Model Instruction: Crafting the Prototype

This was the topic of the lecture held on Wednesday 5 April for Interni by twins Christopher and William Sharples, founders of ShoP, one of the main architecture firms in New York.

The two architects, who are participating in partnership with NBK Keramik and Metalsigma with Wave/Cave in the Interni Material Immaterial Exhibition-Event in the courtyard of the Università Statale, have accrued extraordinary experience, ranging from extremely innovative microprojects to enormously complex works, such as the new skyscraper on 57th street in Manhattan, which in 2018 will be one of the tallest buildings in New York.

It was many years ago, we were visiting in Washington an exhibition on the models built by the great architects of Italian Renaissance, and we understood the significance of working in three dimensions from the very early stages of the project”, said William Sharples opening his lecture. This approach has developed over the years, using increasingly sophisticated rendering technologies at the concept and implementation stages.

This has led to surprising solutions: from the wooden structure installed in 2000 in the PS1 offices in Long Island, whose model on a smaller scale has been exhibited since 2006 at MoMa, Ney York; to the future-oriented entrance of the Barclays Center in Brooklin (2012), built in an almost “tailor-made” fashion, by putting together 12,000 different panels; to Flotsam & Jetsam in Miami, a social site whose structures in innovative materials (carbon fibre, bamboo) were literally “printed” by robot systems.

Also when conceiving our new skyscraper in Manhattan, modelling helped us study solutions that, in terms of quality and design, were in harmony with the surrounding historical buildings. This is why terracotta will be one of the materials selected for the façade, the same material used in the Wave/Cave installation presented in Milan.

From micro- to macro-projects, so the Sharples brothers, 3D technology combined with a new craft approach can generate something which is absolutely new. And this gives architects the opportunity to play a wider role, and to be in charge of conceiving and implementing their projects. After all, was not this the lesson of the great masters of the past, from Brunelleschi to Leon Battista Alberti?

(Text by Laura Ragazzola – Photos by Ludovica Mangini)