RISING STARS 2017 COHORT
Part 2: 2008 Part 3: 2011
Arthur Mamou-Mani is a French-born architect who came to the UK ‘to follow in the footpath of the great high-tech and ground-breaking architects, such as Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid’. He graduated from the Architectural Association in 2008 at the height of recession – in common with many of this year’s shortlist. His difficulties in finding a job made him question the validity of architecture business models, especially compared with young coders who can self-initiate a company with angel investments.
Mamou-Mani set off in his own direction using the knowledge of digital fabrication and parametric modelling he had acquired at the AA. In 2011 he founded Mamou-Mani Architects, a firm that specialises in digitally designed and fabricated architecture, then he set up a digital fabrication laboratory named Fab.Pub in Hackney.
It is this ‘enormous amount of energy’ that caught the judges’ attention. By giving designers access to the technologies of both coding and making, Mamou-Mani has helped break down the barriers between architects and related professions such as contractors, engineers and designers in other fields.
One of Mamou-Mani’s first opportunities to act as entrepreneur-maker was The Magic Garden, the RIBA Regent Street Windows project for Karen Millen in 2013. It won the Crown Estate Award and raised profits at the flagship store 20% by attracting more visitors.
Karen Millen has since created a dress inspired by Mamou-Mani’s original piece and commissioned the firm on five further schemes. The project inspired a passer-by who commissioned the practice to design a hotel for the space tourists of Virgin Galactic as well. Mamou-Mani has also been working on open-source software, Silkworm, that sends information to 3D printers directly from Curve plug-in. The tool has helped push 3D printing to its limits.
Before founding the practice, Mamou-Mani worked with Atelier Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid Architects and Proctor and Matthews Architects. In a short time Mamou-Mani has gained enormous traction with high-profile clients, which impressed the judges. ‘The work is both sculptural and mathematical, a combination that is difficult to do well,’ notes Mark Skelly.
What would you most like to improve about the industry?
I want colleagues to not be afraid of the future, but fully embrace it. New technologies such as robotics can positively break barriers between professions. Projects can become products and the countless hours we spend on R&D can bring royalties. I want to empower new architects by teaching them about entrepreneurship and fabrication.
What existing building or place would you most like to tackle?
Airports – the cathedrals of our time. I believe new kinds of airports will emerge in the near future; with the rise of drones, spacecraft, airships and hyperloops, we will travel further and faster. Airports will be the connection point for all these types of circulation. They will be more central, vertical and larger. It will be fascinating to see how digital fabrication will impact transportation; structural trusses will self-generate, be 3D printed or robotically assembled to achieve fully adaptable envelopes.