The work of supermanoeuvre operates at the overlap of design and technology combining extensive design experience with the innovative use of computational design, robotics and advanced modes of fabrication. These unique skills enable us to deliver unique, culturally valuable and high performing projects that achieve significant material, labour and energy efficiencies..
An exemplar project of the practice which showcases our unique capabilities and innovative approach to design is NEST HILO: a stunning research and innovation unit in the domains of lightweight concrete construction and smart, adaptive building systems. Currently under construction in Zurich, HILO is commissioned by EMPA - a Swiss government materials research agency - and will serve as a two-story penthouse for visiting academics from 2017. The project is in collaboration with the Block Research [BRG] and Architecture and Building Systems research groups [A/S] at the ETH Zurich and exemplifies the possibility of a multi-disciplinary and highly integrated design team.
This is a value exemplified by supermanoeuvre's proposal for a winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Creatively locating and burying the barrel-store adjacent to and sloping away from the wine production hall allows for a gravity-fed solution directly serviced via an integrated ramping network. These storage vaults provide the significant benefit of a stable storage environment (temperature and humidity) thus minimising the need for mechanical conditioning and ventilation systems. The geometry of the vaults are optimised for earth-covering while further allowing a rich topographical remodelling of the landscape. This undulating landscape receives the mass of the production hall minimising its visual presence while creating a combination of formal and informal spaces for weddings, concerts and other events. The latter becoming increasingly significant as wine regions have re-positioned themselves as hospitality and tourism destinations emphasising diverse experiences and uses over industrial production alone.
Through careful design and detailing, the MYOLA house sets a new benchmark for sustainable living in Australia through the use of sound passive design principles, the realisation of outstanding thermal performance and the exclusive use of locally sourced materials and trades. The house facade exemplifies this commitment through the application of an ancient Japanese method of fire sealing - Shou-Sugi-Ban - to locally sourced and sawn cypress pine, a highly sustainable, no-maintenance, chemical free and termite-resistant finish that is as beautiful as it is functional.
More than green design principles however, MYOLA presents a new formal language of sustainability by inverting the typical “pitched roof” house diagram. In doing so, the ceiling becomes intricately folded as it negotiates aspects of environmental control (solar gain, storage and glare) and the creation of beautiful living spaces. A design strategy where each fold either spatially differentiates a functional zone of the open-plan, receives a specific sun angle related to a room's use, carefully frames a landscapes view or all of the above.
The wholesale use of commercialised production processes and off-the-shelf components has for too long been a determinant of what is possible in architecture. In contrast, supermanoeuvre's interest with 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 the seamless integration of design, material, structural and construction logics of Utzon, the pavilion demonstrates the ability of advanced computational design methodologies to embed the constraints of material performance, structural form, part fabrication and assembly logics within the creative processes of the design. An approach we call fabrication-aware-form-finding. The realisation of feedback loops between such constraints and design is to done to simplify streamline the design process (although this is an added benefit), rather it is to expose the processes of design to an increased set of influences. Each contributing to an enlarged space of design possibility and freedom.
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 started our own design practice however, 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 one 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... CLOUDS OF VENICE however 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 drawing!
Since 2010 supermanoeuvre has been working with the Australian tech-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.