NYC Pulse


The project is a 2-minute animation evidencing Manhattan’s “pulse” between Work in Wall Street and Play,around 5th Avenue. Both places experience picks of activity alternatively throughout the day: morning commutes of white collars in the business district in the morning, and rush hour of the nightlife around 5th avenue at 8 PM. Through the usage of Uber’s drop-off data for 2016, Stanislas Chaillou illustrates how understanding and quantifying cities activity is within-reach for architects and urban planners. At the same this work opens the door to the larger question of planning in age of increased mobility and Big Data: As the traffic in the streets intensifies, how could/should the built environment react? How could/should mobility data and its analysis inform our designs?


Who influences you graphically?

My graphic style stems from a blend of the contemporary Japanese architecture graphical expression, and data visualization, best exemplified by the MIT Senseable Lab’s work. My belief is that simple analytics merged with simple and powerful architecture will revolution our definition of the built environment. Through multiple work at ETH and Harvard, I have tried to evidence this encounter between these two worlds apparently so different, and yet so complementary. My projects’ architectural expression stands on the edge between these two influences:  architectural minimalism, and digital expressionism.

What defines the approach through which you choose to reveal/explore an architectural proposal?

For me, architecture should be judge on its ability to answer society’s expectation, while understanding its geographical, historical and social context. For this project, as I offer a new paradigm for our built environment, the architectural proposal unfolds in three steps, from historical precedents, to societal changes, to finally offer a definition and design of a synaptic built environment.

From a graphical stand point, each step of the proposal is supported by GIF animations. As I offer a new definition of a time-based urban environment, animated GIFs are able express the richness and complexity of dynamic phenomenons through animated image sequences.

How have your work experiences affected your academic work/ how you operate as an architect now?

My past work experience at Shigeru Ban Architects, a Tokyo-based architecture practice, and Flux Data Inc, a tech company based in San Francisco, have taught me the importance of challenging traditional knowledge from our discipline through technology. From structure scripting at Shigeru Ban’s office, to the development of software tools at Flux, I have come to realize that a high-level understanding of computer science principles could help me enhance my designs. Far from merely speeding up the design process, computer science is an open door to new profound changes for our discipline. The Synaptic Building, I design in this project stems from possibilities that only the ubiquity and scalability of programming can offer.

What is your take on the medium of the animation?

Animation is the medium of time representation. If anything, films or simply GIFs can convey phenomenon that happen overtime, and that solely an animated sequence can achieve. As the Synaptic Building evolves throughout the day, the week or the year, animations are the ideal tool to represent its morphism, or in other words the successive steps of its evolution through time.

What programs did you use for the Synaptic Building? What defined the use of black and red coloring?

The design of the Synaptic building required two major steps, that digital tools helped me tackle. First, defining the movement of parts in the building, or how furniture, retail and partitions would be moved through time necessitated the development of meaningful insight. To do so, I used Python, a standard programming language for data science, to develop tools that would enable to gather information on the surrounding of my building, understand the pulse of the neighborhood, to finally simulate traffics and occupancy logs. From their I could simulate the movement of parts in my building, thanks to grasshopper and basic C# scripting.

In a second time, to represent the building itself, I used at first quite standard tools: plans in Rhinoceros, renders in Vray, post-processing in Photoshop. However, as my design was dynamic, and I had ot find a way to convey the idea of space flexibility, I turned to After Effects to produce animations and GIFs that could best express the “choreography” of parts in my design. The color black and red were used in these animations to differentiates between the infrastructure (in black), and the activity and users (in red).


Stanislas is an architecture master candidate at Harvard University. He has previously worked for international renowned offices such as Shigeru Ban Architect, and Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill. He recently won the American Architecture Prize (student category), for his project “Our Lady of the Fields”.

Stanislas is also a Fulbright scholar, an Arthur Sachs Fellow and Jean Gaillard Fellow at Harvard University.