Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where we think, too

“Scientists using seat-of-the-pants research – literally – say how something feels to you can affect how you act,” Randolph Schmid reports for Associated Press. “In one experiment, for example, 86 people took part in negotiations over a new car with a sticker price of $16,500 [U.S.]. Some were seated on hard wooden chairs. Others had comfy padded seats. After their first offers were rejected, the participants made a second proposal for the car. People on stiff wooden chairs took a hard line in the deal, raising their offered price by $896.50. But the relaxed folks in soft chairs were willing to spend an extra $1,243.60. The hardness, the researchers concluded, produced strictness and rigidity in the negotiation. ‘We’re not just a brain in a jar; our body is fundamentally tied to our understanding of the world,’ said Joshua Ackerman of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-author of the study.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

my wall today

i'm working towards the text(s) i'm writing on walking

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

annexLAB is now bohmLAB

we've decided to name our lab in homage to our dearly missed computer prof, thomas seebohm:

introducing bohmLAB


Friday, May 28, 2010


three friends (abe galway, tyler walker, tim maly) and i have decided to collaborate in some space-based experimentation using arduinos, processing 1.0, grasshopper (algorithmic modeling within rhino) and an emotiv headset (and projectors and screens and whatever else we can think of).

we have comandeered a space for our lab and are working on getting some money to buy equipment and exhibit our work. 

here are some of the basic technologies we will use:

Rousseau's Reveries of the Solitary Walker

I'm planning on using a similar structure to Rousseau's "Reveries" to pull together my thesis into a book. I'll reflect on a series of walks and my train of thought during those walks and embellish that with the research I've already completed and the experiments to come from annexLAB ...

Sunday, May 23, 2010


i have an idea for a responsive space installation that i'd like to do for my thesis ...

the idea is a bit fuzzy right now - it involves a simple surface, probably textile, some arduinos, pressure sensors, light sensors, etc and a bunch of servos to manipulate the shape of the surface in response to occupation, holding over a trace of each occupant over time.

i'm studying the act of walking as a representation of occupation - trying to work out what energy/information/materials are available to the building-organism as a result of occupation (as a result of a person walking in a space).  i'm using grashopper/rhino to model those exchanges (kind-of) using the GPS tracks collected in the pedestrian survey a few weeks back as hard data to experiment with. i imagine that those experiments will inform the interactions in the installation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

an update

at the moment i'm thinking about neoteny (the juvenile part of life - lanier talks about this towards the end of `you are not a gadget`) and how cultural neotany is both conservative (a generation displays juvenile characteristics longer, conserving their status as cuturally dominant) and radical/experimental (characteristics of juvenalia).  i feel that i (and my immediate peers) occupy a strange middle ground between a generation who's identity was formed in web 2.0 and a generation who's identity was formed before the internet.  we are both deeply nostalgic for reality (a newpaper made of paper which exists for a time and occupies space in our lives - stories which disappear in an instant online lay on your kitchen table, in your recycling bin, on your floor catching paint or lining a litterbox for weeks or years or...you get the idea) we are nostagic for materiality at the same time as we are seduced by the web and excited and inspired by the possibilities emerging from new methods of computation and new ways of thinking about order and organization (and truth?).

i'm thinking about how my generation, how i have a job to do - making sure that i find ways to express the feelings i miss in virtual reality: the things i am nostalgic for (already), the things/experiences that i identify with and value, finding ways to create (send/receive) feelings at least as good/interesting/complex/complete as those to pass on, as new nostalgias (things experienced) to those coming up after us, at lightning speed and slow as snails.

on my list today is to look at borges "on exactitude and science" and record a bit more poodcast.

also on my list today is to try a few modeling ideas with my new skills in grashopper/rhino

Sunday, March 21, 2010


What happens when there is no occupant?  The building dreams - processing information gathered in novel ways - a private enterprise.
(perhaps one could be privy to these dreams if one tiptoed quietly into the space so as not to disturb its sleep)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

history of walking + architecture AND cartography

also: you are not a gadget

somewhere to start looking at cartography: thematic cartography (eg. james snow's cholera map - below).
regarding walking: rebecca solnit (i went online book shopping).

Monday, March 8, 2010

LaN - workshop proposal from Lauren

Hi School,

This is a feeler email - I'm trying to see if there would be interest from students, former students, or faculty in attending a workshop by Live architecture Network (LaN)

WHERE: Toronto (or maybe Cambridge if there's enough local interest)
WHEN: 3 days (consecutively) between April 16 -21

WHO THEY ARE: http://www.livearch itecture. net/

LaN approaches architectural development through interdiscipl inary collaborations enabled by DIGITAL DESIGN + FABRICATION. LaN recognizes the power of digital fabrication, not merely as a toolset of a high technical caliber, but as the driver of particular groupings of resources–an organization of human, economic, and material assets–varying widely based on project circumstances. LaN’s mode of operation is PARAMETRIC in nature, and seeks to re-associate architecture with a flexible, collaborative, & data-rich practice of SPATIAL DESIGN. >>

THE WORKSHOP: Critical Practices of ‘LIVE ARCHITECTURE’ http://www.livearch itecture. net/archives/ 5230

3 day seminar on LIVE aspects of digital design & fabrication for architecture

Its clear in 2010 perhaps more than ever that significant shifts in economies and culture can occur extremely rapidly; climatic crisis can devastate enormous populations in seconds. Our architectural response time is critical. The architectural recourse of one crisis needs to be more than a temporary fix as it is often the only opportunity to implement further preventative measures for a future occurrence.

