German Architect Sebastian Nuesslein, who practices in Frankfurt, belongs to a breed of avant-garde designers that merge the virtual with the physical as he envisions fluent spaces where cars and other products can be exhibited. He does this using form•Z, to which he was first introduced 20 years ago, when he was granted a one-year scholarship to attend Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, Canada. The application and its multi-facetted capabilities have helped him evolve from the originally fresh-out-of-school highly disciplined designer to one that loves to take advantage of the digital tools to explore visual undertakings that delve into curvy structures mixed with lights and virtually projected schemes.
We asked him why he is so fond of form•Z and how the application contributes to the quality of his designs. Here is what he said: “In 1996, I somehow got my hands on form•Z (I think it was version 2.9) and installed it onto a “pizza box” look-alike called Apple PowerPC 6100. I immediately knew this was the tool for me and I have since kept using it (in spite of some ups and downs) as my favorite “creative” tool. During the early years, I used form•Z on distinct stages of a project, such as to derive architectural concepts, to produce renderings using RenderZone, to prepare competition designs, to unfold volumes for building physical models, to do mass calculations, to do shadow/sun analyses, etc.
More recently, starting with version 7.0, my use of form•Z has shifted and the application has become the ‘control center’ of my projects. That is, it offers me the ability to keep on using the same tool from the early conceptual stages all the way through the stages where construction drawings are produced and a project is actually being built. This is a major strength of form•Z. In addition, its ability to import and ‘digest’ all sorts of CAD formats one is confronted with during a project is a tremendous help. In today’s practice, a file is so often going back and forth during the progress of a project, with design changes and revisions that need to be communicated accurately, that robust importing and exporting is of a major importance. form•Z excels in all this.
The evolution of the digital tools has helped the architectural practice to also evolve. These days, working remotely is almost the rule. Face-to-face meetings have been replaced with teleconferences and digital drawings being emailed over great distances. This makes it even more important to have reliable and robust 3D models capable of expressing the fluent trends of today’s tastes.
As an example let me refer to the last IAA (2015) Mercedes stage design (right and below), which demonstrates form•Z’s ability to accommodate these contemporary trends. The concept of the "kinetic stage" was modeled, it was previewed, textured, and animated using the full OpenGL. This allowed us to successfully communicate the spatial concept and kinetic elements. The model was further refined to develop accurate dimensions and to position the 60m driving LED and kinetic LED doors, and to also check for collisions with steel supports, lighting, sound equipment etc. During this process files were exchanged back and forth with our planning partners and builders. The project involved designing a functional backstage area and a two story high steel structure for car storage as an integral part of the stage design.
The form•Z model also served as a basis for generating a partial show with live people and 15 cars driving around. It was exported so that the pixel mapping for LED tiles could be defined for the videos of the show. It was also exported a couple of times for making high gloss renderings. It was used to define the area where a spider-cam would fly inside the venue, to define the cable routing, to check for collisions, etc. It was used to define the virtual space backdrop coordinates for the spider-cam VR-video overlay. It was used to estimate the weight of steel construction and the amounts of LED tiles, and to calculate surfaces in square meters to estimate cost, define lengths of cables and more.Admittedly it some times takes trials and errors before you can get it done. Yet, what I really like about form•Z is that it is so ‘permissive’ in building all sorts of solid geometry and shapes. Of course, on top of all this, what I really love about form•Z is that I have a tool that inspires me and I enjoy using …”
All models modeled in form•Z by Sebastian Nuesslein.
Photos courtesy of Atelier Markgraph:
Mercedes-Benz_IAA 2015 Kinetik Stage: Photo Andreas Keller
Mercedes-Benz_IAA 2015 Kinetik Stage VR Overlay: Photo NSYNC
WMF_Ambiente 2015: Photo Kristof Lemp
Mercedes-Benz_IAA 2013 Stage: Photo Sebastian Nuesslein
Mercedes Petronas_F1 Motorhome 2010: Photo Ambrosius
About Sebastian Nuesslein
After the year in Canada he returned to the University of Frankfurt equipped with his newly found digital tools and after graduation, worked in three different architectural offices, where he pretty much introduced form•Z and was frequently in demand to demonstrate its capabilities. He eventually established a long-term relationship with Frankfurt based communications agency, Atelier Markgraph. There he has been the lead designer and architect for many projects over the past 15 years. They have included stage designs, exhibitions, museums, and numerous competition submissions. In parallel he has been teaching form•Z at colleges to the extent his work schedule permits it. One can see the plethora of his work at www.nuesslein.com.