Animatronic 'Supermodels' to dissolve the divide between analog and digital
By Josh Niland|
Monday, Dec 12, 2022
An exhibition highlighting twenty years of UK architecture studio Piercy&Co’s experimentations in the design of sensory experiences was recently on view inside London’s Regent Quarter estate that used eight moving and animated models in order to “reconnect digital and physical worlds through a childlike sense of wonder and unfiltered joy.”
Rather than incorporating traditional models used in the development of the studio’s architectural designs, the examples featured in Supermodels employ mechanical automata, projection mapping, sound, scents, and light in an attempt to ascertain the limits of how modeling can communicate and express the ideas their team members developed in between building projects.
According to the firm, “each super model is based on a building by Piercy&Co — some built, some unbuilt — and abstracted to capture the kernel of the idea behind the building. The ‘coming alive’ of the models through film, sound, and movement plays into the mysterious allure of objects with a miniature life of their own [...] The evocation of delight is intentionally egalitarian — an exploration of a mode of architectural communication that is ageless and universal.”
Speaking of their motivation in a Guardian review of the exhibition, the studio’s founder, Stuart Piercy, pointed to the models as an alternative to the limited experiences and lack of prehensible understanding laden in modern digital mockups of designs. “We’re lacking really tangible things — everything’s becoming a bit hard to relate to virtually. There’s something about mechanical models that are really authentic and honest: you have a childlike fascination with them.”
“There’s nothing wrong with digital — we’re not going backwards,” he continued. “Our motivation wasn’t anti-digital but choosing the best from both worlds, and I think we’re obsessed with artificial life. AI is one way, but when you combine it with really physical things [...] that’s tangible. That’s exciting.”
The exhibition also offered the chance to look at the studio's ongoing transformation of the Jahn Building within the 3.5-acre Regent Quarters development. Two other buildings are also being retrofitted as part of the ten-year project's second phase that is expected to be complete soon.
The exhibition closed on Sunday. More information about the ongoing renovations can be found here.
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