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Experimental Design

Christian Pecher

Christian Pecher is a transdisciplinary designer from Germany, dedicated to spatial experimentation working on the intersection of ecology, new technologies, interactivity and public engagement.

Originally trained as a creative technologist and interaction designer, he was working in the Advanced Experience Design Studio of Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart for several years, co-creating futuristic interaction and mobility concepts like the smart Vision EQ fortwo or the Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ.  

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Shapediver

Degree Details

School of Communication

Experimental Design

Despite his rather digital background, Christian’s interests and projects always draw him into the world of the analogue, to hands-on work with materials, the exploration of nature and space.

His work aims to revive this original connection to the physical, to focus on the experience associated with and yet integrates new technologies and media. Moreover, his projects are very much characterised by a narrative and participatory element, encourage experimentation and principles of Speculative Design.

The duet of theMEADOW and theGIANTS truly embodies this approach and constitutes two vivid spatial compositions, that speculate new concepts of urban design, public engagement, and cultivation of materials to educate and create awareness about more sustainable, flexible, and mindful approaches to building and living.

These spaces focus on the communal interaction with the growing plant, its yield, workmanship, and the related experience. The audience is able to witness its evolution, and is involved in the development and design through various points of contact.

To achieve this, the usual design and construction process is restructured and only framework conditions are set, in which the interaction between humans, plants and the environment can take place. At the outset only the available space is defined, prepared and the seeds of the respective plants are placed in previously calculated patterns. The site is then left to the public, whereby the visitor wittingly and unwittingly influences its development in form and function over the seasons and years.

Through the individual perception of mainly visual changes, one’s actions, or those of others, are reflected and encourage proactive participation in design and usage. 

Following this approach, an accesible urban reed bed in the centre of London (theMEADOW), and a cluster of growing bamboo structures in the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (theGIANTS), are speculated to communicate the potentials of grass based materials, and the use of crop plants in an urban context. 

theMEADOW • October 2022

TheMEADOW is a public space and urban reed farm in East London, that represents concepts of dynamic spatial design and reflects the interplay of city and nature.

To increase awareness of reed as a sustainable and locally occurring material, the Apex Junction of Old Street is redesigned and a 2565m2 public and accessible reed-bed, a framework and space for recreation, meeting, and knowledge created.

The plants, which are placed only once initially, create a botanically dynamic spatial sculpture that visualises and documents pedestrian traffic and interactions of its visitors over the seasons. An annually recurring process, that is comprehensible and enables the local audience to interfere and shape the space due to imagination, needs and time.

The communal harvested yield of each year is also used to produce modular seat and construction elements, sourcing and expanding its own infrastructure.

Medium:

Common Reed (Phragmites australis), Reclaimed Bricks

Size:

2565 m2
ArchitectureEcologyFuture of Urban LivingInformation DesignLand ArtLandscapeMaterial NarrativesPublic SpaceReedSpatial ExperienceSustainability

theOBJECTS — Modular seating and construction elements made out of the annually harvested yield, and built in workshops.

theFLOOR-PLAN — Grid based floor-plan that allows orientation and location despite the dynamic and annually changing appearance of the space. Furthermore seasonal events respond to current conditions and invite the audience to interact.

thePLANT

thePLANT — Simulation of annual development, based on growth behaviour data of Phragmites australis in the United Kingdom

theIMPACT

theIMPACT — Simulation of occurring motion patterns over the years (Grid-Element: 2B • Years: 2022 – 2025)

theTILES — Calculated floor-tiling that allows plants to grow and visitors to access. Despite using custom made tiles, reclaimed London Bricks are used, which also reflect the interplay between city and nature.

theHARVEST — Every October the annual communal harvest takes place. A big event, with celebrations and different workshops.

thePEOPLE — The area brings together a diverse audience, a mixture of cultures, professions, residents and commuters.

theLOCATION

theLOCATION — Modified road layout at Apex Junction, Old Street.

Medium:

Common Reed (Phragmites australis), Reclaimed Bricks

Size:

2565 m2
theMEADOW — Interactive parametric design model, that allows to simulate growth behaviour and impact of pedestrian traffic and interactions.
Since the specific development of these places has a very strong speculative element and is highly dependent on its changing external influences and time, computational and parametric design methods are used by the means of Grasshopper3D.

