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Chandler Ahrens



Chandler Ahrens is an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis as well as a co-founder of Open Source Architecture (OSA), an international transdisciplinary collaboration developing research and commissioned projects. His focus is on the intersection of material investigations, environmental phenomena, and computational design processes. His teaching has been recognized with an Emerging Faculty Award from the Building Technology Educators Society. His work with OSA has received several AIA design awards, a Chicago Athenaeum New American Architecture Award, and is part of the permanent collection at the Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain in Orleans, France. He is the editor of “Instabilities and Potentialities, Notes on the Nature of Knowledge in Digital Architecture” (2019), co-curator and editor of the “Gen(h)ome Project” (2006), and co-chair and editor for the exhibition “Evolutive Means, ACADIA2010.” He was on the board of directors for ACADIA. Prior to OSA, Ahrens has worked for several large international architectural firms, including nine years as a senior project designer at Morphosis Architects, where he was responsible for notable builds such as the New Academic Building at Cooper Union in New York; Hypo-Alpe Adria bank in Udine, Italy; Emerson College in Los Angeles; the U.S. Embassy in London; and Phare Tower in Paris, France. He has been a visiting professor at the Confluence Institute for Innovation and Creative Strategies in Lyon, France, since its inception in 2014.

Featured Project

Catoptric Surface
Date: 2016-present
Partners: Department of Computer Science & Engineering, McKelvey School of Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis
This research project is a robotic façade system where each mirror rotates independently, controlled by a computer and electric motors to reflect daylight from the exterior deep within the building in precise locations. In this sense, each mirror can be considered to produce a pixel of daylight. The location of each pixel of light is determined by any raster-based image that is provided to the software. As each mirror rotates to reflect daylight onto a chosen location, it attempts to recreate a very low-resolution version of the input image. This prototype could be used to control specific practical quantities of daylight for varying needs, but also to generate atmospheric effects.

Featured Publication

Instabilities and Potentialities explores our post-digital culture to better understand its impact on theoretical discourse and design processes in architecture. The role of digital technologies and its ever-increasing infusion of information into the design process entails three main shifts in the way we approach architecture: its movement from an abstracted mode of codification to the formation of its image; the emergence of the informed object as a statistical model rather than a fixed entity; and the increasing porosity of the architectural discipline to other fields of knowledge. Instabilities and Potentialities aims to bridge theoretical and practical approaches in digital architecture.

Publication Details
Instabilities and Potentialities, Notes on the Nature of Knowledge in Digital Architecture
Editors: Chandler Ahrens and Aaron Sprecher
Routledge, 2019
274 Pages
ISBN 9781138583986

Additional Work by Chandler Ahrens

Interior perspective of a glossy white hallway with a window at the end. The walls have inset shelves with smooth divots, like a cave wall.

Rajeunir Black Caviar retail store, 2016

Location: Palm Desert, California
Partners: OSA & Studio Jantzen

Rajeunir Black Caviar in Palm Desert is the second store for the luxury dermatological products company. For this store, the client sought to develop their identity through a unique environment by creating individualized spaces carved out of the walls for each customer and smaller spaces are carved out for product placement. The challenge was to create a sense of intimacy and a little mystery in the relatively small sales area. The space is defined by a smooth, continuous surface that, when cut into, reveals that the surface has depth and a series of golden objects that begin to emerge, suggesting that there is more hiding within the depth of the walls than is first seen.

Exterior of a house with a white stucco wall projecting at unusual angles.

SlrSrf residence, 2012

Location: Culver City, California

Optimization of the roof as a solar receiving surface for net zero photovoltaic electrical production generates the form of the 450 square foot (42m2) addition and renovation of an existing house in Culver City, California. The rotation of the roof surface to maximize solar intensity creates an opportunity to thicken the north wall to place systems otherwise located in the attic space, allowing a much taller ceiling of the living spaces. A new stair is located between the addition and existing house that integrates the library shelving displaced by the stair.

Exterior rendering of a dark angular building with a staircase visible through windowed section.

Columbus State University Commerce and Technology Center addition

Location: Columbus, GA
Interior of a white space with a concrete floor and three white display shelves formed of layered boards with divots cut out of them to hold various bottles and small containers. Gold letters on the wall read "Rajeunir."

Rajeunir Black Caviar retail store

Location: Friendswood, Texas
Sophies bar 001

Sophies Artist Lounge

Location: St. Louis, MO
Viewfinder n elev 7140 cropped

View Finder

Location: 21c Museum Hotel St Louis