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trabajamos para ella ! - In Lieu of a Manifesto :Experiments, Hueristics and Praxis

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In Lieu of a Manifesto :Experiments, Hueristics and Praxis 
Wednesday, February 6, 2008, 07:56 PM - Analytical, Research, papers
Posted by Administrator
The following post is abridged from a unpublished research paper that collates personal experiences related to 'architectural-computing' as part of team Manifold,AADRL, Architectural Assistant at HOK Sport London, and as Architectural Assistant at ZHA, London . However a niggling 'computational' task warranted the post. videos are in real time.



Ted Kruger, in his lecture series, Instrument and Instrumentality, uses Herbert Simon’s distinctions between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ sciences to describe the ‘sciences’ as operating on two agendas: understanding the world ‘as-is’ and speculating on ‘as-it should be’.

“Herbert Simon writing in Sciences of the Artificial posits two kinds of science the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’. Natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry and biology endeavour to understand the world ‘as it is’. The task is fundamentally descriptive and analytical. It concerns itself with thinking. Sciences of the artificial - business, engineering, and all of design, for examples, give primary consideration to the world‘as it should be’….”

Kruger, Ted: Instrument and Instrumentality.
V2_Lab; Workshops, lecture Ted Krueger,<www. lab.v2.nl/events/_docs/lecture_krueger.pdf>, pg 1.

Subscription to and extension of the argument would mean that ‘applied science’ could be posited as the bridge between the two. Further, (architectural) ‘design as research’ could be argued to exhibit similar properties of using, translating, transposing and adapting the descriptive tools of natural science to engineer an imagined and wished world.

_geometric relations, logical structures: parametric systems

Architecture as an assembly of design components implicitly suggests ‘self-similarity’ and ‘difference’ amongst the parts of the system. Particulars or aspects of this similarity and difference could be multitude. Nonetheless, our research aims to ‘appose’ and /or articulate the notion with other issues that deserve to be discussed.

In recent ‘parametric’ systems of design and of codification of design for construction, this aspect of similarity and difference, have tended to be manifested in the production of ‘homeo-morphic’ geometries such as ‘adaptive (to curvature) tiling’ patterns, structural skins etc. Alternatively, there have been systems, like those in robotics , that concentrated on production of non-topological difference and on aspects of ‘family’ and ‘individual’ on the basis of ‘attributes’ such as constituent parts , specific task-capacities, transformation pathways etc. Without explicit allegiance to one or the other, our research gravitates more towards using the first principles of all such systems : that of algorithmic procedures, machinating ‘control rigs’ where all pre-defined logical relations remain consistent as the system is manipulated or re-evaluated, use of external data as strategic inputs, feedback loops etc. Thus, parametric systems can be understood as systems of and/or related to quantification, determination of logical relations and continuous evaluation of a system so ‘rigged’ for multiple design outcomes.

Empirical evidence from (within our current context) of a multi-tiered, plural, and collaborative design process and environment implores for further articulation of one aspect of the definition (in bold above). A possible method of such an articulation, as will be argued in the example below, is through ‘rules-of-thumb’ or an abstraction of information and simplification of the ‘intelligence’ of parametric systems.


A free player from tradebit.com



A free player from tradebit.com


The associated images and video relate to an attempt to ‘parametrisize ’ the effect of built environment on the visual ‘field’ of its context and vice versa. The attempt was to develop a interactive ‘modelling’ tool which would re-evaluate a simple iterative logic upon manipulation of the model: shoot ‘rays’ from every point of a input set of ‘sampling’ points in pre-defined directions, calculate the ratio of the number of rays shot to those intersected by the built mass, and collate the distances at which those intersections occurred. Empirical experience would however point to a computational limit: calculation of intersection of rays with ‘mesh’ geometry, consumes a lot of computational resource and thus slowing down execution times. This, in spite of the code predominantly being wrappers to pre-compiled, professional code (from Autodesk Maya) and accounting for the amateur, enthusiast nature of the attempt. This then, points to significant aspect of ‘parametric’ systems: that of ‘re-evaluation time’ of a ‘parametric’ setup.


A free player from tradebit.com


Elaborating, most ‘parametric’ platforms ((Rhino explicit history, Generative Components, Maya Hyper-graph, Catia object- tree, rendering Shader-networks, et.al)) have to account for, in some form or manner, information flow between constituent ‘nodes’ : black-boxes that take one/multiple inputs and produce an output, which is further connected as ‘input’ to other such ‘nodes’. It then logically, and presumably from postulates of graph theory, follows that ‘evaluation time’ of such a set-up has to be dependent directly on the number of ‘nodes’;

It can be argued further that significant ‘time-gains’ can be effected only through more efficient, professional algorithmic and data structures. In this particular example for instance, there are better and professional (stand-alone) tools available that implement efficient algorithms relating to Geo-spatial analysis. (e.g: Space syntax Isovist, Matlab line of sight et al).

These aspects of ‘parametric’ systems or ‘architectural computing’, coupled with the nature of ‘multi-tiered, plural, and collaborative design process and environment’ outlined previously, point towards a need for ‘rules-of thumb’. Delineating further, these ‘rules’ need to abstract, encapsulate, and allow for the potential to integrate with, more advanced computing logics of science, engineering and construction. This would allow for an informed-yet-fluent design process without placing undue burden on the later stage of integration with ‘computation’ for construction.

Stated differently, most ‘scripting’ and other forms of ‘end-user programming’ within design realms, would be best served as an interface between opening up possibilities in the design realm, and enabling the manifestation of those possibilities in built form.


In the current example, this ‘rule-of-thumb’ was crudely instantiated as a reduction in the number of rays being shot, in order to approximate the result and enable ‘interactive’ feedback…

…More examples and substantiations to the argument to follow.

v1.0 non interactive tool but with shader support


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