Architectural forms as complex as snowflakes? Here’s what they look like up close

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Architect Michael Hansmeyer is not one for the T-square. As he explains in a fascinating talk from TEDGlobal, this “computational” designer took inspiration from nature — specifically from morphogenesis, aka the splitting of cells — and created algorithms that help him design highly unusual shapes. Instead of the same old boring Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns that have been around since ancient Greece, Hansmeyer’s columns contain fascinating folds, curves and cuts — more akin to the snowflakes you made in elementary school than to traditional architectural forms.

And yes, Hansmeyer actually builds these works — in fact, the column to the left was on display at TEDGlobal 2012. Check it out above.

Below, more of Hansmeyer’s out of the box every-shape-we-know creations.


Four columns, designed using Hansmeyer’s algorithmic process.

Here’s what a hall filled with Hansmeyer’s columns would look like.

An observer checks out the strange details of a column at ETH Zurich.

A close-up of the column’s structure, taken at TEDGlobal.

An architectural pavilion designed by simplifying Hansmeyer’s process.

More shapes made through Hansmeyer’s algorithms.

Photos: TEDGlobal photos by Ryan Lash. All other images are courtesy of Michael Hansmeyer. See much, much more at his website,