Two of Los Angeles's creative firms, Framestore, best known for their VFX work like Oscar winning Gravity, and architect Greg Lynn FORM, have partnered for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale as part of the US Pavilion's The Architectural Imagination.
Once renowned as a center for innovation and production, Detroit now faces the perils of a post industrial 21st century. Each featured design at the US Pavilion demonstrates the creativity and resourcefulness of architecture to address social and environmental issues by using four defunct sites in Detroit as inspiration.
The project, “Center for Fulfillment, Knowledge, and Innovation,” reimagines the Packard Plant: a historic 1.7 mile-long, abandoned automobile factory designed by foremost industrial architect of his day, Albert Kahn.
Packard Plant is a 3.2 million square foot complex, redesigned as a factory and fulfillment center for both things and ideas. The new building design, crafted by Greg Lynn FORM, is in response to robotic manufacturing, autonomous transportation, online retail and transport and the accelerated innovation in all three of these sectors.
Greg Lynn, professor at UCLA, first connected with Framestore through Creative Director (and architect) Ben West and the Architectural Masters program SUPRASTUDIO of which West has been a guest lecturer. West says, “engaging with people in other industries where there is overlap is critical to the creative process. It creates huge potential for discovery.”
Greg’s presentation of the design for the Biennale was developed with Framestore, using their extensive visual effects heritage and Ben’s Architectural background to create an abstract narrative exploring the themes of the project.
"As far as creativity is concerned I'm interested in convergence" explains West on the partnership. "Discovering ways to bring disparate ideas together to create something new and meaningful comes from having a diverse background. It enables you to draw those connections."
Framestore is increasingly bringing their craft to new mediums, or volumes as West describes: "Creativity and digital arts have volume. Framestore is about extending and integrating screens into the landscape so content isn't 'screen' on a screen rather it's a part of the environment as an
Lynn shares a similar ethos being lauded as one of Time Magazine's "most innovative people in the world for the 21st century” for combining the realities of design and construction with the speculative, theoretical and experimental.
Says Lynn, “We set ourselves two unique challenges in our response to the brief established by the United States Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. The first is the dialogue between the new proposal and the existing Packard Plant. In Venice during the opening week it was frequently remarked how well Framestore communicated the historic character of the site along with the new design elements. The second challenge was to bring to life the circulatory movement of goods and people across the over 1km long complex. The proposal is predicated on contemporary mobility and the design vocabulary of curving, twisting and folding volumes driven by the intelligent movement of autonomous forklifts, delivery trucks and drones. Framestore
expressed these new forms of circulation and motion both abstractly and realistically.”
Framestore animators, producers, and designers created the five-minute film which spans the entire 1.7 mile-long property to showcase the design and functionality including drone deliveries, autonomous car ports and university communities. The HoloLens application allows attendees at the Biennale to see high-definition holograms operating on top of the 3D printed model structure. Regarding the US Pavilion’s ambition to find solutions for 21st century industrialism West says,
"The challenge in making the transition is understanding the value of what defines a place while
allowing it to grow.”
“It's a challenge not only for Detroit but the world. We are facing rapid change in industry, environment and society. I'm excited to see how architecture and communication will play its part. How we work, live and interact in the course of this century is likely to be very different from
Framestore is an Oscar-winning creative studio that uses innovative talent and technology to
create high-end images for every platform. Framestore partners with clients ranging from Hollywood studios through to advertisers, ad agencies, production companies and video game developers. In addition to being recognised for its globally celebrated visual effects, Framestore has more recently made its name as an innovator in the digital space by focusing on the immersive engagement potential of interactive visual effects.