Greg Lynn


Written by Don't Panic
13 Wednesday 13th January 2010

Hi Greg. You are credited with inventing ‘blob architecture'. What are the benefits?

The term is used to describe binary large object modelling. Basically you take a whole bunch of polygons and you smooth them all together. It allows you to build with the surface in mind and brings architecture into dialogue with other fields like fine art and aerospace.



You create your designs on computers. Does that give you more or less control of the end result?

I think on the whole it gives you more creative possibility. I don't build a model and then take it onto the computer; from the first sketch the computer is involved. I see it as a design medium, not a tool or a piece of technology. For my generation that's an exception, but it will be normal for future generations so people will have to adapt. The computer lets designers work more collectively, with more collaboration, although there is a need for things to be definitive and dimensionally perfect.



How can your designs for structures like the embryonic house help to improve living standards?

Well, with the embryonic house most of the energy went towards building a complex, rather than rooms and interiors. It was a chance to use new materials like superform titanium and thermo-moulded plastics, which will be hugely valuable to construction technology. Also the aesthetic was very organic - trying to get away from the idea of following fashion, which I hate. Architecture is faster than most fields; it only really flirts with contemporary culture.  

I tend not to think of people in general terms, more about specific projects. I'm working with social housing, but in individual contexts. The age of sweeping modernism is over; the architectural role is more experimental now

Can you tell me about your work on the Ground Zero project?

There was a big group of us and we all had different aesthetics, but we had to agree on the principles. The idea was of New York as a grid and then each building could be an icon, representing a new idea. The main feature was to have the streets running through the site to make a complex. Out of that came cathedral vaults around the footprints. There was financial feasibility and it was a fairly popular scheme, but at every public presentation we did, they had 3000 people in ‘rebuild the towers' t-shirts. In retrospect, to build five connected towers at once would have been unlikely.

I know you're a big fan of robots. How far have you got with them and what new ones are coming up?

In my office I'm surrounded with them for building models and furniture. Basically to do what a person would have done; sanding, shaping, things like that. I spend a lot of time talking to robots. With their help we can imagine a time when buildings will move. I was in Vegas recently and I saw these dancing signs and giant moving stages. I realised that this is the future. Right now I'm trying desperately to finish designing a walking fountain that can hopefully be installed in the Olympic park. They already have robotic buildings in Soeul.

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