Erratic - The Material Simulacra of Pliable Surfaces
Paper in proceedings, 2014

This paper examines how designers can invigorate designs with a sense of liveliness and indeterminacy through manipulation of pliable materials. Two approaches to material manipulation are defined and juxtaposed in the paper: The control associated with Frei Otto's elegantly tensioned membranes and the noise associated with Sigurd Lewerentz's intensely material brick walls. These historical approaches become pertinent in relation to current opportunities offered by material simulation software in architecture. Simulation may be used to increase control over the materialization of design, but is at the same time a way to introduce the noise of real-time, real-world experiments into digital design. The paper presents this discussion in parallel with documentation of the research project 'Erratic', a recent installation carried out by the authors' practice Norell/Rodhe. Constructed from polyurethane cold foam, the project combines analogue experiments with digital simulations to target architectural qualities like mass, figuration and relief.


material simulation

pliable surfaces


material manipulation


Daniel Norell

Chalmers, Architecture

Einar Rodhe

Thompson, Emine Mine (ed.), Fusion - Proceedings of the 32nd International Conference on Education and research in Computer aided Architectural Design in Europe (eCAADe) - Volume 2, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK, 10-12 September 2014


Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering


Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Materials Science



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