supermanoeuvre is an international award winning architecture and innovation company. Operating at the overlap of design and technology we combine extensive architectural design experience with expertise in computational design, robotics and advanced fabrication methods. This enables us to deliver unique, culturally valuable and high performing projects that achieve significant material, labour and energy efficiencies.
An exemplar project that showcases the practice’s unique capabilities and innovative approach is NEST HILO a construction innovation demonstration project due for completion in 2017. NEST HILO, a two-storey penthouse for visiting academics situated in Zurich, is commissioned by EMPA: the Swiss government materials research agency.
Key innovations developed for the project are:
- An ultra-thin, thermally active, and energy generating concrete roof shell designed and constructed in a materially minimal way.
- A thermally active pre-fabricated concrete floor system that uses 70% less concrete than conventional approaches.
- Adaptive Solar Facade employing soft-robotics and machine learning to negotiate energy generation, solar-ingress, privacy and outlook desires.
NEST HILO is designed in close collaboration with the Block Research Group [BRG] and Architecture and Building Systems research group [A/S] at the ETH Zurich and exemplifies the possibility of a multi-disciplinary and highly integrated design team.
This simple rule defines our approach to everything we do. A supermanoeuvre project that demonstrates our ability to add value through creative design is our competition winning scheme for a winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Turning constraints into opportunities the project creatively buries the barrel-store adjacent to and sloping away from the wine fermentation and production hall. This move yields significant advantages: mechanical pumping is eliminated replaced by gravity-fed distribution; forklift travel and turning is minimised via direct, integrated ramping; the earth covered storage vaults provide temperature and humidity stability all but eliminating energy intensive cooling and ventilation systems.
In burying the barrel storage vaults, the project transforms the once flat site into an undulating landscape. This simultaneously reduces the visual bulk of the main production hall and generates a suite of formal and informal external spaces for weddings, concerts, picnics and other events. Together these elements and performance gains underwrite expanded business opportunities that capitalise on the Yarra region’s shift towards hospitality and tourism in concert with wine production.
The MYOLA HOUSE sets a new benchmark for affordable sustainable living in Australia. The project demonstrates the possibilities of coupling passive design principles with sophisticated digital simulation tools, to realise outstanding environmental performance. Beyond which, the project takes a broader cultural position through the exclusive use of locally sourced materials and trades. Notably, all timber framing and cladding is sourced and processed at the local Cyprus timber mill just 500m from the site.
The Cyprus timber facade is treated with an ancient Japanese method of fire sealing - Shou-Sugi-Ban - to attain a highly sustainable, no-maintenance, chemical free and termite-resistant finish that is as beautiful as it is functional. The MYOLA HOUSE presents a new formal language of sustainability by inverting the typical “pitched roof” house diagram. The highly insulated and ventilated thick ceiling space serves as a thermal buffer keeping the rooms below cool in summer and warm in winter. The ceiling is intricately folded to negotiate environmental control - solar gain, storage and glare - and the creation of beautiful living spaces. Each valley-fold defines a functional zone, while each peak-fold either frames a carefully selected view or receives specific sun angles.
supermanoeuvre's investment in advanced computational design approaches, emerging fabrication technologies and the rediscovery of artisanal processes enables a renewed pursuit of the non-standard and unique in design.
In 2013, supermanoeuvre were commissioned to design a pavilion celebrating the 40th anniversary of Jorn Utzon's magnificent Sydney Opera House. Inspired by Utzon’s seamless integration of design, material, structural and construction logics, the pavilion demonstrates the ability of advanced computational design methodologies to embed such constraints within the creative processes of the design. An approach we call fabrication-aware-form-finding. The UTZON/40 pavilion challenges the traditionally linear and compartmentalised workflows of design and construction via the development of an algorithmic design model model that simultaneously negotiates structural shape, part generation and the very machine instruction code necessary to the fabrication of the timber and concrete parts. The realisation of new levels of fluidity between the act of design and the processes of production allow for entirely unique without increased time or financial cost.
Having worked for some of the most celebrated architects in the world on some of the most exciting [and expensive] projects, we got used to having the budgets to do almost anything! Since starting our own design practice, we clearly operate under different conditions yet our desire to create amazing architecture has not changed. Only now we work smarter across the areas of design, fabrication and construction to attain the same outcomes!
supermanoeuvre's fascination with the development of custom design tools and software therefore stems from a deep desire to include an increasingly diverse set of influences and concerns within the early stages of design. Our interest is more than simply improving workflows but is about expanding the architect's skill set ensuring greater logistical control, precision and assurance when the complexity of a project increases.
