Time Enhanced Architectural Modeling
We transform architecture and design into experiences to be lived in VR
Thanks to Maurizio Sabini, we had the chance to show Osaka’70 to an entire class of architecture students from the Politecnico di Milano. Maurizio is a Professor of Architecture at the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University, but for this term he is a visiting professor at Politecnico di Milano. He decided to use the Osaka’70’s experience to introduce his students to the figure of Maurizio Sacripanti, who is often not mentioned at the University.
Matteo Silverio hosted us in his laboratory-studio among experimental prototypes, 3D printers and design pieces made of Murano glass. He uses a parametric approach in his work, in order to blend innovative forms with traditional Venetian materials. Given Matteo’s familiarity with Grasshopper, it was interesting showing him “Piattaforma Uno”, with its parametric volumes to manipulate.
After trying out the two experiences — Osaka’70 and Piattaforma Uno — a stimulating dialogue with the architect began. Some of his suggestions were valuable in improving the relationship between the user and the interactions with the virtual scenario.
We couldn’t leave Rome without going through Purini-Thermes studio and bringing them the Osaka Pavilion in VR.
Accademia di San Luca and MAXXI keep the archive of Sacripanti’s drawings (you can find the respective articles about our stops on the tour here and here), but Franco Purini preserves the historical memory of this great architect.
One leg of our tour took us to the MAD Architects Rome office.
We were welcomed by Andrea D’Antrassi, the Associate Partner of the firm, who asked if we could show Osaka’70 to the whole team. This allaowed us to use the multi-user mode for the first time, and bring more than one person in addition to the guide.
In fact, at each stop, John Volpato or Valentina Temporin accompanied the visitor through Sacripanti’s pavilion just like a real guided tour.
This feature allows us to move from a solitary to a social experience. It is also useful to explain the peculiarities of architecture inside the virtual space, in a direct interaction with the other participants.
During the second leg of our tour, we took Osaka’70 to MAXXI, the Museum of XXI Century Arts which houses part of the Sacripanti Fund (the documents in the other part of the Fund are kept at the Accademia di San Luca, you can find our article here). On the tour we spoke with Elena Tinacci and Laura Felci, two members of the MAXXI museum staff, as they visited the pavilion.
Elena Tinacci has been part of the permanent staff of the MAXXI museum since 2010: initially, she dealt with architecture archives, and she currently carries out research aimed at enhancing MAXXI Architecture collections through exhibitions and publications.
Since 2015, Laura Felci has been the head of MAXXI Architecture Collections.
After the visit, the dialogue focused on the reconstruction of the technical details of the pavilion, and especially on the pavilion’s surroundings. We present here a synopsis of what was discussed.
The first stop on the tour had to be Rome, among the places dear to Sacripanti, in the city where he lived and worked all his life. The attic in Piazza del Popolo – where the architect had his studio – hosted in 1968 the project team for the Osaka pavilion. Rome is also home to the Sacripanti collection owned by the Accademia di San Luca and the MAXXI Museum. It is from these places that our tour officially began.
At the Academy, architect Francesco Cellini, former President, welcomed us with Anna Maria De Gregorio and Magda Romano.
We are now translating the interview into English and we will make it available soon!
Il progetto di Maurizio Sacripanti del Padiglione Italiano all’Esposizione Internazionale di Osaka del 1970 continua a catturare la nostra attenzione. Stiamo approfondendo il nostro caso studio che si sta arricchendo di dettagli appassionanti grazie all’indagine sui materiali di concorso. Abbiamo notato che in precedenti ricostruzioni tridimensionali alcuni particolari sono rimasti abbozzati. Il nostro obiettivo è però l’esplorazione in realtà virtuale dell’edificio e non vorremmo lasciare nulla di indefinito. Quello che ci interessa è soprattutto che l’esperienza immersiva risulti quanto più possibile aderente all’idea che Sacripanti aveva del padiglione. In quest’ottica un altro strumento prezioso sono le interviste ad alcuni dei professionisti che hanno preso parte al progetto.
Ci è sembrato necessario contattare Franco Purini, che ha lavorato con continuità, dal 1964 al 1968 e successivamente dal 1971 al 1973, nello studio di Maurizio Sacripanti, indicato più volte da lui come il suo maestro.
For the first time visitors from outside our lab crossed the entrance of the pavilion that Sacripanti imagined for the 1970 Osaka International Expo.
