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Sean Ahlquist

affiliation: p r o c e s 2 / ICD University Stuttgart


Sean Ahlquist is the founder of Proces2, and currently a Research Associate and PhD Candidate of the Institute for Computational Design at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. Sean holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the Emergent Technologies and Design Program at the Architectural Association in London. His work has spanned practice in both built and theoretical projects, instruction at institutions such as UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, and the AA, and research and publication in computational design and fabrication techniques, including a forthcoming book entitled Computational Design Thinking.

Sean’s work has focused on the concept of process as a series of discreet, layered procedures that are highly specialized to individual projects, contexts, and environments. Design is placed not in the direct production or manipulation of the architecture, but in the creation and composition of mechanisms that, in turn, formulate the reality of the project.  The pursuit, with this approach, is not in authorship, rather in the discovery of systems and complexities that move far beyond what the manual and the intuitional can produce. The work poses architecture as proposition which recognizes and mediates complexity in the creation and functioning of new assemblies of form, organization, and materiality.

Current research involves the development of computational methods which impose material characteristics through the calculation of fundamental physical behaviors. This involves the cross-disciplinary study of biology, biomimetic engineering, and computation. Focusing specifically on tension-active lightweight structures, the research has exposed the possibility of generating new levels of complexity and performance through activating computational tools which function on very low-level rules regarding material behaviors such as elasticity and strength. To manage the interactions and variability within these low-level rule-sets, evolutionary computation is being studied as a means for developing multi-capacitive systems. Ultimately, the work embodies a strategy of enabling design processes to generate material structures that recognize and effectively function across the vast range of conditions that define a holistic architecture comprised of interacting dynamical systems.

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