LAVA flows towards amazing futures

Posted on 26 December 2013
LAVA's crystalline scheme for an ice hotel and mixed uses complex in Harbin, China's 10th largest city.

LAVA’s crystalline scheme for an ice hotel and mixed uses complex in Harbin, China’s 10th largest city.


Where to now? For architecture’s next generation of artistic visionaries, there are two obvious avenues for expression: optimism or pessimism.

LAVA – the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture – is a multinational team led by German optimists.

All three directors – Chris Bosse (based in Sydney), Tobias Wallisser (in Berlin) and Alexander Rieck (in Stuttgart) – are visualising exciting future environments and structures to support human life in a century of accelerating climate change crises.

This latest publication of LAVA’s first five years of independent practice serves a feast of 21st century architectural fantasies – all potentially and practically deliverable via highly precise building information modelling and computer-controlled manufacturing systems. The precision and accuracy of today’s engineering and construction technologies – combined with novel materials only now made possible by digital technologies (that enable recycling for example) – brings unprecedented efficiencies for architecture.

Parametric modelling of building designs also expands the parameters and potentials for architects’ creativity. Architects espousing ‘simple boxes’ – a mainstream mantra against algorithm-empowered  ‘blobbists’ of the early 2000s – are simply ignoring the technological capacities of our time.

LAVA’s 40-something directors are the second generation of architects to be educated using computer-aided design and building information modelling systems – and the first generation to be regulated to design ecologically ethical buildings and environments.

Creatively and intelligently integrating natural, constructed and virtual environments is a basic platform of their practice – as are thinking and operating at both global and site-specific scales.

Night lighting of public spaces under the ETFE bubble dome of LAVA's proposed Future Home rootop pavilion in Beijing.

Night lighting of public spaces under the ETFE bubble dome of LAVA’s proposed Future Home rootop pavilion in Beijing.

There is no doubting the exceptional talents of LAVA’s principals. They are internationally exhibited and accepted as one of architecture’s most brilliant conceptual teams of the early 21st century.

Their challenge is how to compete or collaborate with many commercially pragmatic large international practices: to not only win design competitions but remain employed on their projects during the financially and politically ruthless documentation and stakeholder consultation phases.

Good luck to Chris, Tobias and Alexander – and their many collaborators and supporters around the world – in navigating the death throes of the baby boomer era and their own ‘paper architecture’ years of independent practice. Let’s see more of LAVA’s remarkable visions translated to solid form.

—Jackson Davina. 2013. ‘Where to Now?’, a foreword for the practice monograph LAVA: Laboratory for Visionary Architecture. Sydney, Berlin: LAVA.

—In September 2016, LAVA won the European Prize for Architecture, one of the world’s most prestigious honours for general superiority of a practice (rather than one specific project).

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