.


The next question that a society of insatiable pleasure seekers would ask is how can our pleasure be greater and last longer?  An analysis of many pleasurable activities concluded that they all have qualities that can be accurately described by one spectrum or another.  Two useful spectra referred to here are social vs. private and exposed vs. sheltered.  However, much like standing in a room surrounded by mirrors, these two spectra are but two of an infinite number of definitions, and each place you look exposes a different angle of an object.  These umbrella categories are defined as “in-ness” and “out-ness”, and they refer to the dichotomous relationships that are present in all our actions.


After mapping enough activities across these spectra, a pattern emerged.  Often the most pleasurable activities are the ones that have two forces in opposition.  If privacy can be considered “in-ness” and exposure is “out-ness”, then when these two states combine (as in exhibitionism, for example) then it’s like drawing a bow and arrow.  There is a tension created – a synthetic risk that leads to heightened feelings of pleasure.  Another state that can lead to heightened sensations of pleasure is when the activity requires a delicate balance of both private vs. social and shelter vs. exposure – like being on a first date, for example.  The implication here is that by thoughtful design this tension could be leveraged to increase an individual’s pleasure.

In the following movie, these conclusions are visualised in the very different reality of a hedonist society inhabiting Barcelona 100 years in the future. The situations shown here attempt to provide a clear contrast between what happens inside and outside, and how the relationships between these pseudo states can be modulated by a flexible metaball architecture.

To develop a complete understanding of the project it is necessary to understand the logics involved in the technical resolution.  The first step was to divide our site at the Barcelona Port into zones.  This was achieved using metaballs of varying thresholds to define overlapping regions of influence.  These regions were populated according to specific parameters for each one, depending on the density of use and intended geometric permutation for each zone.  The points were used to construct a 2-dimensional Voronoi grid.  Although Voronoi cells may not be the organisational grid of the future, they could be a candidate because of the minimal packing of the geometry.


Next, start points and end points for the centres of each metaball are distributed onto the grid, with factors applied to modulate the theoretical densities of use according to time and intent.  These points are made to travel along the grid using the shortest route possible.  Then the grid is pushed up into 3-dimensions using the local densities around each intersection as a parameter, combined with a unique factor for each zone.  Finally, the metaballs are given flesh with radii determined using another zone factor.  The resulting urban amalgamation seen here has a clear set of logics governing it, just like any emergent reality we expect to see in the future.

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