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As an architect, I often ask myself, what is the origin of the forms that we design? What kind of forms could we design if we wouldn't work with references anymore? If we had no bias, if we had no preconceptions, what kind of forms could we design if we could free ourselves from our experience? If we could free ourselves from our education? What would these unseen forms look like? Would they surprise us? Would they intrigue us? Would they delight us? If so, then how can we go about creating something that is truly new?

I propose we look to nature. Nature has been called the greatest architect of forms. And I'm not saying that we should copy nature, I'm not saying we should mimic biology, instead I propose that we can borrow nature's processes. We can abstract them and to create something that is new. Nature's main process of creation, morphogenesis, is the splitting of one cell into two cells. And these cells can either be identical, or they can be distinct from each other through asymmetric cell division.

If we abstract this process, and simplify it as much as possible, then we could start with a single sheet of paper, one surface, and we could make a fold and divide the surface into two surfaces. We're free to choose where we make the fold. And by doing so, we can differentiate the surfaces. Through this very simple process, we can create an astounding variety of forms.

Now, we can take this form and use the same process to generate three-dimensional structures, but rather than folding things by hand, we'll bring the structure into the computer, and code it as an algorithm. And in doing so, we can suddenly fold anything. We can fold a million times faster, we can fold in hundreds and hundreds of variations.

And as we're seeking to make something three-dimensional, we start not with a single surface, but with a volume. A simple volume, the cube. If we take its surfaces and fold them again and again and again and again, then after 16 iterations, 16 steps, we end up with 400,000 surfaces and a shape that looks, for instance, like this. And if we change where we make the folds, if we change the folding ratio, then this cube turns into this one. We can change the folding ratio again to produce this shape, or this shape.

So we exert control over the form by specifying the position of where we're making the fold, but essentially you're looking at a folded cube. And we can play with this. We can apply different folding ratios to different parts of the form to create local conditions. We can begin to sculpt the form.

And because we're doing the folding on the computer, we are completely free of any physical constraints. So that means that surfaces can intersect themselves, they can become impossibly small. We can make folds that we otherwise could not make. Surfaces can become porous. They can stretch. They can tear. And all of this expounds the scope of forms that we can produce.

But in each case, I didn't design the form. I designed the process that generated the form. In general, if we make a small change to the folding ratio, which is what you're seeing here, then the form changes correspondingly.

But that's only half of the story — 99.9 percent of the folding ratios produce not this, but this, the geometric equivalent of noise. The forms that I showed before were made actually through very long trial and error. A far more effective way to create forms, I have found, is to use information that is already contained in forms.

I propose we look to nature. Nature has been called the greatest architect of forms. And I'm not saying that we should copy nature, I'm not saying we should mimic biology, instead I propose that we can borrow nature's processes. We can abstract them and to create something that is new. Nature's main process of creation, morphogenesis, is the splitting of one cell into two cells. And these cells can either be identical, or they can be distinct from each other through asymmetric cell division.

If we abstract this process, and simplify it as much as possible, then we could start with a single sheet of paper, one surface, and we could make a fold and divide the surface into two surfaces. We're free to choose where we make the fold. And by doing so, we can differentiate the surfaces. Through this very simple process, we can create an astounding variety of forms.

Now, we can take this form and use the same process to generate three-dimensional structures, but rather than folding things by hand, we'll bring the structure into the computer, and code it as an algorithm. And in doing so, we can suddenly fold anything. We can fold a million times faster, we can fold in hundreds and hundreds of variations.

And as we're seeking to make something three-dimensional, we start not with a single surface, but with a volume. A simple volume, the cube. If we take its surfaces and fold them again and again and again and again, then after 16 iterations, 16 steps, we end up with 400,000 surfaces and a shape that looks, for instance, like this. And if we change where we make the folds, if we change the folding ratio, then this cube turns into this one. We can change the folding ratio again to produce this shape, or this shape.

So we exert control over the form by specifying the position of where we're making the fold, but essentially you're looking at a folded cube. And we can play with this. We can apply different folding ratios to different parts of the form to create local conditions. We can begin to sculpt the form.

And because we're doing the folding on the computer, we are completely free of any physical constraints. So that means that surfaces can intersect themselves, they can become impossibly small. We can make folds that we otherwise could not make. Surfaces can become porous. They can stretch. They can tear. And all of this expounds the scope of forms that we can produce.

But in each case, I didn't design the form. I designed the process that generated the form. In general, if we make a small change to the folding ratio, which is what you're seeing here, then the form changes correspondingly.

But that's only half of the story — 99.9 percent of the folding ratios produce not this, but this, the geometric equivalent of noise. The forms that I showed before were made actually through very long trial and error. A far more effective way to create forms, I have found, is to use information that is already contained in forms.

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