There is a lot of talk about coding, but, for those among us who are not into computational thinking, this discipline remains an abstract concept. The "Digital Turn" exhibition currently on at The Building Centre, London (Store Street; until 14th September) invites instead visitors to consider how new technologies can be applied to our cities and generate innovative ways to build and design structures.
The event brings together architects, engineers, planners, advanced manufacturing teams, contractors and academics.
The ZHCODE group, set up by Nils Fischer, Shajay Bhooshan and Patrik Schumacher in 2007, has been using computational programming to create experimental structures, modular housing concepts and robotically assembled prototypes.
The group's display features computational designs based on research in programming, geometry and mathematics through two main themes and sections - "Tectonism", looking at how a structure is built and at geometry through its fabrication and methods of making, and "Semiotics", applying the physical design and construction aspects of the group's work to the social context in which specific designs will exist.
Projects showcased at "Digital Turn" as part of Zaha Hadid CODE's display include robotic additive manufacture and robotic hot wire cutting technology, techniques employed for the "Thallus" sculpture, originally presented in 2017 at Milan Design Week; an insight into technologies such as timber bending and robotic fiber winding; modular housing developed using algorithmic techniques to explore community development and densities, and an exploration of design thinking behind Mathematics, The Winton Gallery at the Science Museum, London (some of these projects are illustrated by videos on the Zaha Hadid Architects YouTube Channel).
The display and "The Digital Turn" event make you think: while the architecture and design industries are launching special research units, fashion is lagging behind.
Sure, there are fashion designers experimenting with new technologies and bridging the gap between science and art, and there are units inside big fashion companies trying to apply algorithms to study the habits of consumers or provide them with style tips. That said, fashion still needs to invest more in research and development, focusing on robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and big data as they may help building a new industry and radically change the way we create and market collections.