Engineer Cecil Balmond - of Arup’s cutting-edge Advanced Geometry Unit - is perhaps best-known for high-profile collaborations with architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito and Alvaro Siza. His influence upon architectural thinking though extends far beyond clever engineering.
Combining studies in chemistry, mathematics and architecture, Balmond opened up new architectural routes, making what was once impossible, possible. He has developed a means of handling extremely complex architectural compositions. Inspired by natural structures, Balmond has created algorithms and new geometries, designed to free up architectural forms.
Balmond’s latest exhibition, Element, in Tokyo’s Opera City Gallery offers an in-depth presentation of his innovative approach. The show comprises three parts. In the first, Balmond avoids relying too heavily on architectural models or technical drawings, encouraging visitors to explore, in greater depth, how the engineer adapts organic forms into geometric structures.
The second section explores how a complex organic rhythm and language can be applied to building design. Two installations on site – H_edge, a labyrinthine structure made entirely out of H-shaped aluminium plates and chains, and Danzer, a giant three-dimensional puzzle created out of four kinds of tetrahedrons – showcase how such a method can be applied to large scale construction, bringing a building
to life.
The final instalment of the show runs through a number of the best-known examples of Balmond’s work, from projects in Taichung and the Emirates, to recent bridge designs.
Beautiful and immersive, the installations offer visitors an insight into Balmond’s forward-looking methods, which reintroduce both organic forms alongside architectural technologies and compositions.