Tim Fu uses artificial intelligence to turn crumpled paper into starchitecting building plans

Designer Tim Fu used LookX, an architecture-trained AI tool, to transform crushed paper into building models that evoke the designs of architects Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

The newly launched LookX platform is an Artificial Intelligence Generated Content (AIGC) tool designed especially for the “architecture lover”.

Crumpled paper used as an AI prompt
Top image: A building designed by artificial intelligence in the style of SANAA. Above: Tim Fu used crumpled paper in multiple ways as a tip for the LookX AI tool

It is trained on an architectural database called ArchiNet and has been “equipped with [the] industry semantics and annotations,” said LookX.

“By integrating multimodality and self-developed algorithms, the large model can be used more widely in architecture,” the company added.

Frank Gehry AI building made from crumpled paper
One building was designed using Frank Gehry’s suggestion

The fact that it’s trained on the architecture sets LookX apart from existing artificial intelligence (AI) tools, according to Zaha Hadid’s designer Fu.

“Because he’s trained specifically on architecture models, he has a lot more capability in producing finished results and solved geometries, as opposed to what you’d normally get from Midjourney or DALL-E or Stable Diffusion even right now,” Fu told Dezeen.

Zaha Hadid building made with crumpled paper
Another building was designed in the style of Zaha Hadid

Fu used LookX to design a series of buildings using a visual cue of crumpled paper, which he drew on both architect Gehry’s “crushed brown paper bag” building for UTS Business School and an episode of the TV series The Simpsons referencing it.

“It [came from] knowing there is a legacy to Gehry’s crumbling paper design, and the episode of The Simpsons immortalized that aspect; it was in the back of my head,” he said.

“But I also wanted to show how the arbitrariness of an input can be interpreted by AI to produce very refined results, thus showing how the stark contrast between whim and intention can both play a role in design.”

Crumpled paper used as an AI architecture prompt for LookX
Fu has worked extensively in AI

Fu, who has worked extensively in artificial intelligence and is collaborating on research with LookX, created designs that resembled those of Gehry and those of architectural firms Zaha Hadid Architects, SANAA, OMA and Santiago Calatrava.

The designs were created using LookX’s flexible Explore mode, which allows users to choose style bases and templates, upload images, enter keywords and adjust control parameters.

“That particular model was me using one of the LoRAs [low-rank adaptation] models,” Fu said. “They are localized clusters of machine learning algorithms, in addition to their core algorithms, that you can select from the pool of crowdsourced LoRA models.”

OMA-design AI made with crumpled paper
He also created an AI-generated design using the OMA prompt

“Then I selected the one specially trained for architecture, wood, acrylic models; the whole database is trained on that,” he added.

“I attached that model to the master model, then generated these images based on image input only, photos of the crumpled papers.”

LookX has three main 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 sketch and massing-based architectural model images, as well as massing-based renderings.

Calatrava-design based on crumpled paper
Santiago Calatrava’s designs inspired another building

According to the designer, the closest existing AI platform is Stable Diffusion, but he argued that the quality is not comparable.

“The closest thing we have is the Stable Diffusion ControlNet, where you input the geometry of the image and it’s able to find the edges,” he said.

“From the outlines, it generates a Stable Diffusion image result, which is no different than what we do here with this LookX algorithm, but has a lower quality output.”

Crumpled piece of paper used for the AI ​​prompt
The LookX platform allows users to upload images to use as a prompt

Fu called LookX “the Midjourney killer for the architecture industry,” saying he believes it will continue to develop.

“I was completely intrigued by the potential of where this is going because we really needed a Midjourney release for the architecture industry,” he said.

“It has so much potential, not just in the present but also in the future, because it’s just going to go in a much more developed direction.”

AI-design made with crumpled paper
Another drawing by Zaha Hadid informed by another crumpled paper

A number of architectural firms have used AI in their work, including Zaha Hadid. In a panel discussion, its principal Patrik Schumacher said the studio is developing “most” of the projects using images generated by artificial intelligence.

Architecture firm Hickock Cole recently unveiled images of a mixed-use building designed using ChatGPT that features a green roof and swimming pool.

Images are courtesy of Tim Fu.


AItopia
Illustration by Selina Yau

AItopia

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.


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