Tim Fu uses artificial intelligence to turn crumpled paper into star-studded architectural buildings
Designer Tim Vu used LookX, an AI tool trained in architecture, to transform crushed paper into building models that evoke the designs of architects Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.
The LookX platform, which has just launched, is an Artificial Intelligence Generated Content (AIGC) tool designed specifically for “architecture enthusiasts.”
LookX said it was trained on an architectural database called ArchiNet and was equipped with industry semantics and annotations.
“By integrating multimedia and self-developed algorithms, the large model can be used more widely in architecture,” the company added.
The fact that it is trained in architecture sets LookX apart from existing AI tools, according to Fu.
“Because it is specifically trained on architecture models, it has much greater capabilities in producing final results and an engineering solution, unlike what you would normally get from Midjourney, DALL-E or Stable Diffusion so far,” Fu told Dezeen.
Fu used LookX to design a series of buildings using a visual vector of crumpled paper, which was based on the “compressed brown paper bag” building designed by engineer Gehry for UTS Business School and the episode of The Simpsons TV series that referenced it.
“It came (from) knowing that there was a legacy of Jerry’s worn-out paper design, and the Simpsons episode immortalized that aspect; that was in the back of my head,” he said.
“But I also wanted to show how AI can interpret the randomness of inputs to produce highly accurate results, and thus showcase how the stark contrast between whim and intention can play a role in design.”
Fu, who has worked extensively in the field of artificial intelligence and conducts research collaborations with LookX, created designs similar to those by Gehry as well as designs by architecture studios Zaha Hadid Architects, SANAA, OMA, and Santiago Calatrava.
Designs are made using LookX’s flexible Explore mode, which allows users to choose foundations and pattern templates, upload images, enter keywords, and adjust control parameters.
“This particular model was my use of one of the LoRA (low-rank adaptation) models,” Fu said. “They are home-grown sets of machine learning algorithms, in addition to their core algorithms, that you can choose from within LoRA’s crowd-sourced set of models.”
“Then I chose a model that was specifically trained for architectural models, wood, acrylic, and the entire database is trained on that,” he added.
“I attached this form to the main form, and then I created these images based on the image input, images of wrinkled leaves.”
LookX has three core modules: Inspiration Generator, Model Training, and Sharing Community. Users can train their own AI models and then share them on the platform.
Fu also used LookX to create visual images of architectural models based on drawings and block, as well as block-based renderings.
According to the designer, the closest existing AI platform is Stable Diffusion, but he said the quality is not comparable.
“The closest thing we have is Stable Diffusion ControlNet, where you can input the geometry of the image and be able to pick out the outlines,” he said.
“From the lines, an image result is generated with a stable spread, which is not unlike what we do here with this LookX algorithm, but it has poor quality output.”
Fu referred to LookX as a “mid-flight killer for the architecture industry,” saying he believes it will continue to evolve.
“I was absolutely fascinated by the accessibility of this because we really needed a Midjourney release for the architecture industry,” he said.
“It has a lot of potential, not only now but in the future, because it will go in a more sophisticated direction.”
A number of architecture studios are using AI in their work, including Zaha Hadid. In a roundtable discussion, its director Patrik Schumacher said the studio develops “most” projects using AI-generated images.
Architecture studio Hickock Cole recently unveiled images of a mixed-use building designed using ChatGPT that features a green roof and a swimming pool.
Photos courtesy of Tim Vu.
This article is part of Dezeen’s AItopia series, which explores the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on design, architecture and humanity, both now and in the future.