The first tickets for a preview of the experience went to DONTSTOP architettura, an architecture studio founded in Milan in 2011 by Michele Brunello and Marco Brega, who welcomed us to discuss with them the adventure of T.E.A.M. followed by a visit to the pavilion. Maurizio De Caro, an architect, architecture theorist and critic and founder of Maurizio De Caro/Architects&Planners, joined the visit.
DONTSTOP is a multidisciplinary studio that involves itself with architecture, urban planning and exhibit design. Their dynamic approach, always open to debate and encouraging innovation, has stimulated a fruitful discussion on the integration of the medium of virtual reality in the design process. We considered the different ways to approach this according to the type of user and the objective to be achieved.
So, Maurizio Sacripanti’s reconstructed architecture is finally on tour! If you own an Oculus Quest you will soon be able to download the experience, if not, we can schedule a special VR session and bring it to you – during sessions, we strictly adhere to anti-COVID-19 protective measures.
It’s been 50 years since the conception of Maurizio Sacripanti’s project, never built, of the Italian pavilion for the Osaka Expo.
With T.E.A.M. we made a detailed reconstruction of the 3D model based on interviews with the design team and the study of the architect’s documents, with the aim of experiencing the building in VR with the Oculus Quest.
For our lab, Osaka ‘70 is a research tool that allows us to investigate the relationship between VR and architecture, in particular the relationship with kinetic elements. For the visitor it is a way to explore a never built project – one which is nevertheless fundamental for the history of Italian architecture – and enjoy a total experience of the space as Sacripanti imagined it.
Since we decided that our first case study would have been the Osaka pavilion, we started researching the project documentation, which was unfortunately lacking in details since the project never made it beyond the competition. In a 3D model for virtual reality, however, nothing can be left to chance. You can’t use tricks or “dark corners” to hide missing information, as you would probably do for a static render or a video. The visitors must be able to explore the pavilion as if they were actually in the physical space. Everything is out in the open. Likewise, we can’t build the scene as if it were the 3D space of a traditional videogame, where volumes and details of objects are simplified with textures.
This thinking therefore guided our work, but it wasn’t our only consideration. We have to admit that Sacripanti has meanwhile become almost a presence in our lab – we couldn’t have disappointed him.
And so, we imagined ourselves as archaeologists unearthing a building that was never built, re-constructing the Osaka pavilion in 2021, 53 years after its conception.*
One of the goals we set from the beginning with T.E.A.M. was to make the VR experience as natural as possible, even for users without previous experience with virtual reality headsets. In this regard, the use of the Oculus Quest headset has been almost mandatory. Besides the fact that it’s the only VR headset on the market today capable of providing a complete VR experience (with 6 degrees of freedom) without the need to be connected to an external PC, the Quest also allows – thanks to four cameras that scan and process the physical space all around – to trace the user’s hands in real time, using them as controllers directly within the VR environment. “So great!”, we said to ourselves, “We can make digital experiences without worrying about cables and external sensors, and above all we can allow the user to use their own hands!”
As already mentioned in the introductory articles about Maurizio Sacripanti and the Osaka competition, one of the main topics of the research project T.E.A.M is the digital modeling of several architectural designs, some of which were chosen from existing projects. One of them is the project of the Italian pavilion for the Osaka World Expo of 1970 designed by the Italian architect Maurizio Sacripanti.
During the early stage of our research project, we discovered an account of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca made by the Italian engineer and academic Maurizio Dècina. He worked with Sacripanti on the Osaka pavilion, designing the mechanical and electronic parts of the project, and processing a system capable of achieving the movements of the pavilion. We are excited to present the following interview, conducted on July 25, 2020, aimed at understanding the contribution of Maurizio Dècina to the Osaka pavilion, his experience in the social and cultural context of those years, his vision of the union between computer science and architectural design, and finally the technological tools behind the Osaka project. We have translated the interview from Italian to English and the original text will be shown below.
“An architecture in continuous motion is not utopian… if you consider the normal perception of today’s individual, accustomed to current modes of transportation, television and fast-moving information, this perception is a mutable and dynamic one.”Maurizio Sacripanti
If you missed the first introductory article about Maurizio Sacripanti, you can find it here.
In 1968 Sacripanti and his team joined the competition to design the Italian pavilion for the Universal Exposition of 1970 in Osaka. He proposed the idea of a space in perpetual motion, a living organism, experimental and courageous, which clearly differed from the other competing projects. This proposal was aimed at the promotion of the messages and contents that were supposed to represent the Italian values of the time. His idea of Italy was clear: “a reality in motion, amidst a thousand difficulties, and with a thousand obstacles, but with a commitment to vital and continuous dynamism” .