Medium:

Grasshopper 3D & Shapediver

Size:

https://app.shapediver.com/u/chrehcep

theSTORIES – 01 – The watch-post and the golden culm

theSTORIES – 02 – Oasis in the hissing stalks

Two fictional stories that give an insight into the overall experience and dynamics of the space

Material research and selection

First sketches of layout and shape

Digital sketch of final layout

Set-up of parametric model in Rhinoceros 3D

Set-up of parametric model in Rhinoceros 3D

Iterations and development in Rhinoceros 3D

Iterations and development in Rhinoceros 3D

Wire weaving of a reed-mat

Reed-bed along New River canal in North London

Visual programming of parametric model in Grasshopper 3D

Visual programming of parametric model in Grasshopper 3D

theGIANTS – July 2027

TheGIANTS is a proposal for three living and spatial bamboo structures, situated in the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, representing a testing ground for architectural research, education and material interaction.

To promote and research this sustainable, rapidly growing, and in western latitudes still very underestimated construction material, an area in the outskirts of the Garden is utilised to host three Guadua Bamboo colonies.

By means of a dynamic rope system, attached to emerging shoots, the growing culms are shaped into spatial self supporting structures, organically formed by the interactions of its visitors, or according to calculations of professionals.

Left in place or harvested as a whole, every other year sculpture-like pavilions are created that embody the information of its surrounding and time.

Medium:

Guadua Bamboo (Guadua Angustifolia), Rope, Metal

Size:

1052 m2

theSYSTEM — A system of winches and ropes, that is attached to selected shoots and allows to control the direction of growth

theOBJECTS — A set of modular net elements, that can be attached to the evolving structure, allows further interactions and additional ways to apply forces to the growing plant.

thePLANT

thePLANT — The species Guadua angustifolia is emerging in a beautiful circular pattern, that defines the basement of the structures. Originating from the once planted seeds, new culms always expanding in height and diameter till they reach their maximum growth height after 8 or 9 years.

theHARVEST

theHARVEST — After 1 or 2 years, the formed structures and sculptures can be harvested as a whole and relocated. Their unique forms embody information about their environment and reflect the past impact of space, time, climate and human influence.

theGROWTH

theGROWTH — Simulation of growth and shape in a period of 12 weeks (tropical conditions).

theLOCATION

theLOCATION — Location and layout at the outskirts of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, that plays with prevailing views.

theSHAPING

theSHAPING — Simulation and prototyping of plant shaping, to estimate statical properties and possible forms.

theFLOOR-PLAN — Orientation plan and events of the season.

Pictures of the physical and digital process.

Medium:

Guadua Bamboo (Guadua Angustifolia), Rope, Metal

Size:

1052 m2
Since the specific development of these places has a very strong speculative element and is highly dependent on its changing external influences and time, computational and parametric design methods are used by the means of Grasshopper3D.

Medium:

Grasshopper 3D & Shapediver

Size:

https://app.shapediver.com/u/chrehcep

theSTORIES – 01 – Wary steps of botanical 3D printer

theSTORIES – 02 – Impatient experiments and questionable eyes

Two fictional stories that give an insight into the overall experience and dynamics of the space
Meeting bamboo scientist Prof. em. Walter Liese in Hamburg

Meeting bamboo scientist Prof. em. Walter Liese in Hamburg

Temporary studio green-house to research growth behaviour of different bamboo species.

Adjustable "Tensegrity" structure model

Physical model to simulate growth and dynamic shape

Physical model to simulate growth and dynamic shape

Development and iterations in Rhinoceros 3D

Development and iterations in Rhinoceros 3D

Physical model to simulate connections and forms

Bamboo research in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Bamboo research in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Making of a matcha whisk according to traditional Japanese techniques

Making of a matcha whisk according to traditional Japanese techniques

Physical model of a self–supporting "Reciprocal Frame" structure

Pictures of the physical and digital process.

Medium:

Guadua Bamboo (Guadua Angustifolia), Rope, Metal

Size:

1052 m2
@chrehcep
Launch Project

@chrehcep

Thank you, and please follow or contact me for further information and updates on the continuing project.

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