At least, that’s what architect-programmer Michael Hansmeyer believes. Along with fellow architect-programmer Benjamin Dillenburger, Hansmeyer has been building increasingly complex structures using algorithms for the last five years, from cardboard columns with 16 million facets to the world’s first 3D-printed room.
But his latest project for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Digital Grotesque II, takes the concept of algorithmic architecture beyond the scope of human–or even computer–comprehension.
Created by an algorithm that uses the properties of subdivision to create intricate details down to the level of a grain of sand, Digital Grotesque II has 1.3 billion individual surfaces that were fabricated using a sandstone 3D printer. Resembling one of the manmade grottos that used to grace the pleasure gardens of 16th-century royalty (or perhaps Hugh Hefner), the seven-metric-ton artwork is so complex that ordinary computers couldn’t visualize it during the design process.
“We hear so much about AI these days and it’s leading to the discovery of medicine or leading to certain solutions in traffic management,” Hansmeyer says. “What kind of architecture can a computer propose that we weren’t able to think of either?”