michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns
michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns
apr 11, 2011

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns

zurich-based architect and programmer michael hansmeyer has sent us images of his latest exploration into computational architecture, ‘ornamented columns’. working with the CAAD group at ETH’s architecture department, hansmeyer has created a series of columns — both 3D and in actuality — that utilize algorithms and subdivision processes to generate a new column order that defines and elaborates its system of ornament.

michael hansmeyerall images courtesy michael hansmeyer



taking an abstracted doric column as a point of departure, individual components are identified through the subdivision process which works on a number of local parameter settings based on the input form’s topography as well as its topology. the result is a complex and idiosyncratic language that exhibit very specific local conditions and forms.

michael hansmeyer



the 2.7-meter high fabrication is painstakingly constructed from 1mm layer grey board sheets which have been individually cut using a mill or laser then stacked together on poles that run through a common core. consisting of over six million faces, the circumference of some sheets measured along the cutting path can reach up to 8 meters. since the initial prototype, tests using ABS, wood and metal have been under way.

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns fabricated prototype

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns on exhibit at the swiss federal institute of technology in zurich

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns photograph of column segments during construction

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns detail of prototype

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns initial sketches of variants that were generated from a uniform process

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns stacking of the layers

michael hansmeyer: ornamented columns calculation steps for obtaining the cutting paths


  • thinkmcflythink … I think you are being exclusive in that the results of any experiment should not be excluded because of the means. Those are pretty amazing pieces by themselves and you will divorce yourself, and find yourself behind of any enjoyment of any of these pieces. I understand your techofreak take as it stands in the very wake of a humanness, but everybody has to/should be inclusive of new technology to create as many new views as possible..

  • I find it interesting that the formal qualities of this type of work always seem to bend toward some predetermined notion of “the future” as depicted by generations of popular science-fiction. I believe the intention and the tools speak to a contemporary taste, and are laudable to a degree in terms of their use here, but, for me, this kind of work is aesthetically empty, and I agree with Philharmonikon in that this effect is the general result of present day technocentricity.

  • There is a huge artistic involvement in here. This is not just science. If Philharmonikon can’t see that, he is just as blinkered as he suggests the creator is. the methods used to create are never as important as the result.

  • Shhhh! Just let the die-hard modernists keep thinking that this kind of work is evil decoration.

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