Over the years, the practice has written bespoke applications for: structural optimisation; rationalisation of complex geometries; the automation of numerous design tasks such as the description, drawing and scheduling of large numbers of non-standard parts. In more recent times however, our curiosity has led us to more speculative scenarios such as distributed and artificial intelligence, computer vision and sensing for a variety of applications spanning the design of cities and transport networks to the realisation of real-time adaptive robotic fabrication.
As a practice, we maintain that it is only through our deep adoption of computing and the continual development of new design softwares and interfaces with industrial robots that we are able to realise the previously unthinkable, unaffordable and unbuildable architectures.
Our interest in coupling robotic fabrication to computational (algorithmic) design strategies is a conscious attempt to rediscover architecture’s rich historical relationship with making. The practice values architecture that is materially and spatially rich and that is gifted with bespoke, idiosyncratic and ornamental qualities. We feel the compartmentalisation of design, manufacturing and construction has closed the doors on many such opportunities in design. We prefer to work in a more collaborative model with skilled contractors and project managers to realise the best possible outcome.
For the 2012 International Venice Architecture Biennale, supermanoeuvre harnessed robotic fabrication in order to challenge the reductive economies of construction and in doing so redefine the potentials of architectural space itself. Architecture for too long has been defined by a very low population of parts: columns, walls, floors, ceilings, etc... In contrast, CLOUDS OF VENICE proposed a new spatial experience no longer reliant on a limited set of discrete spatial elements. Instead, the project posited a highly diffuse and gradient spatial reading enabled by an ultra-high population assembly of mass-customised, robotically fabricated steel rods. The final installation included over 1000 unique pieces all digitally generated and robotically fabricated. Moreover we did so without ever producing a construction drawing!
Since 2010 supermanoeuvre has been working with the Australian technology-startup company Organic Response on a revolutionary lighting control systems that harnesses distributed intelligence to significantly reduce the energy consumption of our built environment. Given lighting accounts for almost 35% of a building’s energy consumption and that buildings contribute significantly to global emissions, we think we are working on one of the most exciting emerging technologies of recent time.
At the heart of the system is an intelligent plug and play sensor node designed by supermanoeuvre that is integrated into each luminaire. These nodes contain a motion sensor, infrared transmitter, infrared receiver, ambient light and onboard intelligent microprocessor that allow the individual luminaire to collectively negotiate via cord logics an appropriate lighting level based on environmental and occupant input.
If you haven’t heard of Organic Response yet, don’t worry, you soon will!
supermanoeuvre is an international award winning architecture and innovation practice operating globally out of Sydney and Zurich. We were one of the six practices to represent Australia at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale and our research have been exhibited internationally including at New York's Storefront for Art and Architecture, the 2008 and 2010 Beijing Architecture Biennales. The directors have lectured on the firm's work at such institutions as the Architectural Association and the University College of London [Bartlett]; Columbia and Princeton Universities and their writings on architectural theory have been published in some of the discipline's most prestigious periodicals such as Log Journal for Architecture.
supermanoeuvre is currently working on; an innovative material and construction demonstration project in Zurich; an exemplar sustainable house project in outback NSW; an algorithmically form-found thin-shell stone vault pavilion for the Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor. Michigan; a revolutionary sustainable lighting system with Australian technology startup Organic Response.
DAVE PIGRAM is a designer, researcher and educator and holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architecture from Columbia University in New York, attained whilst studying on a Marten Bequest Scholarship. Dave is currently based in Zurich, Switzerland, directing the realisation of the NEST HILO project.
Dave has extensive architectural and masterplan experience having worked for Studio Daniel Libeskind during which time he led design teams on large scale urban transformation projects, museums and commercial projects. His knowledge and enthusiasm for architecture is only matched by his technological prowess when it comes to computational design and robotics.
Despite this however, we know him best for his role as a viking in what was the largest Bollywood film ever made; The Rising.
IAIN (Max) MAXWELL is a registered Architect and holds Masters in Architecture from the Architectural Association School [AA School] in London, attained whilst studying on a British Council Landerer Arts Scholarship.
Max has extensive project experience across a range of project types and scales including; institutional; sports; aviation and rail; masterplanning and commercial. He has considerable international experience having worked in Australia and the UK for Amanda Levete Architects [formerly Future Systems], Populous, Grimshaw Architects. BVN [Bligh Voller Nield] and Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn.
In 2007 Max was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects Young Architects Prize, yet to us, he is the guy that likes making stuff. An interest that stems from his father who continues to build aeroplanes in his home garage.