RIBA Silver Medal nomination and Burning Man build

We are pleased to announce that DS10 student Andrei Jipa has been nominated for the RIBA Silver Medal 2014, for the best part II student project in the UK.

Andrei’s futuristic proposal “Solanopolis” blended a radical futuristic vision with an advanced understanding of mathematics and 3D printing technologies to create a 3D printed city whose design sprang directly from the underlying code in fractals, creating stunning architecture which echoes the implicit mathematical beauty found in Baroque architecture.

In order to physically recreate these proposals Andrei pushed the boundaries of 3D printing, rewriting the code sent to the 3D printer, devising and publicly sharing a new way of 3d printing with the world.

This was all set against a fantastically creative post apocalyptic narrative of an entire culture and economy based around growing potatoes and turning potato starch into plastic for an army of large scale 3d printers to keep on building up from the rising waters of a future flooded world.

It was in our opinion a very creative blending of brave ideas backed up by rigorous technical research and real world physical results, and we think he has a great chance of winning this years prestigious prize.

Andrei’s proposal will be featured soon on the RIBA website http://www.presidentsmedals.com/

Farm Section~  004s 001s

But wait, there’s more! On top of that yet another DS10 project, Hayam Temple designed by Josh Haywood, has been built over the Summer by a team including past and present DS10 students and  is currently bringing joy to the revellers at this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada and has been receiving praise all over the place.

The beautiful project inspired by the delicate muqarnas found in Islamic architecture has received great international praise and has been featured across the web…




10608431_532651670195593_877742028231652468_otemple2temple11Me and Arthur are greatly looking forward to yet another year of exciting designs and joyful architecture at Westminster University and very excited about the year ahead 🙂

The Burning Ship Set

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.

Fractal Cult

day view
day view

“Fractal Cult” is an installation consisting of two types of structures that aim to create an intriguing, mesmerising, explorative, playful and interactive experience for visitors of the 2013 Burning Man festival, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

night view
night view

The geometry of the installation is based on the work of Swedish mathematician Niels Fabian Helge von Koch and in particular his invention of the Koch Snowflake, one of the earliest fractal curves to be described. Specifically, the structures are an adaptation of Koch Snowflake’s principles into a three-dimensional environment that essentially starts with a regular tetrahedron and recursively generates new tetrahedrons on each of its faces resulting in a complex, yet simply and efficiently defined, end result.

Fractal progression in 2D and 3D

The installation is consisted by 4 timber-made, fractal pods that symmetrically surround a space frame-like structure of a similar fractal nature and with climbing nets dressing the faces of the geometrical shape that is created.

Timber Pod construction progress
Timber Pod interior photos of 1.5 : 1 model

The timber pods, during daylight, are the first structure that a visitor encounters and both initiate and welcome the exploration of its symmetric but complex structure. Visitors are also able to enter the pods and experience an even more intriguing spectacle of the formation of faces and joints that create a kaleidoscope-like effect. They can also be used as temporary shelters from wind and sun, or even a meditation space. During the night, these timber fractal pods are illuminated from their interior, creating magnificent patterns of lighting that will attract visitors and welcome them to explore the site.

night plan view
night plan view

The imposing, central structure, during daylight, attracts visitors with its fractal nature, yet simple construction, and invites visitors to climb and engage with it with in all sorts of ways. Climbing the exterior and attempting to reach the top or even getting inside the interior and enjoy the complexity that the multiple layers of nets create. Moreover, the structure can definitely be seen as becoming a much more live thing during the festival, with people using the nets to create temporary shelters from the sun by weaving cloth materials or similar, forming a patchwork effect on the structure’s faces. It is difficult to predict exactly the kind of behaviour that visitors will have towards such a structure but more likely than not its lightweight nature, great size and the multifunctional nature of nets will allow for several different scenarios which would be great to observe. During the night, the structure maintains the same use but it is symmetrically lit with stage lights pointing from the ground up that will give the structure an illuminating effect and hopefully attract visitors from far away.

Main structure construction process

Last but not least, the geometry of the structures is strongly spiritually connected to Mekabah, a divine light vehicle allegedly used by ascended masters to connect with and reach those in tune with the higher realms. “Mer” means Light. “Ka” means Spirit. “Ba” means Body. Mer-Ka-Ba means the spirit/body surrounded by counter-rotating fields of light, (wheels within wheels), spirals of energy as in DNA, which transports spirit/body from one dimension to another.


Overall, “Fractal Cult” aims to offer a great variety of fun and explorative options, as well as serving as a place able to transform to temporary shelter or meditation space for visitors, while at the same time impose beauty through its fractal and symmetric nature.

1.5 : 1 Model photo in DS10 studio

From Simplicity to Complexity

In this documentary ‘The Secret Life of Chaos’, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries of science – how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? How does order emerge from disorder?

The Secret Life Of Chaos by jfhack7
(If the embedded video doesn’t appear in the post click the link – Well worth a watch)

The program covers ideas of pattern formation in nature, self organisation, feed back loops, fractal systems, evolution…etc

It reveals the science behind much of beauty and structure in the natural world and its intrinsic part of the laws of physics.

Amazingly, it turns out that the mathematics of chaos can explain how and why the universe creates exquisite order and pattern. The natural world is full of awe-inspiring examples of the way nature transforms simplicity into complexity.