Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Dialogue Between Computational Design and Architecture

Joshua Fowler here, as a means of a little clarification regarding my thesis, the following is an excerpt from my writings about computational design, enjoy.

            Within the ethos of architecture design, new-coming technologies are extruding forth new potential for optimization. Structure, fenestration, form, skin, materiality, and more, all now becoming viewed in progressive ways though the utilization of technology for optimization. Architecture following such a technological inclination can be viewed as having a parameter based genetic code which can be digitally altered and optimized in order to save time, material, money, etc. Imagine designs and architecture having all of its components meticulously mapped out in a genetic code which contains the generative instructions for design form, tectonics, structure, etc.  as well as generates the capability to adapt to certain situations. Thereby allowing designs to not only function optimally in three dimensions but break a boundary into the fourth dimension of time. Now imagine being able to alter this genetic code relatively simply, rendering the results entirely different or involving fewer or greater parameters.  Entire spaces could perform on their own to optimize for certain situations, fenestration which alters itself for various desired purposes, all without the direct attention of the occupants within. By giving architecture a responsive and genetic code, we can create a new breed of living buildings. Emerging technologies are now allowing for an easier transition toward this responsive and algorithmic genetic code based method of design. Aesthetics could also then become responsive and therefore provide a potential for greater user interaction with the architecture.  New dialogs can be created between the architecture and the occupants, based on proximity, number of occupants, and other various parameters. Algorithmic genetic design as a design implementation opens the doors for a new echelon of digitally based design intended for the optimization of numerous aspects of design.
            Computational design in architecture has established a new epoch in design process methodologies evolved from the digitization of more traditional design process. "'Computation'… allows designers to extend their abilities to deal with highly complex situations. Sean Ahlquist and Achim Menges define computation as 'the processing of information and interactions between elements which constitute a specific environment; it provides a framework for negotiating and influencing the interrelation of datasets of information, with the capacity to generate complex order, form, and structure.'" [1] Many more factors can now be considered while utilizing algorithmic design permitting an influx of information and parametric data to permeate design decisions and thus the design and architecture itself. This informed approach based method aids in creating additional purpose and meaning to design and architecture.
            Perhaps one of the more appetizing rationales for computational design lies in the capability to seamlessly translate the notions of complex genetic algorithmic designs into tactile, fully functioning,  physical entities. With the potential for a multiplicity of complex forms available through modern technologies and practices along with the compressed timeframes of construction, it has become inherently necessary to involve projects on a computational level for speed and accuracy. This technological involvement is now also shifting toward the construction and fabrication trades allowing for a smoother transition between digital designs and construction and fabrication. Such design, construction, and fabrication techniques have also allowed and supported the creation of parametric families rather than a specific repetitive detail. Computational design also contains the capability to ease the transition to digital fabrication through the calculation and deconstruction of a design into its specific pieces for fabrication.

[1] Peters, Brady. "Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought." Architectural Design 83, no. 2 (2013): 8-15.

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