Parametric practices are moving architectural design on a micro-scale through dynamic modeling & on more significantly on a macro-scale towards a dynamic architectural medium–a Live practice. LaN asks you to abandon representation modes of design and practice LIVE.

NOTE: The workshop is a combination of lecture and instruction labs in Rhino. For those of you who are interested in attending, but who aren't confident in your Rhino skills (like me), we can arrange a half-day intro tutorial to bring you up to speed.

COST: between $225 and $350 depending on how soon you sign up

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: Let me know! They are interested in bringing the workshop here, but only if people will show up. So if I don't here from you - it won't happen.
You can respond to me at laurenbarhydt@ gmail.com
Also, the workshop would be open to anyone so pass it around to your working friends!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mapping the Campus (using locative technologies) - a sketch of a proposal

Using an iPhone, combine GPS and accelerometer data (standard in the iPhone) to trace in 4D the paths of people (graduate students in architecture) exploring main campus, taking photos (on the iPhone), sketching (on the iPad???), and writing about what they sense and what “senses” them. (Pick a couple of useful applications already in existence for blogging and photographing with geo-tagging (i've heard Breadcrumbs is a good start), and write a program in Processing (a software good for this sort of thing – interactive computer-mediated environments designed by artsy types) to collect the GPS and accelerometer info and map it (with a decay function built-in i.e., the lines disappear over time) – unless an application doing that already exists, too.

Data is streamed into a map-blog which plots the paths followed, and represents associated information (text, photos, sketches) as pins/links/banners. The spatial (locative) data must be formatted in such a way as to be able to be integrated into a sketchup model. (**for later: Including a pin indicating the map-blog reader's current position would permit that user to orient themselves and find any place that had already been visited and “posted.” A search mechanism would be necessary (something like google earth, in spatial organization (the zooming in-and-out), or mapquest but rather than searching for an address a keyword search (like evernote, searches text, tags, AND PICTURES) would be best.)

A field of beacons of some sort – pylons with a multicoloured/dimming light might do, maybe a screen, a touchscreen, an (iPad???) – could also re-present some/all of the data, disseminating collected info and advertising the available resource.

This could be a stand-alone project as research for the wayfinding system design (narrative, photographic (and possibly occupation) data and 3D modeled paths – with some degree of accuracy, not likely a perfect model, but one that offers a frame on which to hang more detailed models), or it could be incorporated into the final signage design and become a self-renewing wayfinding resource (a student would have to agree to broadcast their location and other privacy concerns would have to be addressed). Incorporation of this system into the final product would also potentially provide a platform for all sorts of spatial research in the School of Architecture and other faculties: students could write their own applications for the iPhone and advertise approved projects through the wayfinding system and/or draw data from the wayfinding website.

COMMENTS? IDEAS? i'd love to hear from you all about this

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Figure 2: Guy Debord's The Naked City,1957 i
“Our central idea is that of the construction of situations, that is to say, the concrete construction of momentary ambiences of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality. We must develop a methodical intervention based on the complex factors of two components in perpetual interaction, the material environment of life and the comportments which it gives rise to and which radically transform it.”ii
Guy Debord, "Report on the Construction of Situations”

Mu(tating)/Mu(table) Place
I am a psychogeographer! Perhaps... I am, at least, enamored with THE NAKED CITY. “ILLUSTRATION DE L'HYPOTHÉSE DES PLAQUES TOURNANTES EN PSYCHOGEOGRAPHIQUE.” I wonder at the affect of place; the emotional and behavioral aftermath of people mingling in un-space: filled space, dense space; sensed and sensing space. I'm interested in the sensual connections within matter, and, as (as … as if I was, or when I will be) an architect, I think (i feel?) I ought to be conscious of the sensuous exchanges taking place, for example, between the call of a bird and photons, between a tree and a pond+iii... and within that consciousness, I will make a call of my own; sending (something, some message … ?) into some place for it to sense and be sensed. I wait to hear back … and work to create new “techniques of sending”iv (depending on what mangled echo returns, I suppose).
+ “However intricate it may be, the call is one emanation, a sound ensemble, specific in pitches, duration, pattern and intensity typical first of that bird's species but further modulated within that typically to be uniquely characteristic of that individual bird. The bird call does not contain, but is intimately shaped by both the history of the species and the history of the individual bird. In the bird's chicks, the call feels like mother, in another member of its species, the call feels erotic or maddening, depending on the other's sex; to a nearby hawk the same call fells like an urge to hunt, in a vole panic, in a poet walking in the woods a feeling that cascades into a lyrical turn of language, in a composer into a musical imagination, in a camper background noise.

