Author Archives: stratocaster47

This is the very firs experiment I did in DS10, October 2012. Even if I was unable to find an architectural application, i still find the interference colour patterns to be beautiful images, so I’m posting them here, hoping they will inspire someone else.

Thin-film interference occurs when incident light waves reflected by the upper and lower boundaries of a thin film interfere with one another to form a new wave. Check out the wikepedia article:

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Thin Film Interference Pattern

Some sci fi novels you might find inspiring:

Bernal Sphere

Bernal Sphere;

John Desmond Bernal – The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1929)

A space habitat intended for permanent residence; radical changes to human bodies and perception and the implications for society;

Brave New World

Brave New World – Impressions on Reading Aldous Huxley (Album Cover); source:

Aldous HuxleyBrave New World (1931)

Radical social changes due to technological advances. Huxley’s other work is worth checking as well.


Star Maker;

Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker (1937)

It is a masterpiece that AC Clarke, F Herbert, OS Card and other great sci fi writers have quoted as a major influence. Virginia Wolf was a fan as well. I would say architectural references in this book are not very direct, but it is nothing but pure inspiration. A conventional guy has a disembodied visionary experience that takes him across time and space and slowly allows him to merge his consciousness with the Universe. There is a mystical beauty about the way the cosmos is described, sci fi and philosophy at the same time. It has some interesting relevant concepts as well, such as the Dyson sphere – an artificial mega structure entirely surrounding a star in 3D to capture the entire power output.


Scene from Equilibrium directed by Kurt Wimmer; source:

George OrwellNineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Relevant for the issue of surveillance and how it reflects on social life and implicitly, architecture. The descriptions of the ministry buildings are memorable.


Hari Seldon on Trantor; source:

Isaac AsimovFoundation series (1951)

A sci fi classic novel in which Asimov anticipates big data and open source encyclopedias and envisages a science which can use information to predict the future on a large scale. It is interesting from an architectural point of view as Trantor, the capital of the Galactic Empire, is a completely built up planet, covered in its entirety by a continuous mass of metal high-rise buildings and subterranean structures.

scene from Stalker directed by Andrey Tarkovsky; source:

Stanislaw Lem  – Solaris (1961)

Questions alien nature and the issue of communication between alien species. The Russian film by Andrey Tarkovsky is also a masterpiece.

Dick; source:

Philip K Dick  – all his work

Man in the High Castle (1963); Ubik; A Scanner Darkly (1978); Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968); The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) – all have subtle architectural references and address contemporary issues like immigration, mass-media, politics, drugs. Dark paranoid atmosphere throughout.


Dune-inspired render at

Frank Herbert Dune (1965)

Not so much about architecture, but it is a realistic depiction of the layered complexities of a planet: politics, religion, sociology, economy, ecology, technology, etc.


Larry Niven – Ringworld; source:

Larry NivenRingworld (1970)

Larry Niven, in 1970 theorized the Niven Ring – a continuous ring-shaped mega structure that rotates around a star to create artificial gravity force; Architecture at a star-system scale.


Arthur C. Clarke – Rendezvous with Rama (1972)

One of Arthur C. Clarke’s most well-known works, the main architectural interest is on th 50 Km cylindrical alien star ship which has its own geography and cities. Clarke comes from a scientific background and this is reflected in the rigor of his novels. Also check 2001:A Space Odyssey and his work on fractals.

Gheorghe Sasarman

Squaring the Circle; source:

Gheorghe SasarmanSquaring the Circle – A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony (1975)

Written in the style of Calvino’s Invisible Cities.  it is a collection of short stories full of mythical and symbolic references about utopias, politics, geometry and of course, urban design. <Spoiler> Babylon is an egalitarian society where everyone is allowed access to the top of the ziggurat but the steep ramps are greased every day. Rome is a fractal city made by recursively placing forums at the intersection of the cardo and decumanum; tunnel cities, underground, or moving, or towering ones, Atlantis, all linked to a poetic idea about their creation.


