Joshua Fowler here, and I would like to comment on a recent book I purchased at the Chicago Architecture Foundation in Chicago. The book is Bracket- Goes Soft- Almanac 2, edited by Neeraj Bhatia, and Lola Sheppard.
"Bracket is an almanac that highlights emerging critical issues at the juncture of architecture, environment, and digital culture. The series looks at thematics in our age of globalization that are shaping the built environment in unexpected yet radically significant ways," according to the editors. They also had this to comment about this particular almanac, Goes Soft:
"[Soft] refers to responsive, indeterminate, flexible, and immaterial systems that operate through feedback, organization and resilience. These complex systems transform through time to acknowledge shifting and indeterminate situations- characteristics that are evident both in the dynamics of contemporary society and the natural environment."
The reason for bringing up such material is that it pertains directly to my interests as well as my thesis. My thesis revolves around algorithmic generative design as a system for optimization within the realm of architecture. This book is an excellent precursor and research reference for such a dialogue. The book begins to describe the relationship between [soft] systems and the context in which they are implemented. Ranging from social-political change projects to physically adapting projects, [soft] projects begin to optimize and respond to parameters within their context. This book is helping me in narrowing my focus of my thesis and what I really want to do. Creating adaptable and responsive architectural systems that physically evolve with their environment from an algorithmic and computational stand point. This kind of system has a great application in the present "sustainability" issues of today, optimizing various systems in order to create even smarter buildings using less energy. This concept does initially seem a bit counter-intuitive at first, with systems usually relying on some source of energy in order to function, however this concept of energy is currently being challenged in innovative and progressive methods. I recall such and example of this in a project, which I shall later post, about a column structure whose only response was to the humidity in the air. This humidity altered the physicality of the structure and the column responded. The idea behind the project being that the more people there was in the given space to which the column was, the less intrusive the column became due to the material response of the column to the amount of humidity in the air. So this idea of responsive systems should not carry with it the notion of traditional energy application such as electricity or other finite resources, but should rather carry the notion that we should be creating responsive systems which respond to non-finite resources.
bracket's website is as follows: http://brkt.org