To a heavy snowbank, the call does not feel like much, but had it been 10 hertz higher in pitch or 10 decibels louder in volume, the snow bank might have felt the call enough to avalanche. A blush of protons, rushing from a tree to reflect off a pond nearby feels virtually nothing of the call at all, nor does the call feel much of them. But the air between the tree and the pond feels some of the photons, heats up and changes density, an effect the call feels.”
Jeffrey Kipnis, “On the Wild Side”
Perhaps I'll tell you where this started:
I noticed a six-foot-high wood fence extending perpendicularly from the back of an old, mangled building into what-used-to-be-a-lane-but-is-now-a-parking-lot. A fence next to a door which recedes into a building opening onto stairs leading up to a hallway which smells like stale cigarette smoke and run-down apartments which the police know. People spill out of the door through the recess into the field of the fence … a group slows and bulges – its inertia momentarily depleted – then, replenished by the distance, it elongates again, peeling itself away from the building and into the places – the dense, filled, sensing and sensed spaces – of the city.

A few meters past the recess and up three steps is the back entrance to a quiet, elegant restaurant serving local lawyers, bankers and business-people working in the remains of the historic downtown core of this mid-size Ontario city. As the tenants from upstairs linger, caught in the fence's field, the restaurant's patrons march through the billowing cloud of their presence, into the echoing emptiness of the dining room.

Figure 3: Siegfried Gaß's “Structures in Space and Time”
“The structures in space and time have typical phenotypes, depending on whether energy or matter is transported in space by the local motion of the particles. Waves produce periodically recurring motions which transport energy as a function of time (from top to bottom, left: images 1 and 2). If material particles are transported in space, motions of rotation are produced in an enclosed space which form vortexes. Further characteristic families of forms are ring vortexes (image 3), Bénard cells (right: image 4), helical vortexes (image 5), and vortex streets (image 6).”v
Siegfried Gaß, IL Form Force Mass 5: Experiments
The architectural components of this tiny scene –
The fence, the recess, the doors, the stoop and the what-used-to-be-a-lane-but-is-now-a-parking-lot – were pulled this way and that on sketch paper and in construction drawings: organizing circulation, offering or obscuring views and access, permitting or preventing the development of fields of attraction and fields of dispersion, etc., etc.. They existed before that and they've existed more than once, as abstractions in the mind of a designer or builder, differentiated into (a) building(s), deformed or reorganized to resolve material and temporal issues of construction, modifying (establishing? resetting?) the material organization of this place – the matter of this place. This new organism (organized matter, organization of matter) – this building – does not so much transcend the individual properties of its components as absorb them into a new whole with new properties existing within and forming part of an ecosystem; forming the place where the billowing clouds of presence mingle propelled by the sensual connections within matter and contained within fields of organization or decay. 

I lied. That's not where it started.
It started with a story from The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations by James Suroweicki: Francis Galton recounts a visit to a country fair where fair-goers were invited to guess the butchered weight of an ox and record their guess on a slip of paper. After the winner was announced, Galton collected all of the guesses and found that the crowd accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged. This average was closer to the ox's true butchered weight than the individual guesses, including the separate estimates made by experts.

I like this story for two reasons: First, it presents a philosophical paradigm whereby collectively human beings can be considered an organism which has the property (in certain circumstances) of superior problem-solving capabilities when measured against the problem-solving capabilities of the individual members of the group. This paradigm inherently rewards diversity, respect for independence and cooperation within the group (the neutral aggregation of independent perspectives produces hyper-accurate results) – values which I celebrate (is that too naked a thing to say in a research paper?). There is something remarkable, too, about the possibility that either reality is the average of our collective understandings of it (the ox weighs x lbs. because x lbs. is the average imagined mass of the beast) or (more likely?) the composition of the collective (organism) is balanced in such a way that we perceive some truths more accurately together than alone (i.e., we each have a place in the whole, its balance of perspectives is somehow maintained). Aside from believing that this paradigm promotes behaviors/social organizations which I think are nice (and fair, and right), I suspect that leveraging the problem solving properties of the crowd-organism, already a tactic being pursued in other fields, could potentially be profitable for architects.

Figure 4: Motion in Architecture: Vladimir Tatlin's The Monument to the Third Internationalvi (left: top), Cedric Price's Fun Palacevii (left: middle), Frank Ghery's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbaoviii (left: bottom), Norman Foster's The Swiss Re towerix (right: top), OMA's CCTV buildingx (right: middle), Zaha Hadid's MAXXIxi (right: bottom).
“If there is a single concept that must be engaged due to the proliferation of topological shapes and computer-aided tools, it is that in their structure as abstract machines, these technologies are animate.”xii
Greg Lynn, Animate Form
(A keyboard is an actual machine, it is technological therefore it is a concrete assemblage. The distribution of letters on keys in space is an abstract machine, it is a virtual diagram designed to limit the speed of typing; no particular test word or sentence exists, and it applies to an indefinite series of existing and future words.)xiii
I'm wandering, I know, and lest I wander too far, let me tell you the second reason I like the Francis Galton tale: It is spatial. As (as...as if I was, or when I will be) an architect I enjoy the spatiality of the intelligence demonstrated by the crowd; I imagine the fair-going people tilting their heads … circling the ox … cradling a remembered roast (six lbs., purchased at the market last Wednesday and consumed heartily with wine and yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes later that evening) in their hands and mentally stacking those roasts in three dimensions within the form of the ox while their bellies remember the sensation of roast consumed and repurposed … or calculating the number of husbands it would take to make up and ox, then mentally deconstructing the husband's anatomy, separating meat from bone and estimating the percentage of man-meat per husband then multiplying that by the number of husbands per ox (calculated above) … (I know. I said “profit!” and dollar signs lit up in your eyes. Now you can't focus and are annoyed that I'm talking about man-meat. “Get to the point,” you think. For the sake of my musings and your willingness to indulge them, I will tell you know that I have no gold nugget for you; no gold dust, even. I am staking a piece of intellectual ground and weaving you a tale about gold because I like the story and I want your attention.) If I (a fair-goer, now) estimate the weight of the ox with math and memory – a fuzzy combination, at best – I get to an approximate number, probably a range: 200-300 roasts stacked inside his hide multiplied by six pounds per roast minus 20-30% for bone and organs equals 840-1440 pounds. Something other than math helps me pick my guess: maybe I hear in the ox's breath a tone which informs me of the size of his lungs (closer to 30%, now), or the turbulence generated by the ox's bulk shifting as he lumbers by suggests that he is denser than I first guessed. The point is that my physical, material, kinetic experiences in the world inform the spatial intelligence I use to make my guess. And someone else has another set of experiences which may be similar or radically different from mine and with someone else and someone else...