Magrathea; by microbot23

Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)

This is a comic series, but it has some unique ideas. My favourite is that Earth and some other planets are artificial mega structures manufactured on Magrathea for some wealthy clients. A planet-building factory! <Spoiler> Earth was originally commissioned as a mega human driven computer to compute the ultimate question about life, the universe and everything. One of the characters, Slartibartfast is a coastal designer and won a prestigious award for the design of the Norwegian fjords.

A picture of the Moon before it was fully constructed; Source:


Serge Brussolo – Territoire de Fievre; source:

 Serge BrussoloTerritoire de Fievre (1983)

Brussolo has an intimidating imagination. Short novels, easy to read, you can also check Les mangeurs de murailles (about a cube-shaped dystopian city), Portrait du diable en chapeau melon (about a labyrinthine prison city), <Spoiler> In Territoire de Fievre people live on a breathing planet and their planet gets ill.


Stephen Baxter – Ring;

Stephen Baxter – Ring (1994)

A mega structure formed of cosmic strings;

Stephen Baxter

Time Ships; source:

Stephen BaxterThe Time Ships (1995)

A sequel to HG Wells’ The Time Machine; It has a few architectural references, but the main one is the Dyson Sphere at the centre of the Solar System built by an advanced civilization;

Vernor Vinge

Rainbows End;

Vernor VingeRainbows End (2006)

It is a critical insight into plausible extensions of technologies available today, seen through the eyes of a man who just recovered from Alzheimers.

Helix Fractal; source: deviantart

Eric BrownHelix (2007)

Galactic-scale mega structure; Depending on the complex relationship between the geometry of the Helix and the stars, various ecosystems form;

My study about a custom G-Code for FDM 3d printing geometries based on a central axis (not necessarily a straight line! – any curve would do). Rather than printing layer by layer horizontal sections that are uneven and inefficient in terms of travel time, the slices are consistent and always perpendicular to the central axes. Moreover the transition between layers – rather than being done from a single point through a vertical motion which is the traditional approach – is a continuous gradual motion upwards, the travel path resembling a spiral, thus improving efficiency.









1. Types of 3D printers (SLA, FDM, SLS and Z-printers)

StereoLithogrAphy (SLA)


The first 3d Printer, built in 1983 by Chuck Hull was using SLA technology to print with a photoplymer.


Layer by layer, a liquid polymer is exposed to light from a low-power laser and hardens locally. It produces very accurate prints, theoretically capable of tolerances within 100 nm (0.0001 mm), smaller than visible light wavelength, because of the capacity of lasers to focus beams of only a few photons in diameter.

Traditionally a very expensive technology using expensive polymers, recently it became affordable through the Formlab Form 1:


Fused deposition modeling (FDM)

A very popular technology developed in the 80s by Scott Crump and widely available today after the expiration of patents when the large Rep-Rap open-source community started to develop affordable machines using this technology.


The material is supplied as a roll of filament (generally ABS or PLA), a hot nozzle melts it, extrudes it and deposes it in layers to build up a 3d model.

Selective laser sintering (SLS) and other variations (DMLS, SHS, SLM, EBM)


Developed in the mid 80s by Carl Deckard in Austin, Texas. Similar to SLA, SLS machines use a more powerful laser to fuse together powdered particles of a variety of materials (plastic, metal, glass, porcelain etc). The advantage of this technology over SLA and FDM is that prints do not require support structures, because of the ability of the powder to support cantilevering layers above.

Plaster-bed printing (PP)

Z-printers were developed in 1995 at MIT use layers of plasters and an ink-jet print-head that uses a binding resin to harden the plaster powder. Because of the possibility of using different colours of resin, the Z-corps are capable of building full-colour models. They are also capable of printing cantilevering structures without support. Plaster 3d prints have a very good resolution but are soft and fragile and need to be glued.

2. Replicating Rapid-prototyper (Rep-Rap)

A Rep-rap is a machine that can be built using only standard off-the-shelf parts (nuts, bolts, stepper motors etc) and parts that it can 3d-print itself (generally joints and connection pieces).


