STUDIO AIR 2018, SEMESTER 2, ISABELLE SEZEN SMRDELJ, 698662
CONTENTS PART A. CONCEPTUALISATION A.1 Design Futuring A.2 Design Computation A.3 Composition & Generation A.4 Conclusion A.5 Learning Outcomes A.6 Appendix
1.DESIGN FUTURING Architecture that contributes to cultural and disciplinary discourse is integral to the continuation of anthropocenes. Fry discusses unsustainable practices spurred by material processing and extraction innovation as being highly threatening to our future.1 These anthropocentric practices make the future insecure for all living species, and thus, design must act in a way to preserve the future. In this way, designing with the future in mind necessitates a resulting discourse that encourages others of alternative methods of living and being. The Ise Shrine located in Japan is a 1300 year-old example of design futuring in its methods of material cultivation and construction practices. The shrine undergoes complete reconstruction every twenty years on a different site in order to maintain traditional Japanese construction methods, craftsmanship and ensure the procurement of local building materials.2 Technical workflows in the construction of the Ise Shrine greatly differ from western practices in their ritualistic showing of gratitude towards nature and an apologetic mindset for the harm that workers are causing towards it. These rituals are reinforced by the twenty year reconstruction used to replenish sourced materials. Further, the shrine is less about its final built form, with materials used for construction being highly traditional and seen as necessary, although only sourced from where it is most readily available.3
Indeed, the hundreds of rituals integral to the construction of this sacred shrine are its most important factor; necessity is seen in the transferral of traditional practices onto new generations to ensure these practices are appreciated and continued long into the future, as its ancient past suggests is likely. Future possibilities are expanded through the cultivation of locally-sourced resources which are constantly replenished due to the ephemeral nature of the site The shrine provides an enormous contribution to its construction workers, craftsmen and visitors, as it has for 1300 years in which it has never lost value The site is heralded for its reconstruction tradition and indeed encourages a discourse on alternative methods of living, as design futuring should. Archigram provide another example of design futuring with their published, unbuilt works. Their “printed page” architecture allowed them to ignore traditional spatial limitations of built design, and allowed for the free creativity of their future-oriented designs.4 All elements in their collages act in a way to defy built form, explaining nothing of their designs, but everything suggesting a future highly different from the current way of being. Their images depict a fully adaptable future that is able to overcome all obstacles posed by unsustainability. This experimental form of architecture, without form, expands future possibilities in a way that asserts that the future is indeed insecure and thus, any design moving forward should be highly adaptable.
1. Tony Fry, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, (Oxford: Berg, 2008), p.1 2. Cassandra Adams, ‘Japan’s Ise Shrine and its Thirteen-Hundred-Year-Old Reconstruction Tradition’, Journal of Architectural Education, 52 (1998), p.49 3. Cassandra Adams, ‘Japan’s Ise Shrine and its Thirteen-Hundred-Year-Old Reconstruction Tradition’, Journal of Architectural Education, 52 (1998), p.50 4. Socratis Yiannoudes, ‘The Archigram Vision in the Context of Intelligent Environments and Its Current Potential’, 7th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, (2011), p.108 4
FIG.1 & 2: ISE SHRINE
FIG.3: ARCHIGRAM CONCEPTUALISATION 5
FIG.4: ISE SHRINE
FIG.5: ARCHIGRAM PLUG IN UNIVERSITY
2.DESIGN COMPUTATION Computation in architecture is redefining practice and providing opportunities to designers in all stages of design, fabrication and construction that were once never available.5 Computation must be differentiated from the computerisation of traditional design practices in the way that it allows designers to approach complex situations through the manipulation of datasets of information. Using algorithms, that is, instructions used to solve problems raised by design, unimaginable outcomes can be created which can then be explored further where they may have never come to light using a traditional design process.6 According to Douglas Engelbart, computing is augmenting human intellect by increasing an individual’s capability to approach a problem. Further, computing allows for the solutions to these complex problems.7 Engelbart depicts an image of an architect aided by computation in which he is able to input a set of rules, or algorithms, allowing a building to effectively design itself. This echoes design futuring in that built form is of less importance than rules required for optimal function. In this way, computing is used to completely redefine practice and dismiss traditional drafting and computerisation. The humanly inconceivable designs and geometries produced by computerisation can then be worked to be made achievable through fabrication.
Neri Oxman utilises computing and its rule driven design process in her project ‘Mushtari’. The design effectively takes its shape from nature, being modelled after the intestinal tract. The design acts as a house for natural functions, allowing biomass to be digested and supporting cyanobacteria, with sunlight, to produce the byproduct sucrose.8 Algorithmic design has been used to allow natural processes and bacteria to thrive in an environment in which its built form could not have been conceived conventionally. This method of designing to allow for natural processes to flourish can easily be seen as necessary in the future, if unsustainable practices are continued.
Greg Lynn provides another example of computing redefining the design process. He touts the use of mathematics in architecture to allow designers to progress from traditional building form.9 His designs are reminiscent of archigram in their inconceivable nature. Divide, for example, appears alien and is in space, which Lynn himself attributes to digital tools.
5. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), p.10 6. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), p.10 7. Douglas Engelbart, ‘Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework’, Prepared for: Director of Information Sciences, Airforce Office of Scientific Research (1962). 8. Neri Oxman, ‘Neri Oxman’, <http://neri.media.mit.edu> 9. Greg Lynn, ‘Greg Lynn FORM’, <htttp://glform.com> 8
3.COMPOSITION/GENERATION Computation has been widely received as a positive, stateof-the-art addition to architectural practice.10 Sketching algorithmically requires designers to adopt a new language that can be understood by a computer, thus, scripting is widely utilised to approach design problems. Architecture is being seen as progressing towards a future in which software is created to customise design environments and devise solutions to them. Though the use computing has been received positively by many firms, it often requires software engineers and computational designers to utilise scripting to its full potential.11 However, discourse surrounding computation is widely available to all designers through avenues such as forums to allow it to be accessible to many. Computation has affected not only the design process, but also the construction process. Introducing more complex forms during the design process requires a higher level of consideration towards the fabrication of these designs. Further, the fabrication of these designs must comply with local requirements of the site.12 This overall shift into computation has necessitated a shift towards computationbased fabrication and manufacturing.
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s Dubai Infinity Tower (2012) found its form through its generation.14 The building’s columns at its perimeter incorporated a lateral step which in turn formed the exterior form of the building. Thus, the need for conservity to allow for fabrication of a parametrically designed building contributed to its form rather than structural elements pandering to support a form designed by a designer.
The Ark of the World is a building conceived through close collaboration between Greg Lynn and Walter Hidalgo Xirinachs through the use of programming and parametric modelling.15 This collaboration between designers and specialists able to manipulate algorithms to allow for the generation of inconceivable form.
This shift in the fabrication and generation process is nothing new or exclusive to the advent of computation in architecture; Antoni Gaudi’s designs were limited to developable surfaces whilst remaining sculptural.13
10. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), p.10 11. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), p.11 12. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), p.14 13. Robert Woodbury, Theories of the Digital in Architecture, ed. Rivka Oxman & Robert Oxman, (Routledge: New York, 2014), p.162 14. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), p.14 15. Greg Lynn, ‘Greg Lynn FORM’, <htttp://glform.com> 10
FIG.8: INFINITY TOWER
FIG.9: ARK OF THE WORLD
The power and possibility associated with computation is significant and thus, has redefined architectural practice and perhaps the profession itself. Architects and designers are able and encouraged to learn a new design language that allows them to conceive designs that were once never possible. The advent of computing is not without its challenges, however, as fabrication and generation need to be thoroughly considered during the design process. Previously inconceivable forms bring with them surfaces that are not developable, necessitating innovation in material and constuction, which can also be aided by computation. Further, the use of computation to predict the performance of a design post-construction is highly valuable to architects, allowing for more consideration into user experience and further, architectural moments that the designer desires to create. It has become significant to design in this way to exhaust all design possibilities that solve complex design problems presented by environments, structure and function, and allow for the optimal comfort and satisfaction for users and inhabitants.
In Part A, I have learned about many of the possibilities in employing computing in architectural design. My understanding at the beginning of the semester was that computing could be used in architecture to produce forms that could not be produced or conveyed through traditional drafting or computerisation. However, this knowledge has developed until the end of part A which has helped me to understand programs such as grasshopper. These programs allow for parameters or set of rules for a computer to follow and produce a design. This makes architecture less about built form and forces more consideration into user experience and building function. This knowledge would have been useful in past design in which exterior form has been difficult to design; with computation, this form could have been designed by a computer due to the parameters provided for internal spaces.
These algorithmic sketches were included for the interesting internal spaces I believe they create, as well as the external geometries produced. I explored the curve menu, triangulation and lofting utilising different shapes including open curves, closed curves and geometries whilst manipulating numeric values to produce very different forms from the same inputs. This technique interests me in that a design can be easily manipulated, then tested to understand which design is most successful. CONCEPTUALISATION 15
1. Brady Peters, ‘Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought’, Architectural Design, 83 (2013), 8-15.
2. Cassandra Adams, ‘Japan’s Ise Shrine and its Thirteen-Hundred-Year-Old Reconstruction Tradition’, Journal of Architectural Education, 52 (1998), 49-60.
3. Douglas Engelbart, ‘Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework’, Prepared for: Director of Information Sciences, Airforce Office of Scientific Research (1962).
4. Greg Lynn, ‘Greg Lynn FORM’, <htttp://glform.com> [accessed 3 August 2018] 5. Neri Oxman, ‘Neri Oxman’, <http://neri.media.mit.edu> [accessed 3 August 2018]
6. Robert Woodbury, Theories of the Digital in Architecture, ed. Rivka Oxman & Robert Oxman, (Routledge: New York, 2014), 153-170.
7. Socratis Yiannoudes, ‘The Archigram Vision in the Context of Intelligent Environments and Its Current Potential’, 7th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, (2011), 107-113.
8. Tony Fry, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, (Oxford: Berg, 2008),1-16
Figure 1. ‘Interior view of wood drying shed at Yamada work yard, 1998.’ <http://www.jstor.org> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 2. ‘Preparation of locally grown miscanthus reed, 1998.’ <http://www.jstor.org> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 3. ‘Batiment Public, Monte Carlo, 1969-73’, The Archigram Archival Project, <http://archigram.westminster.ac.uk> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 4. ‘View of west hoden, 1998.’ <http://www.jstor.org> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 5. ‘Plug-in University Node, 1965’, The Archigram Archival Project, <http://archigram.westminster.ac.uk> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 6. ‘Mushtari, 2014’, Jupiter’s Wanderer, Frankfurt, Germany <http://neri.media.mit.edu> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 7. ‘Divide, 2004’ <http://glform.com> [accessed 3 August 2018] Figure 8. ‘Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Infinity Tower, Dubai, 2012’, in Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought, 14. Figure 9. ‘Ark of the World Visitors Center, 2003’, San Juan, Costa Rica <glform.com> [accessed 3 August 2018]