Raiser from the Ground
The Raiser from the Ground project was conceived and constructed by Michael on the threshold between the mechanical and the bio-inspired.
In response to the self-assigned brief ‘raising from the ground against the everlasting force of gravity’ Michael designed this soft machine as a physiological system where, based on hydraulic principles, liquids are transferred between various pulvinus joints. The expansion or contraction of these joints effectively converts weight and pressure of liquids into motion, enabling the soft machine to erect, interfold, maintain its balance or seek a specific posture.
The project is a symbolic reflection on the fundamental dilemmas of transformable architectural structures. As the soft machine (as machine-human body-architecture-hermaphrodite) actively counteract the effects of gravity it suggests a type of architecture that is inherently unstable, non-static and morphologically dynamic.
Already Heinrich Wölfflin contemplated our corporeal weakness in relation to architecture in that ‘we can appreciate the noble serenity of a column’ only because we understand gravity, that is, because we have all ‘collapsed to the ground when we no longer had the strength to resist the downward pull of our bodies.’ (1) Whenever architectures – or parts of architecture – are designed to be dynamic, gravity will inescapably have a mechanically and kinetically destabilising effect on the structure.
The project further addresses fundamental design criteria of architecture – its relation to the ground. Ground, in this project, is symbolised by the timber elements. The way the soft machine connects to the ground is contemplated through the design of the machine’s connection and articulation morphology.
Latex, sea shell, gut string, timber, steel, brass, silicone, swell gel, water
(1) Wölfflin 1999  (also in ‘Architecture of the Senses’ in Mallgrave 2010, 201)