Adrian Bowyer developed the first prototype in 2004 at the University of Bath. Since then, the project grew exponentially, currently having hundreds of family members, versions, updates and spin-offs. The original Darwin used FDM technology and a cartesian movement system, the nozzle moving in the two horizontal axes XY while the print bed moves vertically in Z direction.

To day most rep-raps are FDM machines based on cartesian coordinate systems, the two most advanced branches in the family being the Prusa Mendel (XZ Head; Y Bed), the PrintrBot/Up! (X Head YZ Bed); the MakerBot (Z Head; YZ Bed) and the Ultimaker (XY Head; Z Bed).

Other technologies have been adapted to be used in Rep-Raps, such as the CandyFab, a selective sintering machine that uses a heat source and sugar as raw material:

A reprap SLA machine is also available as a kit for about 600$ from Veloso, only one available as far as I am aware.

Newest trends are in developing rep-rap printers that are non-cartesian and based on different coordinate systems. Check out these cool machines:

A SCARA coordinate system machine:

A POLAR coordinate system machine:

A DELTA coordinate system machine:

Amazing projects are always kickstarted, check this one out for a printer under $100:

3.Be the first to 3d print a house!

Currently in the world there are three working large scale 3d printers aimed at manufacturing buildings:

1. The Italian based D-Shape by Enrico Dini:


And a prototype for Foster’s Moon Base also done with the D-Shape:


2. Kamermaker by DUS:


3. And the Contour Crafting by Behrokh Khoshnevis from the University of Southern California:


Also worth checking the Echoviren by Smith Allen in California:


Softkill’s Protohouse:


Sources:; http://on3dprinting.com;

Arthur C. Clarke’s documentary on Fractals:

A basic set with fractal behaviour is the set of Complex numbers (C):


No matter how much one zooms in or out, the set is self-similar with infinite detail.

The typical fractal sets (Mandelbrot, Julia, Fatou) follow a pattern of 3 infinities: an infinite number of points is run an infinite number of times through a recursive polynomial and it will/will not reach infinity:



To make the step to 3d, the major issue is that the 2d rules cannot be generalized  because there is no corresponding set of numbers for 3d space. 1d space has Real numbers, 2d space has Complex numbers, but there is no 3d equivalent. However, Quaternions (hypercomplex numbers) are a theoretical set of points corresponding to a 4d space. Therefore there are two possible approaches: a) Define a three dimensional set of points in polar coordinates and switch them back to a cartesian coordinates in order to build it in computer space. b) Build a theoretical 4d fractal using hypercomplex numbers and cast its 3d shadow in 3d.Image

Either way, results are similar:Image

Dealing with infinite numbers, infinite iterations and infinite sets of points, computation times become an issue. One way around this is to build ray-traced images estimating distances to a virtual fractal (not physically storing the points of the fractal in memory):ImageImage


The image above is magnified ~3.10e13 times. In other words, presuming the size of the sectional model is 1m, it scaled up to roughly the size of the Solar System.

Building 3d models in computer space is slightly trickier because of the huge number of points involved to define even a limited section of a fractal. The issue is to define an algorithm for the correct order of the points in order to build a mesh. A rather neat solution is to ray-trace consecutive sections through a fractal (ray-tracing involves a Z-buffer anyway) and work from there. Here is an example (a 38,000,000 face-mesh obtained from 1,000 sections):Image

An important tool in exploring 3d fractals is building Julia sets (the only difference is that they use a constant increment at each iteration rather than the initial step):

Software used for my project: Processing, ImageJ FIJI, MeshLab, Netfabb Studio, Jesse’s MandelBulb 3D, Autodesk 3dS Max, Chaos Pro, Adobe Premiere.

The Grasshopper script simulates a random soap bubble cluster starting from 3 soap bubbles of known radii based on Plateau’s Laws. All surfaces in a bubble cluster are spherical, including films dividing two adjacent bubbles.

A list is used to store valid bubbles generated through a Hoopsnake sequence and a number of custom components calculate correct bubble intersection in line with Plateau’s Laws.