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Nested house

A small residential project in Hackney uses one digital threedimensional model as the single source of all project information

Urban Future Organization is a transnational networked architectural practice with a growing international reputation. A small group of its members is actively pursuing the integration of its ideas about data-driven design techniques on a live small-scale residential project in Hackney, London. In the realisation of the Nested House V1.03, it is exploring current developments in parametric design and the 'single building model' paradigm, material and structural research, as well as digital techniques of representation, production and manufacturing that have an effect on the building industry's ability to handle complex design problems.

The site is an existing 45m 2maisonette terrace conversion distributed over three floors in the heart of the De Beauvoir Conservation Area. Due to the conservation area restrictions, the designers deliberately decided to concentrate on the reorganisation of the interior space and its relation to a split-level garden on the roof, offering intimacy and privacy as well as unobstructed views to the City of London. The external treatment only hints at the less orthodox internal arrangement. The roof garden is sited on the two shifted bedroom nests, resulting in one section of the garden being at lower elevation, creating a more intimate and private space or outdoor room. The other garden is higher, with a lower parapet allowing for an open view of the skyline of London.

The plan and section are as open as possible in order to maximise the vertical connection between the ground floor, first floor, second floor and the third floor's roof garden with its greenery and views.

The digital three-dimensional model is the single source of all the project information, ranging from the early stages of design to the manufacturing and construction of the project. Initially the model was set up as a series of relationships between the different programmes, constrained by the geometry of the property, the maximum allowed pitch of the stairs, and the nominal area requirements for different activities. These relationships have been and still can be manipulated through a series of material, structural and formal strategic decisions. Data that is contained within these relationships is allowed to affect the model, allowing new patterns of organisation to arise. At this stage the digital model is entirely parametric, with all volumes and key relationships able to be altered on the fly. All two-dimensional information in terms of drawings and schedules is extracted directly from the model, as it is ready for immediate output as prototypes or as various kinds of simulations. The intention is that the complex geometry of the nests will be manufactured directly from the digital model with an extremely high precision, allowing for the minimal tolerances that are defined by the project constraints.

The group's aim was to develop a higher conceptual consistency in the smaller projects carried out within Urban Future Organization and its collaborations. Through Nested House V1.03, it discovered the tools and techniques for the expedient delivery of highly complex projects on a small scale. The 'single building model' paradigm technology is very much capable of delivering projects with advanced geometries and constraints, and is a valuable asset in assisting with the delivery of highly complex projects with fewer resources than conventional techniques of representation and manufacture would allow for.

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