collectively our experiences equal the dressed weight of an ox. 
The internet is very good for aggregating diverse opinions on problems suited to the crowd-organism; it's great for collecting the slips of paper, and maybe for advertising the ox-weighing contest and explaining the rules, but it sucks at getting the people around the ox, so to speak. This is how I imagine that there is a profit to be made: by using architecture to access the spatial intelligence of the individuals occupying it, a specific intelligence not currently accessible via the internet, architects would create the building(organism?) capable of collecting the spatial equivalent of clicks on google results; to collect and organize spatial information, and even re-present it (let it shape our places in the way the internet has shaped thought). Profitability aside, dare I say that it is the responsibility of architects, as caretakers of a body of knowledge (pertaining to spatial intelligence) for society, to update the way we collect, organize and judiciously use that information?

Maybe, maybe not. 

Figure 5: Computer Models of Complex Systems: Kauffman Boolean Network from OO Programming in Java (left: top).xiv Cellular automata / random boolean networks from Discrete Dynamics Lab at the Santa Fe Institute (left: middle and bottom).xv From the Complexity & Artificial Life Research Concept for Self-Organizing Systems: Chirikov Mapping (right: top), Agent Network (right: middle), Lotka-Volterra Model (right: bottom).xvi
“Darwin could not have suspected the existence of self-organization, a recently discovered, innate property of some complex systems. It is possible that biological order reflects in part a spontaneous order on which selection has acted. Selection has molded, but was not compelled to invent, the native coherence of ontogeny, or biological development. Indeed, the capacity to evolve and adapt may itself be an achievement of evolution.”xvii
Stuart A. Kauffman, “Antichaos and Adaptation”
I'd like to think you're with me 
That you are roused by the call to find a way to tap the spatial smarts of the crowd and that you willingly inhabit the paradigm of the crowd-organism and building organism. I hope the glitter in your mind's eye is bright enough that you believe in the gold. And that you believe in it enough that we swing the average and manifest a few ounces, at least.

But just in case, I'll stop conjuring gold and let you in on the dirt: Advances in computer science emerging from, and developing in parallel with, research into the phenomenon of emergence (see Glossary) in biological organisms, and crowds, and the form of cities, are being leveraged by some architects to generate or influence the form and composition of buildings. Within this paradigm, I propose to consider two questions: What aspects of human occupation become useful (profitable) inputs for the building-organism? and, How does the crowd-organism respond to the building-organism outputs? (I might sidestep the implied question: What are the outputs?).

(I wallow happily in the thinking part of design (as I imagine do other architects who work in the building-organism paradigm), the working-through and arguing-for, and I suspect that I (and they?) secretly want to preserve this muckiness past the point of diagrams and construction drawings, oozing uncertainty through actual construction and into the lives of the occupants, the people – into the real world!)

My point, for the purposes of this paper, is this: I think that walking is the key, or a key … it's important, or at the very least, I think it's a good place to start. We (architects) should figure out how to design our buildings to sense walking, or speak walking, so that the occupant and the building can start to have a useful conversation (via matter and energy: photons, turbulence, and the “tone” of vibrations emanating from ox-breathing?). 

Figure 6: FOA’s Phylogenetic Diagrams (from top to bottom: Function: ground - envelope, Faciality: single face - multiple face, Balance: constant - shifting, Discontinuity: planar - rippled - pinched - perforated - bifurcated, Orientation: oriented - non-oriented, Geometry: continuous - discontinuous, Diversification: patterned - contingent) xviii
“The phylogram operates to identify consistency across the different design processes, projects, and the overall body of the architects’ work.”xix
Alejandro Zaera Polo, Phylogenesis: foa’s ark

Self-Organization: The Biological Model...
The advances in computer science which I mentioned a moment ago – more specifically, the development of computational models for complex systems – find their roots in the work of zoologist and mathematician D’arcy Thompson. In his 1917 text, On Growth and Form,xx he speculates that the form of biological organisms is influenced by physical laws and mechanics as much as (or more than) than by Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory. Thompson identified similarity in the form of jellyfish and that of drops of liquid falling into a viscous fluid, for example, and in the form of the hollow bones of birds and engineering truss designs. (Around the same time as Thompson’s writings, early 20th century architect Antoni Gaudi was experimenting with catenary chain models to define the form of his Church of the Sagrada Familia.)

