The “Eidos” housing complex collapses communal and individual extremes into a ruthlessly mathematical structure, that somehow manages to be both homogenized and personalized at once. The building structure is equipped with its own means of production, enabling new spaces to be grafted into the old, all at the whim of the inhabitants, but in the restricted formal algorithm of the building.
Designed by students Carlo Bailey and Lorenzo Villaggi at the GSAPP, “Eidos” is an anthropological term, meaning “the distinctive expression of the cognitive or intellectual character of a culture or social group”. Individuals are free to adapt their surroundings, using only the formal language set out by the algorithm. This forces a communal visual identity onto the individual’s spaces, even as the inhabitants’ needs and desires change. Bailey and Villaggi’s design also includes facilities for education and communal production, mixing the semblances of work, life, and learning spaces.
Courtesy of Carlo Bailey & Lorenzo Villaggi
or When Desire becomes Matter
Eidos is a proposal for a housing complex located in East Harlem, New York, designed by architecture students Carlo Bailey and Lorenzo Villaggi. The project was conducted for the housing studio at Columbia University GSAPP, under critic Charles Eldred.
Eidos is a prototypical self-sufficient community based sometime in the near future. The project seeks to manage difference and individualism within spatial collectivity. Additive manufacturing technologies (7-axis 3D printing robots) are employed to facilitate a housing complex that is the physical manifestation of its inhabitants wants, executed within a rigid rule-set of constraints that allow for maximum autonomy and expression. The rule-set consists of a set of algorithms, a “DNA” structure programmed into the robots which feed both environmental and the inhabitant’s desires as inputs to enable the construction of units and the building’s infrastructure. The rules become manifest both at the macroscopic scale - apartments, lot size, distance between units, maximum and minimum floor area - and at the the microscopic scale - walkways, fenestration, room sizes etc.
ORGANIZATION & MASSING
The organization of the complex wants to be as generic and uniform as possible, with the least amount of input from the architect’s hand. The sun’s movement across the site was analyzed to define the optimum placement of light wells and breaks in the grid to minimize shadows and bring light to the ground plane. Cuts in the massing and grid are introduced on the ground to provide connections through to adjacent city blocks and extend the Manhattan grid. The market-place is located on the ground floor with the school lying on the two floors above. The communal areas are strategically located adjacent to the four vertical circulation cores and are intertwined with the housing units throughout the remaining floors of the complex.
The public program of Eidos consists of educational facilities that train those who want to learn design tools and rapid fabrication skills, a market-place for those who sell locally produced 3D printed goods, and communal areas which provide a generic space where the manufacturing and production of goods can be practiced informally. The inward looking communal areas seek to counter the “private single-balcony” typology and encourage community activities and shared spaces. A degree of economical and cultural autonomy will be achieved by the community thanks to a resilient and autonomous form of production and adaptable spatial conditions over time.
The housing complex consists of a tubular steel mega-structure (the only explicit trace of the architect’s hand). It has the combined function of being the tracks that the robots run along and the (infra)structure that upholds the housing units. The 8’ x 8’ grid relentlessly exhausts the horizontal plane across the site and is constantly expressed throughout the project - piercing bedrooms, living rooms and at times visible on unit facades. The grid however changes to a 16’ x 16’ spacing in the spaces of production and school areas. Each inhabitant is assigned a given lot area when joining the community (which can be expanded or contracted depending on need and availability of space); the inhabitant is then free to request any architectural style to her house and spatial configuration. The housing units are printed using a concrete + polymer composite with varying chromatic tones. Each detail is reproduced with fidelity and high resolution.
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