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Since the project was to be set 100 years in the future, we started by analyzing the city and its history to understand which features were more likely to survive for the centuries to come. We also considered the plan of renewal of the city, which will create a new centrality [blue] and change destination to the industrial area on the river to the east [red].

We decided to place our project right accros the river Drava, in front of the new centre, very close to both the historical town [green] and the railway station [purple], so that it will become a space where people have to pass through to reach the main areas of Maribor.

The fundamental concept at the very heart of the project is that we imagine a future where technology will be able to connect people no matter the distance, but there will still be the need for places where people can meet and discuss concepts and ideas. We tried to create a space that could fulfill this need while connecting different places of the city. The tunnel-like structures can be seen as bridges to cross boundaries and they vary their width as they come together to host different activities.


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Since we wanted to create a structure which could connect different spots, we tried to apply stigmergic behavior to our system. Stigmergy is a type of social communication (observed especially in insect colonies, such as ants) where the agents of a system exchange information through traces left in the environment for other agents to sense. The information that these agents exchange is extremely simple, but it allows the whole system to create simil-intelligent structures.

In our specific case, we used Processing, a free-source software that allowed us to create geometries we started to work on. In the animation on the left, it's possible to view how agents start from six chosen spots moving towards another of these spots and leaving a trace as they travel. As they are moving, if they get closer to a trace left by another agent than they are to their target, they will start following that trace.


lifting agents

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Besides stigmergic behavior, the system had to be set in the actual environment and the agents had to interact with it. We then placed the simulation in the area and made agents "sense" their proximity to the railway, the roads or the river. As the animation on the left shows, when an agent gets close to one of these obstacles, it will rise to avoid it. On the other side, as it's getting further away from the obstacle, it will start to lower down to street level. In addition to these rules we decided to place a "roof" on how high the agents could go.



Voxelization is a process to create 3D geometry by "filling" the voxels of a given space by determined rules. In our particular case, once set the size of the voxels, we had three parameters that we could regulate such as the threshold for the isosurface, the intensity of the diffusion and the number of iterations of the latter.

Along with this step, since the ground wasn't perfectly horizontal but gently sloping towards the river, our new geometry needed to adapt. We did so by adding the z-coord of the terrain to that of the agents, thus having our agents moving from 0 to the maximum height according to the sloping of the ground. The animation on the left clearly shows the creation of the voxelized mesh on the terrain.


Once the geometry had been created, the faces of the mesh were instructed to open following two simple rules:

At first, we used Autodesk® Ecotect® Analysis and imported the insolation analysis results in Grasshopper. Every face was set to open proportionally to the amount of light that hit it during the day;

Secondly, we manually operated on the model by choosing some points (especially where the bigger halls had formed) that acted as attractors to regulate the opening of the faces: the closer to the point, the smaller the opening.

This way, every face of the surface was given two values (one was the solar radiation amount and one was the distance from the closest of the attractors) and the width of the opening was set accordingly to the minimum of the two values.