Today, at least in part because of Thompson’s observations, biological organisms are understood as self-organizing systems: natural systems which organize material in space, over time, and under the load of gravity through the interactions of many simple components (such as sand grains, water molecules, and living cells) - a process known as morphogenesis. It is the differences in the patterns of assembly of these simple components which result in differences in the form and performance of the organism (or system).xxi (Siegfried Gaß, a student of Frei Otto, published an extensive analysis of typical forms resulting from self-forming processes in “Form Force Mass 5: Experiments” published in Institut für Leichte Flächentragwerke (IL) 25. Of particular relevance to this paper is the section on structures in space and time - see Figure 3xxii).

Extending this model to the design of buildings shifts the Modernist paradigm of form “rationalized for realization and superimposed functions” to a new paradigm where form is derived from the capacities of materials and constructs.xxiii To derive form in this model, a (mathematical) process of differentiation is necessary: the process of solving the (biological or architectural) system for multiple variables, broadly defined by Achim Menges, architect and studio master for the Emergent Technologies program at the Architectural Association in London, as ecology, topography, and structure.xxiv

D’Arcy Thompson first applied mathematics to biological form to quantify his theory of morphogenesis. This conceptual leap paralleled mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s theory which argues that “organisms are bundles of relationships that maintain themselves by adjusting their own behavior in anticipation of changes to the patterns of activity all around them.”xxv These two theories ( collectively arguing that form and behavior emerge from process ) xxvi bring us back to that rich discourse in mathematical and computational models for complex systems – including cybernetics (Norman Weiner), geometrical phyllotaxis and the attraction-diffusion model (Alan Turing), systems theory, complexity theory, genetic algorithms (John H. Holland), and most recently, mathematical simulations of genes acting in Boolean networks (Figure 5)xxx - which provides the conceptual model and the computational foundation for building-organism design.

Figure 7: Organisational model of differential intersystemic relations (above left) derived by a digital-mapping technique of system-specific light and climatic conditions (above right).xxvii

Figure 8: Component evolution based on parametric variations of the boundary definition points, the seam layout, the pressure of the compressed air volume and the consequent geometry and prestressing of the membranes.xxviii
“The Postagriculture project begins with the recognition of the importance of environmentally and socially sustainable food production. The project needed to negotiate multiple programmatic claims on a limited space.... (The) location needs to facilitate both time-intensive agricultural production ... and extensive public leisure activities.... The aim is to articulate an inclusive and responsive strategy, one that enables a mode of agricultural production that is a highly integrated, mutable and vital urban programme. The project promotes a local hybridisation of intensified agroproduction with public recreation. This in turn demands an architecture that is capable of negotiating and adapting to different system requirements.”xxix
Achim Menges, “Morphoecologies”
...as applied to Architecture
These mathematical and computational models (all based on calculus, the mathematical study of change) have, so far, found their way into built architecture through topological surfaces functions in CAD software (which are so prolific they appear as the sandbox tools in the free and popular Google SketchUp software), time-and-force modeling attributes in animation software and parameter-based modeling.xxxi But architectural researchers and experimental designers are attempting to instrumentalize the most recent mathematical advances (those computational models of complex systems) and their corollary conceptual models.

For example: “phylogenesis” is used to generate diagrams for architectural design. Foreign Office Architects analyzed ten's years of their own work, classifying it in the manner of a phylogenetic tree (Figure 6) in the hopes that they could “address general questions about the identity and the consistency and the operativity of an architectural practice today.”xxxii Why inhabit the building-organism paradigm? “By constructing our identity from a populational analysis of the projects, we are trying to avoid constructing it on the basis of idealistic or critical claims. We are constructing the consistency of our practice out of its own material, understanding our production as a non-arbitrary group of individuals that may or may not share features and therefore belong to a species. From this perspective, our practice may be seen as a phylogenetic process in which seeds proliferate in time across different environments, generating differentiated yet consistent organisms that evolve through time and across different environments.”xxxiii

“Morpho-ecologies” are formal, structural and programmatic solutions to architectural problems. (One of the keys to understanding this approach is an acute awareness of the shift from geometric to differential mathematics in architectural design: that is to say the shift from static to dynamic forms in architecture.xxxiv Parametric modeling is one of the tools architects can use to design using differential mathematics. “Parametric Model: It maintains consistent relationships between elements as the model is manipulated. For example, in a parametric building modeler, if the pitch of the roof is changed, the walls automatically follow the revised roof line.”xxxv) Postagriculture, one of Achim Menges’ designs using a morpho-ecological approach, is designed through multiple acts of differentiation. (A differential equation is a mathematical equation for an unknown function of one or several variables that relates the values of the function itself and its derivatives of various orders. Differential equations play a prominent role in engineering, physics, economics and other disciplines.)xxxviii For example, the light level within the structure is a function of available light and transparency of material, the transparency of the material is a function of its density, the structural capacity of the material is also a function of its density and so on. If particular light levels are required within a building, a differential equation will be necessary to solve the relationship between light, material thickness, and structural capacity (Figures 7 and 8).

