How Do You Build a Rock?

The project for the artificial rocks in Taiwan grew out of two traditions: on the one hand that of the Japanese Zen garden in which various natural rocks are surrounded by an expanse of raked gravel in such a way that both their form and their position generate tension; on the other, that of the large expanses of timber decking that are found in ports around the world, on which people can relax by the sea.

In the Ocean Plaza in Batoutz we decided to create a garden of artificial rocks made of timber, modelled on the volcanic rocks that ring the port. But how do you generate a family of artificial rocks on the basis of neighbouring natural rock formations?

We decided to look for a set of geometric rules common to all the rocks in a family. Having established that most rocks are more or less pyramidal, with inflections toward the centre of their edges, it was decided to start with a cube and define take 20 points on its surface that could be used to create pyramidal elements with triangulated surfaces similar to the original rocks.

The system was developed as follows:

If we think of a cube as having 20 points, 8 correspond to its vertices (v), and the other 12 to the midpoints of its edges (m). If we want to generate a rock starting from this geometric basis, we have 6 sides (A, B, C, D, E, F), each of which has 8 points, of which the 4 midpoints on the edges (m4) are shared with the four adjacent sides and each of the 4 vertices (v4) is shared with another 2 sides. So if any one side is modified by joining the midpoints of the edges, five sides will be modified. At the same time we also have another relation of dependence, because when we look at the possible connections between the 20 basic points (20b) we find intersections, giving us the first generation of new points (pg1), 29 per side, with a resolution of 194 points in the first generation; 20b + 147 g1.

We thus have a system with a number of initial classifications of the elements and the dependencies between them. Now we could take any of the avenues offered by new technologies. In this case we opted for one based on equations and conditions of connection, which promised to be particularly viable for the creation of new points of intersection.

The system starts with the data of the basic cube, these dimensions distort the cube in the 8v, starting always from the centroid of the bottom of the cube. Introducing here a new parameter—the angle between the axes of the centroid of our cube—in order to generate the first families, we can now explore the family of the right angle.

The next step is to define the points to be modified; at this stage the points are only modified in terms of their connection. Using a spreadsheet, a series of formulas enables us to calculate the midpoint, the intersection between two lines, the lines between two midpoints and finally the midpoint of these new lines to generate new points (pg1) on the basis of the first set of connection relations, using in each case the formula that serves to find a new point. The resulting data are then interrelated with a 3D programme that recognizes the coordinates of each point and the activation of more or fewer points. Finally, in order to create more irregular configurations, new parameters of deformation are introduced, now with a polar system and based on the centroid. The result is a parametric rock that is configured in terms of its number of faces and connections, on the basis of a simple cube.

Project Date: 2003

Construction Date: 2008

Main architects: Vicente Guallart, Maria Díaz

Local Architects: J.M. Lin The Oberver Design Group

Images: Laura Cantarella, Sabine Mayer

3D: Lucas Cappelli + Uoku.com-net artchitects; Lucas Jagodnik, Julieta Serena,Mariano Castro, Horacio Suaya

3D images: YLAB Tobias Laarmann

3D images Ocean Plaza: Néstor David Palma

Models: Fabián Asunción, Soledad Revuelto, Ángel Luis Gaspar, María José Bizama, Ruth Martín

Ocean Plaza Model: Theodora Christoforidou, Fotis Vasilakis, Andrea Imaz, Daniela Frogheri, Fernando Meneses

Collaborators: Christine Bleicher, Ester Rovira, Maria Osa, Kika Estarella, Ekhiñe Nieto, Michael Strauss, Rodrigo Landáburu, Melissa Magallanes, Carlos Valdés, Ricardo Guerreiro

Parametric Rocks Video: Oriol Ferrer

Tourism: José Miguel Iribas.

Sustainability: Rafael Serra Florensa. UPC.

Solar Energy: Oscar Acebes. TFM.

Structure: Willy Muller, WMA.

Port Engeneering: Vicente Cerdá, UPV

Crystallographic advisor: Albert Soler

Photography of rocks: Universitat de Barcelona.

Chinese translation: Lin Yi.

Chinese culture: Li-An Tsien