A ContemPLAY-tive Design

February 2012

Architecture graduate students have designed a structure fusing beauty with higher mathematics so seamlessly that architects and students around the globe are taking note. The elegant weave of wood and metal, dubbed ContemPLAY, was developed with a computer-based design process using high level mathematics to produce specifications for the structure’s complex shapes. “We spent eight months writing the computer program alone,” says Andrew Hruby, MArch’11, one of the masterminds behind the effort.

A close-up of ContemPLAY during construction (Photo - Owen Egan)

The graceful pavilion, located on McGill’s lower campus, has appeared on such prominent architecture websites as Evolo and World Architecture News.

Designed by 15 students, the novel structure provides an intimate site for two or three people to relax and ponder the shifting light filtering through the design. More importantly, it shows student architects what they can accomplish by combining theoretical approaches, advanced construction techniques, digital processes and high level collaboration.

However you approach ContemPLAY, the effect is visually stunning. Most design projects like this never leave the drawing board, but the students raised funds from within McGill as well as from local architecture firms to build it; materials and some manufacturing were also donated. In turn, Hruby and his colleagues hope to donate their creation to the City of Montreal.

ContemPLAY is an outgrowth of the School of Architecture’s Directed Research Studio program and was developed in collaboration with the school’s Facility for Architectural Research and Media Mediation. To learn more about the concepts behind ContemPLAY and their role in contemporary architectural thinking and approaches, visit www.mcgill.ca/architecture and www.farmmresearch.com .

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