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Workshop 4 report

The fourth Digital Crafting Workshop ”Generative logics: How to grow” was held at the Aarhus School of Architecture January 17-18 2011.  Roland Snooks who is partner in Kokkugia and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and at the University of Southern California (USC) led the two-day workshop. During these days the participants worked with agent-based scripting using the open source software ”Processing”. Discussions and lectures during the workshop related to the question of how designers can use agents-based scripts as a means to explore spatial and formal configuration and how these configurations can relate to material performance and structural logic.

The first day kicked of with a crash course in ”Processing” introducing the basic structure and functionality of the software. From this starting point a basic script was gradually developed to incorporate more complex capabilities exploring agent-based behaviour. These explorations were based on swarm theory as formulated by Craig Reynolds. Reynolds’ work with ‘boids’ describes how individual agents can form swarm behaviour as seen in bird flocks or fish swarms by having each individual agent adjust its position to other agents by considering separation, cohesion and alignment.

The first day was concluded by a reception at the opening of a student exhibition of space installations related to the ‘Morphogenic Studio’ run by Niels Martin Larsen, Sebastian Gmelin and Claus Peder Pedersen at the Aarhus School of Architecture.

The second day was spent on further developing the agent-based scripts. They were expanded to incorporate interfaces that allowed for a more direct and intuitive manipulation of the various parameters controlling the agents hinting at a more general discussion on how to work with scripting as a design tool. The development also included discussions on how to interpret the animated agents and the resulting complex data structures into spatial configurations. This part of the workshop focused especially on using isosurfaces as a way of creating formally coherent structures from clouds of points.

The workshop contained a presentation by Martin Tamke that discussed how agent-based scripting could be used to design a tectonic structure. The presentation was based on an exploration of zollinger construction-principle, where short interlocking members create statically stable construction. Moving from a top-down to a bottom-up organisation Martin discussed how a successful design strategy was developed by encoding individual elements of the structure with instructions on how to attach to other elements, rather than by subdividing a large surface.

The last part of the workshop explored how agent-based behaviours could be used in cellular automata scripts. Finally movies were exported from the scripts to wrap up the workshop. They document some of the different behaviours and variations created through the two days.

Workshop 4 Generative logics : How to grow

Workshop 4
– How to grow

Date: 17.-18. January 2011

The workshop guest is Roland Snooks from Kokkugia
Presentation during workshop by Martin Tamke from CITA

This workshop/seminar will investigate the role of distributed agency within the design process. Algorithmic logic will be used as platform for developing intensive modes of formation. By exploring the structures by which this logic is shaped, the workshop queries how concepts such as generative design and emergence can lead to new models of organization and form in architectural design.

The workshop/seminar focuses on the potential of algorithmic techniques. Through simple rule based systems it is possible to create complex formations similar to behaviours and patterns found in the nature, such as flocking formations, swarm behaviours and plant growth patterns. These systems can then be used as a generative process in the development of the form and organization, where the task of the designer becomes more about setting up rules and parameters that effects the form generating process, rather than explicitly defining form itself. In this lies a possibility for the designer to focus on the tectonic logic of the project as a starting point, moving towards a bottom- up approach to architectural formation. Algorithmic methodologies enable architects to engage emergence, self-organization, and swarm intelligence in the design process, linking the work of architects and designers to developments in biology and computation.

The workshop will introduce tools to engage with self-organization and swarm-based design using the Processing programming language. Processing is an open source platform developed mainly for graphic designers and artists, who want to operate algorithmically without the overhead of advanced programming. It has a simple and playful functionality while also remaining powerful, being largely based on the well-known programming language, Java. The participants of the workshop will be introduced to some of the logics in programming and template applets will be used as a starting point for exploring some of the possibilities in agent-based form generation and self-organization.

Workshop questions:
What is the potential of using algorithmic methods in the design process?
How can terms, such as emergence and swarm intelligence, be operative in the design process?
What are the implications for authorship within algorithmic design methodologies?
How can tectonic concerns be seeded at a local level in facilitating the realization of the project?

Workshop programme: Digital Crafting 04

Venue: The workshop takes place at Aarhus School of Architecture – Nørreport 20 – 8000 Århus. Studsgade Auditoriet.

Workshop 4: Generative Logics

Date: Autumn semester 2010: 17.-18.01.2011
Venue: Aarhus University School of Architecture

Workshop: How to grow

The workshop investigates now the introduction of a digital platform for design and fabrication introduces a new mathematical depth to the drawing plane. Here, conditional statements, loops and iterations become part of the design language. By exploring the structures by which this logic is shaped, the workshop queries how concepts such as generative design and emergence can lead to new ways of thinking organisation and programme in architectural design.