This is architecture as memento mori: a portal to the Underworld, where the subterranean speaks to the subconscious, earthly Self. Here, petrified organic traces and worm-eaten trails meander across the larger framework of stone courses, punctuating the overall façade. ‘Ruin’ reveals biographical narrative, manipulated into decorative pattern making. These organic forms are a rich counterpoint to the blank stare and glazed slickness of many contemporary buildings, where the viewer’s gaze is bounced off the surface through reflection, locked out of any real engagement with an architecture that, as such, remains impenetrable. [...] They are a 21st century architectural Vanitas, speaking of life, death, dirt and time.
Adam Lowe and Charlotte Skene Catling
London and Madrid, February 2018
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In 2017, architect Charlotte Skene Catling and Factum Arte began experimenting with a new language of vermiculated rustication.
In architecture, rustication is a masonry technique most famous for its use during 16th-century Italian Renaissance (notably in examples like Palazzo Caprini, Rome and Palazzo Te, Mantua), where roughly-cut stones contrast with smooth, squared-block masonry, creating contrasts and textures in the surface. Among the different types of rustication, one of the most interesting is the so-called "vermiculation" variant - from the Latin vermiculus or 'little worm' - where dense worm-like patterns are used to subtly but vividly carve the surface of the rough stone.
In Factum Arte, the irregular nature of vermiculation patterns fascinated the team of 3D experts, who began researching on ways to adapt organic forms into vermiculated patterns. Alan Turing's research on patterns, published in the 1952 'The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis', acted as a fundamental starting point for Factum's Jorge Cano to create a software able to generate infinite and tileable depthmaps that could be later used as base to merge 3D modeling and photogrammetry.
The depthmap was elevated in 3D using ZBrush © Factum Arte
A number of objects was recorded in high-resolution with the Lucida 3D Scanner or photogrammetry to provide shapes: fragments of dead coral, desert roses, honeycombs, wind-eroded stone and wood were 3D-modeled in ZBrush by Irene Gaumé following the generated depthmap as a background pattern to create the final 3D models.
The final 3D model before being elaborated as a height map © Factum Arte
The final models were CNC-routed on limestone panels after elaborating them as height maps, in order to translate the complex renders on a 2.5 dimensional surface that could nevertheless capture the deep contrasts, shadows and carvings of the patterns.
The final 3D models were CNC-routed on limestone panels © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte
Various finished panels © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte
The Rusticated surface is intended to respond to the farther and time in ways that add to its character. As dirt accumulates, there will be the potential for growth and snow or rain will alter the look of the surface in different ways. The surface is animated by shadow and looks very different at various times of day and night.