Figure 9: Andrew Kudless' p_wall (from top to bottom, left: initial pattern, array of points (density correlated to greyscale value), panel distribution; right: dowels to restrain fabric located at points from step 2, plaster poured into elasticated fabric mould, final surface form).xxxvi 
“Kudless has established himself as a prominent figure in a new generation of architectural researchers whose investigation traverse physical “self-organized” production and computational processes; their material systems use pattern and surface differentiation to produce gradients of performance that transcend the atelier tradition of experimentation with arrangements of materials stressed to produce stable organizations.”xxxvii
Michael Weinstock, “Surfaces of Self-organization”

“Material emergence” develops the architect’s intuition for animate forms. Andrew Kudless is one of the architects who have begun experimenting with self-forming processes paired with evolutionary design methods to find forms with inherent potential for self-organization during fabrication (Figure 9xxxix) concentrating on processes suitable for the fabrication of surfaces. Surface, in this building-organism paradigm, is that part of the complex system through which energy, materials, and information are exchanged with the surrounding environment. “This new potential for architectural surfaces is predicated on a parallel interest in territory - territory on which spaces flow into one another, and on which connectivity and integration are enhanced. The experience of these surface territories and spaces is at once private and public, interior and exterior - a manifestation of the contemporary cultural condition.”xl

as I consider these experiments …
These examples offer a toolkit of potential experiments through which to investigate how a building can gather and release information, material or energy (the possible inputs/outputs of the building-organism), but I find myself wondering how human occupation of a space offers energy, information, or material to the building-organism, and thus how the surface can best vector these exchanges. You could say that I'm interested in the market (the process of exchange), more so than the town hall (the organizers). Maybe if I call myself a nomad that interest will make sense – which fits, I suppose, if you'll believe that from nomads, not their settled counter-cultures, sprung architecture.

Francesco Carrera rests his argument in Walkscapes – that walking is a tool that permits interactive intervention in place – on a lyrically-told narrative tracing architecture's nomadic lineage. He claims that walking is man's first aesthetic act, and that through walking, man constructs an order on which is developed the architecture of situated objects. Carrera argues that architects and architecture are ready for the persistent re-writing of space/place that design rooted in wandering requires. As evidence, he points to 20th century cultural movements which embraced experiments in walking (I am finally back to the beginning of my dérive) and asks that architects to re-inhabit the paradigm those wanders elicit (that of the nomad “penetrating the territories of territories of chaos, constructing an order on which to develop the architecture of situated objects.”xliii) Constructing an order within the territory of chaos … This is why I think walking is a good place to start looking for occupant offerings of energy, information, and maybe even material – walking is already our tool (we, the members of crowd-organism) for bringing order (spatial order?) to a shifting territory – we used it once, long, long ago and it must remain embedded within us. The message is not new (chaos, order, nomad, architecture, place, non-place) but we are developing new ways of sending and receiving and organizing our architecture, ways of destabilizing it. And so, to bring occupants back into this unstable place, we coordinate the place's instability with the ability of the occupant to construct a new order.

Figure 10: Map of Manchester: 1890-1905xli
“ ...what Engels observed are patterns in the urban landscape, visible because they have a repeated structure that distinguishes them from the pure noise you might naturally associate with an unplanned city. They are patterns of human movement and decision-making that have been etched into the texture of city blocks, patterns that are then fed back to the Manchester residents themselves, altering their subsequent decisions. (In that sense, they are the very opposite of the traditional sense of urban complexity - they are signals emerging where you would otherwise only expect noise.) A city is a kind of pattern amplifying machine: its neighbourhoods are a way of measuring and expressing the repeated behavior of larger collectivities - capturing information about group behavior, and sharing that information with the group. Because those patterns are fed back to the community, small shifts in behavior can quickly escalate into larger movements: upscale shops dominate the main boulevards, while the working class remains clustered invisibly in the alleys and side streets; the artists live on the Left Bank, the investment bankers in the Eighth Arrondissement. You don’t need regulations and city planners deliberately creating these structures. All you need are thousands of individuals and a few simple rules of interaction.”xlii
Steven Johnson, Emergence

I'm weaving my tale, and ungraciously inviting this new guest to a party which I myself am crashing, to facilitate (justify?) my yearning to build my own monster out of dismembered experience secreted from its resting place in the night, to jolt it to sending/receiving/organizing (life) and to set it loose on some unsuspecting audience to see if it consumes them. I imagine an architecture which records traces of occupation like a forest; absorbing into its own constant re-organization patterns of spatial occupation discovered through senses stitched into the idea-corpse of my monster. I imagine architecture as an organism in an ecosystem: sending/receiving/organizing.xliv I imagine, too, that the crowd of people occupying a building are an organism. And I think that in order to figure out how to design an architectural organism which is adaptive, which absorbs change and responds, I'll start by taking a close look at that primal architectural act: walking.

Adaptive emergent architecture: ‘Emergence’ is the scientific mode in which natural systems can be explored and explained in a contemporary context. It provides ‘models and processes for the creation of artificial systems that are designed to produce forms and complex behavior, and perhaps even real intelligence’.xlv

Adaptive emergent behavior:
the system would use local rules between interacting agents to create higher-level behavior well suited to its environment.xlvi

bionics is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.xlvii

Commonwealth: the place we have an interest in, which is made up of all of us.

