Research Agenda 
_Context and argument.

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’. 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. However, it could also argued that this ‘translation’ has to be negotiated against more ‘weathered’ concerns of design including discourses on formal language, performance fitness, spatial perception and experience, socio-cultural implications etc. The over-arching context of this paper will be ‘apposing’ the current interest and rapid evolution of computation within architectural design, against such an idea of applied science.

Concurrent to the global context above, the specific context of this paper relates to ‘parametrics’ and its relation to present architectural discourse. This could be traced, in the least, up to the explicit interest evinced in D’Arcy Thompson’s On growth and Form, John Fraser’s Evolutionary Architecture ,Greg lynn’s animate form, Delanda’s War in the Age of the Intelligent Machine , Marvin Minsky’s Artificial Intelligence, Simon Penny’s The Darwin Machine: Artificial Life and Interactive Art, Patrik Schumacher’s essay Responsive Environments – From Drawing to Scripting, various essays by Lev Manovich including image after the matrix , Craig Reynolds’ ‘Boids’, Cellular Automata, John Conway’s game of life, dynamic, non-linear and chaotic systems, Chuck Hoberman’s transformable designs et al . Evidently this specific concern has its roots in a cloud of diverse interests ranging from material computation, artificial intelligence and robotics, kinetic, transformable & deployable architecture, data and information-diagramming & event-driven architecture, ‘emergent’ phenomena, etc.

In essence, the argument is situated within the ongoing dialectic between various strands of discourse on design processes and research: ‘top-down’ versus ‘bottom up’ systems of design(as summarized by Nikos Salingaros ), ‘emergent’ phenomena, responsive and programmable architecture (as espoused by Kas Oosterhuis ), ‘evolutionary architecture‘etc. The argument will draw from a ‘Data-Cloud’ and attendant research that operates in the foreground this dialectic.

The purpose of the paper then, is to clarify a stance / direction emanating from the above-mentioned ‘cloud’, and moving toward a distilled and focussed interest in computational geometry and ‘parametrics’, and a broader interest in situating computing within processes of design and research.

“…the reason to make art (and to write) is to understand, rather than because one already understands, (exploration not explication)…”

Brett Staulbaum, Database Logic(s) and Landscape Art ,http://www.c5corp.com/research/databaselogic.shtml [accessed December 2004].




1 “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.
[Accessed March 2005]

2 Salingaros,Nikos: Design Methods, Emergence and Collective Intelligence, Katarxis No.3,
In a discussion on design methods and the equivalency of the two methods he posits – top down and bottom up, he argues that any design method has to privilege ‘human functions and sensibilities’. Further, he argues any method attempting to do so, has to focus its design principles towards a process of ‘adaptation’.

Top down design strategy: Salingaros defines this ‘school’ as one which employs existing, historically distilled typologies of designs to inform their own designs.
Bottom up design strategy: Salingaros defines such a design method as one which attempts breed the building through real time processes. For more see above.

Salingaros also offers another dimension to adaptability, i.e. as differentiated from self-organizing systems. He argues that self-organizing systems operate on a internalized logic and support and sustain their own growth and evolution, whilst ‘adaptive systems’ develop on the basis on inputs from its environment.

3 “Realtime architecture has the ambition to produce dataflow in realtime, to shape the flow of 3d movements of the users in realtime, to rganize the flow of matter in realtime, to engineer the communication from product to product, product to user, and user to user in realtime • Active programmable architecture based on realtime calculation techniques is the way to go for the near future of the profession of architecture and for the building industry • Matter and products become aware of themselves and their users, they embark on a serious road to a full interactive communication process •”

for more see:
Oosterius, Kas:The Form of Change: real-time architecture, pg1.< http://www.oosterhuis.nl/quickstart/index.php?id=259>
[Accessed March 05 2005]

4 Ted Kruger, uses the word in reference to the collection set of information that forms and aids the process of (architectural) design. For more see:
Kruger, Ted: Instrument and Instrumentality.
V2_Lab; Workshops, lecture Ted Krueger,<www. lab.v2.nl/events/_docs/lecture_krueger.pdf>, pg 1.
[Accessed February 2005]