Combinatorial Architecture Methods for the creation of ambiance in public space

Caterina Tiazzoldi

Keywords: combinatorial, attributes, parametric, performance, associative, urban, urban ambiance

Atmosphere refers to an impalpable condition with the capacity to influence our feelings. Making an urban atmosphere means creating an impalpable condition through the execution of a series of specific operations: spatial, geometrical, sound acoustic, and climatic. This operation signifies the transformation of the qualitative into the quantitative, the non-measurable into the measurable, and the intangible into the tangible. This paper discusses the Combinatorial Architecture methodology, which was developed by the author as a proposal for a methodological model for architectural design. The methodology was developed in the research Lab Non-Linear Solutions Unit at the GSAPP Columbia University, consisting in the manipulation of attributes and building blocks to determine quantitative and qualitative parameters of a public space. Recent case studies explore two different ways in which Combinatorial Architecture can transform public spaces: The first case study, Instant Installation, First Street Green Park, commissioned by the City of New York, shows how the combinatorial methodology can be used to develop multiple configurations and transform the ambiance of an existing urban setting. The second case study, the wind turbine park the Whirlers, presented in 2014 at the RENFORUS Conference at UNESCO, shows how the Combinatorial Architecture methodology can be used to develop unprecedented forms of public spaces connecting renewable energies and urban life.