Sunday, 20 September 2009

Unit Programme


Image: Dazzle painting plan, Norman Wilkinson, British marine artist & inventor of dazzle.


Camouflage patterns and forms in the animal kingdom are the outcome of both genetics and the physical conditions of their habitat: creatures adapt and mutate to ‘become’ their surroundings. We are interested in this interactive process of becoming that is not uniquely about disguise, but also about changes in our perception. We will study instances of camouflage, both artificial and naturally occurring and investigate their potential relevance and application within architecture.

Disruptive Pattern

Disruptive Pattern Material was first used as battle costume or applied to military vehicles in the battlefield and vessels at sea. Differing forms such as dazzle (borrowed from cubism) didn’t actually conceal one ship’s presence from another but instead distorted their perceived trajectory and proximity.

Buildings are generally inanimate but our inhabitation engages the effects of stillness and motion. The unit will explore disruptive pattern as a device for making and evolving material approaches responsive to movement and light, which can be applied at various scales of operation.

Image: Illustrations from Adaptive Coloration in Animals, Hugh Cott, 1940


Our approach will be both experimental and analytical. Research will oscillate between the fabrication of material constructs and a critical evaluation of iterations and their effects. Specific surfaces, textures and geometries will be created using both digital and analogue fabrication techniques. Repetition will be explored and applied through evolutionary processes such as unfolded nets or woven organisations. The task will be to produce new tectonic patterns with inherent spatial qualities.


Fieldwork will be focussed in Tokyo, Japan, examining the complex pattern of the city and the roles of camouflage at the scale of a building. A unit-wide catalogue of our findings will be published, classifying key principles for future spatial intervention and strategic use at an urban level.


We will use the conflict of different uses and users as a context in which to test building skins, morphologies and organisational approaches. Polarised programmatic types will test effects such as concealment alongside models that highlight awareness. The objective will be to crystallise the sensation and effects of camouflage through the construction of tactile drawings, relief and sectional models and large-scale fabrications.

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