Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Ethos of Computational Design

Joshua Fowler here speaking toward the digital culture involved in computational design:
             Current mainlines of knowledge already established in regards to computational and parametric algorithmic design are established through a complex network of inter and cross-disciplinary channels varying from material science to mathematics to robotics and more. All of these interdisciplinary factors culminate within the knowledge base of computational design. Foster + Partners SMG (Specialist Modeling Group) harness this notion of inter and cross-disciplinary studies within its group members from such disciplines as fine arts, mathematics, industrial design, mechanical engineering, building physics, physical computing, fabrication, and acoustics; melding of such disciplines opens opportunities for unique design solutions which may not have emerged from a more traditional, homogeneous group.[1] An excellent resource for researching the implementations and mainlines of knowledge is the magazine Architectural Design. This source's basis explores various architectural design theories, implementations, etc; with several issues focusing on algorithmic thought, mathematics of space, material computation, as well as numerous other issues regarding research directly pertaining to computational design's influence on architecture, and also contains pertinent case studies for reference.
            Current theories relating to computational design lie primarily in the dialogue between efficiency opportunities and architecture, as well as the opportunities for vast complexities in the tectonics and aesthetics of architecture. Generative algorithmic design has proven that it can not only free architecture from the bonds of fixed catalogs and types, but it also changes the scope from the production of single objects toward the possibility of a range of objects.[2] An additional line of knowledge and theories which lie in the parallel to variations and evolutionary biology as described in The Architecture of Variation edited by Lars Spuybroek. All of these theories and lines of knowledge have valuable lessons to gain and branches of thought which could bifurcate into new lines of thought. Due to the relatively recent nature of computational design and the implementation of emerging technologies there are various opportunities which lie ahead for the dialogue between computation and architecture. 
            There are several theoretical implementations and points of view on the subject of generative algorithmic design as mentioned before. There does, however, seem to be certain subjects which speak to computation more so than others. Such points of view are established in similar areas of computation itself such as robotics and engineering, or just about anything dealing with computers, mathematical equations, matrices, etc. While such points of view parallel closely with computation, this leaves room for further exploration into non-traditional uses of computational design. Ideologically the ideas which this study intends to explore are fields of genetic variation and its relationship with architecture as well as the reflexivity and responsiveness opportunities for architecture and its context.
            There are several names and iconic works which are emerging in the field of computational design. It is crucial to the validity of this study to extensively research the current and past projects and to analyze the theories and practices of those at the forefront of generative algorithmic design. The Architecture of Variation edited by Lars Spuybroek, Explores the relationship between uniformity and variety, in both an evolutionary and textile standpoint, with an emphasis on computer numerical control. This is a culmination of the research done by Lars along with students and research participants at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Architecture. This literature provides prime precedence for the language spoken between different inspirations of design, specifically textile, and the extrapolation of that inspiration into computer numerical controlled models and designs. Some of the language to pull from this literature is the concept that computation is a tool by which a designer can utilize to further his/her design and thought process and should not necessarily be considered as either a starting point or the only aspect of the design. There must exist the parameters of conscious design input from the designer and use of computation as a tool in designing rather that treating the tool as the designer. Additionally, a dialogue between the influence of patterns and computation also permeates this literature and provides precedence.

[1] Peters, Brady. "Computation Works: The Building of Algorithmic Thought." Architectural Design Vol. 222, 2013.
[2] Spuybroek, Lars, ed. Research & design: the architecture of variation. Thames & Hudson, 2009.

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