Complex behavior:
a system with multiple agents dynamically interacting in multiple ways, following local rule and oblivious to any higher level instructions.xlviii

the interdisciplinary scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions with their environment. The environment of an organism includes all external factors, including abiotic ones such as climate and geology, and biotic factors, including members of the same species (conspecifics) and other species that share a habitat. If the general life science of biology is viewed as a hierarchy of levels of organization, from molecular processes, to cells, tissues and organs, and finally to the individual, the population and the ecosystem, then the study of the latter three levels belongs within the purview of ecology.xlix

Generative modeling:
a shape is described by a sequence of processing steps, rather than just the end result of applying these operations. Shape design becomes rule design.l

Morphology (biology):
the form, structure and configuration of an organism. This includes aspects of the outward appearance (shape, structure, colour, pattern) as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and organs. This is in contrast to physiology, which deals primarily with function.li

Parametric Model:
It maintains consistent relationships between elements as the model is manipulated. For example, in a parametric building modeler, if the pitch of the roof is changed, the walls automatically follow the revised roof line.lii

Performative Structure:
a network of connected scenes that captures the relationships among scenes. A performative structure constrains the paths agents can traverse to move from one scene to another, depending on the roles they are playing.liii

is any observable characteristic or trait of an organism: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, or behavior. Phenotypes result from the expression of an organism's genes as well as the influence of environmental factors and possible interactions between the two. The genotype of an organism is the inherited instructions it carries within its genetic code. Not all organisms with the same genotype look or act the same way, because appearance and behavior are modified by environmental and developmental conditions. Similarly, not all organisms that look alike necessarily have the same genotype.liv

Phylogram (or Phylogenetic tree):
a device of classification in biology which is used for systematic study of evolutionary history and the relationships among organisms that have common ancestors.lv

the growth or production of cells by multiplication of parts or a rapid and often excessive spread or increase: nuclear proliferation.lvi

*Emergence: In its broadest definition, emergence is “a higher level pattern arising out of parallel complex actions between local agents.”lvii In the urban form of Manchester (for example), the patterns that emerged were neighbourhoods, or districts, with distinct characteristics which crystallized out of the actions and interactions of users of the commonwealth (the local agents), “capturing information about group behavior, and sharing that information with the group.”lviii

iThe Naked City, Free Association Design, http://freeassociationdesign.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/urban-transects-revisited-2/ (accessed February 14, 2010).
ii“Report on the Construction of Situations and on the International Situationist Tendency’s Conditions of Organization and Action,” Bureau of Public Secrets, http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/report.htm (accessed February 14, 2010).
iiiJeffrey Kipnis, “On the Wild Side,” in Phylogenesis: foa’s ark (Barcelona, Spain: Actar, 2004).
ivKipnis, “On the Wild Side.”
vSiegfried Gaß, “Preface,” IL Form Force Mass 5: Experiments in vol. 25 of Institut für Leichte Flächentragwerke (IL) (Stuttgart, Germany: IL, 1990): 0.17.
viThe Tatlin Tower, The Slog News & Arts, http://slog.thestranger.com/2008/06/15-21 (accessed June 10, 2009).
vii“O Fun Palace,” Arquitextos, http://www.vitruvius.com.br/arquitextos/arq000/esp500.asp (accessed June 10, 2009).
viii"L'Architettura Che Mi Emoziona," baARCH's photostream, http://www.flickr.com/photos/45225386@N00/ (accessed June 10, 2009).
ix“London Open House: From the top of the Gherkin and more”, SkyscraperPage, http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/archive/index.php/t-138268.html (accessed June 10, 2009).
x“CCTV,” cccdi, http://cccdi.hk/v1/archives/122, (accessed June 10, 2009).
xi“Maxxi,” My Modern Met, http://www.mymodernmet.com/photo/maxxi1-1?context=latest (accessed June 10, 2009).
xiiLynn, Animate Form.
xiiiLynn, Animate Form.
xiv"Kauffman Boolean Network," Soft Computing Technology, http://www.softcomp.com/class7/kauffman/quiz.htm (accessed July 12, 2009).
xv“Discrete Dynamics Lab: Cellular automata / random boolean networks”, g b l & e, http://www.gbl.tuwien.ac.at/_docs/studio/2002/vo/020313/main.htm (accessed July 12, 2009).
xvi“CALResCo Software Pages”, The Complexity & Artificial Life Research Concept for Self-Organizing Systems, http://www.calresco.org/sos/calressw.htm#bn (accessed July 12, 2009).
xviiStuart A. Kauffman, “Antichaos and Adaptation,” Scientific American, August 1991, 78-84.
xviiiForeign Office Architects, Phylogenesis: foa’s ark (Barcelona, Spain: Actar, 2004), 12 – 15.
xixZaera Polo, “Types, Style and Phylogenesis,” 36.
xx D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. 1942. On growth and form. New ed ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
xxiWeinstock, “Surfaces of Self-organization: Andrew Kudless’ Material Explorations.“
xxii Siegfried Gaß, “Preface,” IL Form Force Mass 5: Experiments in vol. 25 of Institut für Leichte Flächentragwerke (IL) (Stuttgart, Germany: IL, 1990): 0.17.
xxiiiHensel, “Polymorphism,” 86.
xxivMenges, “Morphoecologies,” 73.
xxvMenges, “Morphogenesis and the Mathematics of Emergence,” 13.
xxviMenges, “Morphogenesis and the Mathematics of Emergence,” 13.
xxvii Menges, “Morphoecologies,” 73.
xxviii Menges, “Morphoecologies,” 73.
xxixMenges, “Morphoecologies,” 75.
xxxMenges. “Morphoecologies.”
xxxiLynn, Animate Form.
xxxiiAlejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi, Phylogenesis.
xxxiiiAlejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi, Phylogenesis.
xxxivGreg Lynn, Animate form (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999).
xxxv“Parametric Modeling,” TheFreeDictionary by Farlex, http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/parametric+modeling (accessed June 10, 2009).
xxxviMichael Weinstock, “Surfaces of Self-organization: Andrew Kudless’ Material Explorations,“ in PRAXIS 9: Expanding Surface, (Cambridge, MA: Praxis Inc., 2006).
xxxviiWeinstock, “Surfaces of Self-organization: Andrew Kudless’ Material Explorations.“
xxxviii“Differential equation,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_equation (accessed June 10, 2009).
xxxixWeinstock, “Surfaces of Self-organization: Andrew Kudless’ Material Explorations.“
xlWeinstock, “Surfaces of Self-organization: Andrew Kudless’ Material Explorations.“
xliHistorical Ordnance Survey map, Francis Frith, http://www.francisfrith.com/manchester/maps/ (accessed June 12, 2009).
xliiSteven Johnson, Emergence : The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software (New York, NY: Touchstone, 2002), 40.
xliii Careri, Walkscapes, 21.
xlivKipnis, “On the Wild Side.”
xlvAchim Menges, “Emergence in Architecture,” AD Emergence: Morphogenetic Design Strategies 74, no. 3 (May/June 2004): 6.) (Helen Castle, “Editorial,” AD Emergence: Morphogenetic Design Strategies 74, no. 3 (May/June 2004): 4.)
xlviJohnson, Emergence, 19.
xlvii"Bionics," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomimetic (accessed June 10, 2009).
xlviiiJohnson, Emergence, 40.
xlix"Ecology," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecology (accessed June 10, 2009).
l"Generative Modelling Language," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_Modelling_Language (accessed June 10, 2009).
li"Morphology (biology)," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphology_(biology) (accessed June 10, 2009).
lii“Parametric modeling”, TheFreeDictionary by Farlex, http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/parametric+modeling (accessed June 10, 2009).
liiiMario Gómez and Enric Plaza, "Integrating Knowledge Modeling and Multi-Agent Systems," Artificial Intelligence Research Institute - Spanish Scientific Research Council, www.iiia.csic.es/People/enric/papers/ORCAS.pdf (accessed June 10, 2009).
liv"Phenotype," Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenotype (accessed June 10, 2009).
lvAlejandro Zaera Polo, “Types, Style and Phylogenesis,” in AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design 76, no. 2 (March/April 2006): 36.
lvi"Proliferation," Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/proliferation (accessed June 10, 2009).
lviiJohnson, Emergence, 19.
lviiiJohnson, Emergence, 40.


