Monday, June 15, 2009

Designing Emergent Architecture: Methods and Tools

Final Paper Abstract/Proposal: Contemporary Discourses in Architecture Abstract “Just like the clock maker metaphors of the Enlightenment, or the dialectical logic of the nineteenth century, the emergent worldview belongs to this moment in time, shaping our thought habits and colouring our perception of the world.” (Johnson, Steven. 2002. Emergence : The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software. 1st Touchstone ed. New York. p.66) The emergent worldview presents a challenge to architects: to effectively integrate this new way of thinking into architectural design, the architect must shift roles from form-maker to rule-maker. To be the rule-maker, the architect must first analyze existing circumstances and identify the rules already affecting material, social, and cultural form within the context of the proposed design. Next, she must select which parameters which will be applied to the design. These first two “phases” of emergent design are relatively traditional architectural endeavors, though the novel application of the information will require some finessing of the methods of research and parameter definition. The biggest challenge of this method of design, as I see it, is that the application of these parameters necessitates advanced computation not normally within the expertise of the architect. I propose two parts to this paper: First, I will identify the methods of analysis and rule development used by architects working in emergent design (I will start with those who contributed to Emergence: Morphogenetic Design Strategies). Second, I will identify and test software which has been developed, or has been co-opted, for the purposes of emergent design while summarizing the computational theory behind these programs (I propose Rhino/Grasshopper/Monkey, Space Syntax, and L-Systems, for starters).

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