Michael Hansmeyer is a German-born architect and programmer based in Switzerland. Distinguishing himself from the architecture world, Hansmeyer uses computer tools to create objects that are otherwise impossible to produce. 3D printing and computer algorithms are also involved to execute his projects. Some of these projects include a 3D printed grotto for Centre Pompidou and a pavilion for the 2017 Gwangju Design Biennale. Additionally, he has acted as a visiting professor to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and Southeast University in Nanjing, among others.
Most recently, Hansmeyer has collaborated with Factum Arte to create the opera set of Romeo Castellucci’s The Magic Flute / Die Zauberflöte, presented at the Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie de Munt in Brussels. The Magic Flute is one of Mozart’s most famous works and one of the most beloved of the entire operatic repertoire. The director Romeo Castellucci has deliberately stepped back from the narrative dimension of the opera in order to explore its raw emotion and its philosophical heart.
The making of the opera set
Before being milled, the Factum design team created a 3D model to predict the outcome. It is composed of nine elements in total: four pieces were suspended five or six meters above the floor, while the other five are mobile across the base of the structure. Due to its size, it was crucial to divide each of these nine elements so the opera house could be transported.
In the early stages of the project, the Factum team had to convert a high-resolution geometry model into a giant physical object. The geometry model was created with a custom algorithm programmed by Michael Hansmeyer himself.
Next, each component was produced by a 6-axis robot milling extension and 5-axis CNC milling machine at the Factum Arte headquarters. Again, the size of the opera house presented difficulties causing this phase to take two complete months.
Retouching the milled piece at the workshop © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte
Mixing resins at the workshop © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte
The second phase of developing The Magic Flute’s set was the assembly of the piece and inclusion of a stabilizing aluminum structure, which holds every piece together.
At Factum Arte's workshop © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte
Finally, each piece, made from high-density EPS, was coated in a spray to maintain detail and layers of resin and glossy white paint. The Magic Flute resulted in an enormous piece, with a total height of 10 meters, width of 12 meters, and depth of nearly 8 meters.