Figure 1: Bruce Nauman's Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk), 1968. 1
“In homage to Arena Quad I+II of Samuel Beckett and the character Molloy, Bruce Nauman walked for about an hour on a space defined by starting with a line drawn on the ground. With his hands clasped behind his back, placing one leg at a time on the ground, walking – instead of an ordinary gesture – becomes a dance of the weights and continuous rebalancings of the body while giving rise, through the sound of the cadenced steps, to a rhythmical, sonorous space.”2

Francesco Careri, Walkscapes
We are in the midst of a shift in thinking about the anatomy of architecture whereby a building is imagined as a complex system, the form of which is the result of generative processes and determined by the material properties of the components and their patterns of assembly. This new paradigm emerges from, and permits, the integration of the ecological+, topological+ and structural+ performances of the building using evolutionary design and computation methods.3

Within this paradigm, surface is that part of the system through which exchanges of energy, information, and materials with the local environment are vectored. Emergent material methodologies offer form-finding methods for surfaces which are theoretically in sync with the complex system paradigm. The experiments within this discourse, however, have not yet meaningfully incorporated ecology; that is to say, they do not consider how human occupation of a space offers energy, information, or material to the system, and thus how the surface can best vector these exchanges.

Both the perspectives of the system-building and the human-ecology need to be considered in establishing these exchanges: 
System input: What aspects of human occupation become useful inputs for the system?  
Ecological response: How does the ecology respond to system outputs? 
I will largely sidestep the question of the appropriateness of, and logic for, establishing active ecological interference via a building system. I will, however, take up Francesco Careri's offer of the path as a resource for architects, and suggest that the act of walking through a space may offer useful, legible inputs for the system and access a primal territorial relationship which permits “(intervention) in their continuous becoming by acting in the field, in the here and now of their transformation, sharing from the inside in the mutations of these spaces....”4
+ ecology: all the relationships between human groups and their physical and social environments.  
+ topology: the connections between all the material elements in an environment. 
+ structure: organizational capabilities above and beyond load bearing. 

1. Bruce Nauman, Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk), Museum Madre, 1968, http://www.museomadre.it/opere.cfm?id=662&evento=59(accessed December 18, 2009).
2. Francesco Careri. Walkscapes (Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Gustavo Gili, 2002), 128.
3. Achim Menges, “Morphoecologies,” AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design 76, no. 2 (March/April 2006):73.
4. Careri, Walkscapes, 26.