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Part 2 Project 2002
Achim Menges
Architectural Association London UK
The main concern of my “Postagriculture” project is to rethink agro-production in the Netherlands towards an inclusive and responsive organisation which is essential for an environmentally and socially sustainable food production. In order to allow agriculture to transform itself into a highly integrated, mutable, vital urban programme an inclusive strategy is set up and tested as a tactical insertion on the regional scale of Westland. Being the biggest Dutch greenhouse growing area allocated between Rotterdam and The Hague, Westland is a regional focal point of the increasing pressure on the Dutch landscape. Therefore my strategy promotes the further intensification of the already existing agricultural production within close proximity to densely populated cities hybridised with a public recreation domain. This hybridisation becomes pressure responsive by a field of inter-systemic negotiations evolved from the investigation of specific intra-systemic conditions of agricultural production and recreation activities. My project deploys a differentiated layered pneumatic structure in order to facilitate and regulate a dynamic micro-climatic organisation. The type and treatment of the surface material regulates light, temperature and smell conditions over time. A combined digital form-finding, structural analysis and cutting-pattern deriving software facilitated the design of the differential pneumatic structure. Through this approach the project provides for varied and dynamic micro-climatic conditions that suit agro-production and leisure activities with similar requirements in each sub-location of the deep structure. This constitutes a shift from an exclusive and static unit-based architecture to an mutable, performative condition-based environment.
Achim Menges

Achim's project entitled "Postagriculture" located in Westland - the largest green-house and horticultural production area in The Netherlands – evolved along three primary design problems: 1. an intensification of agro-production in The Netherlands and its cross-programming with leisure activities needed in the Rotterdam and The Hague region; 2. the shift from a spatial-unit based architecture to a condition-based architecture that operates through regulating time-based micro-climates as a way of providing for multiple use over time; 3. the development of a differentiated responsive pneumatic structure and the demonstration of its performative characteristics in order to facilitate a condition-based architecture. In recognising the need of such a complex scheme to arise from an inter-disciplinary collaborative discourse Achim Menges developed his project through a website that allowed simultaneous feedback with the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, the Delta Park research teams, animal rights organisations, leading engineers and various other experts. Achim's coherent and synergistic approach to satisfying complex local program requirements through regulating micro-climates by means of a structural and material agenda that focuses on a highly performative architecture was demonstrated through test models, prototypes and digital form-finding, modelling and simulation methods. A pneumatic prototype is currently in production. We nominated this project in the sincere believe that this project combines a high-level research endeavour with ambition and pragmatism and a seductive and convincing design solution in a manner that goes way beyond the scope of a diploma project and promises further exciting research in this field by this highly commendable student.

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