Digital technology has introduced in the last decades data-driven representational and generative methodologies based on principles such as parametric definition and algorithmic processing. In this context, the 15th Footprint issue examines the development of data-driven techniques such as digital drawing, modelling, and simulation with respect to their relationship to design.
The dynamics between data-driven processes and design, as well as the impact of these processes on artistic and architectural production, is addressed in 5 papers from authors with diverse backgrounds in media studies, art, and architecture. From theoretical explorations discussing cultural swarming techniques and data-driven design representation and materialisation aspects to practical (artistic and architectural) experimentation, this issue indicates the increasing convergence of computational and material systems. Furthermore, it addresses the generation of multiple, emergent results from one and the same computational representation – results that may be realized virtually at the level of design conceptualization, physically at the level of production, and even operationally at the level of artefact or building use where users or the environment contribute to the emergence of multiple physical configurations and outcomes. Data-driven design thereby establishes an unprecedented design to production to operation feedback loop.
Issue's editors: Henriette Bier and Terry Knight
Henriette Bier and Terry Knight, editors | Introduction: Data-Driven Design to Production and OperationAbstract Article [free PDF]
Digital technology has introduced in the last decades data-driven representational and generative methodologies based on principles such as parametric definition and algorithmic processing. In this context, the 15th Footprint issue examines the development of data-driven techniques such as digital drawing, modelling, and simulation with respect to their relationship to design. The data propelling these techniques may consist of qualitative or quantitative values and relations that are algorithmically processed. However, the focus here is not on each technique and its respective representational and generative aspects, but on the interface between these techniques and design conceptualisation, materialization, and use.
Sebastian Vehlken | Computational Swarming: A Cultural Technique for Generative ArchitectureAbstract Article [free PDF]
After a first wave of digital architecture in the 1990s, the last decade saw some approaches where agent-based modelling and simulation (ABM) was used for generative strategies in architectural design. By taking advantage of the self-organisational capabilities of computational agent collectives whose global behaviour emerges from the local interaction of a large number of relatively simple individuals (as it does, for instance, in animal swarms), architects are able to understand buildings and urbanscapes in a novel way as complex spaces that are constituted by the movement of multiple material and informational elements. As a major, zoo-technological branch of ABM, Computational Swarm Intelligence (SI) coalesces all kinds of architectural elements – materials, people, environmental forces, traffic dynamics, etc. – into a collective population. Thereby, SI and ABM initiate a shift from geometric or parametric planning to time-based and less prescriptive software tools.
Agent-based applications of this sort are used to model solution strategies in a number of areas where opaque and complex problems present themselves – from epidemiology to logistics, and from market simulations to crowd control. This article seeks to conceptualise SI and ABM as a fundamental and novel cultural technique for governing dynamic processes, taking their employment in generative architectural design as a concrete example. In order to avoid a rather conventional application of philosophical theories to this field, the paper explores how the procedures of such technologies can be understood in relation to the media-historical concept of Cultural Techniques.
Leonel Moura and Henrique Garcia Pereira | A New Kind of Art [based on autonomous collective robotics]Abstract Article [free PDF]
The paper addresses the rationale of a process that produces artworks made by a swarm of robots. This process relies on the interaction, though the environment, of a set of robots designed to create spatiotemporal patterns from an initial homogeneous medium (the canvas). Inspired by social insect societies, the approach presented here exploits robot-robot and robot-environment interactions to develop emergent behaviour. The swarm intelligence concept is crucial to this approach because the viability of the team (group of robots) is required in order to achieve the viability of the individual. Without any central coordination or plan, the group of robots produces its artworks on the basis of a data-driven (bottom-up) process. Moreover, each robot can be viewed as an autonomous agent because it has on board all the resources required to provide the global outcome of the experiment, including sensors, actuators, and the controller, which demonstrates a reactive behaviour by reinforcing a previously made signal (positive feedback). The process is also presented in the context of Machine Art, and a detailed technical description of each robot is given, as well as an example of artworks produced by the collective behaviour of the set of robots.
Zeynep Mennan | Minding the Gap: Reconciling Formalism and Intuitionism in Computational Design ResearchAbstract Article [free PDF]
The paper discusses the epistemological and methodological implications of an increasing process of formalisation and naturalisation of knowledge within the context of the complexity paradigm. This process is argued to induce a shift in the nature of notations and representations, to which corresponds an epistemic shift from a graphic to a computational rationality, with substantial effects on current design methodologies and strategies used in computational design. The shortcomings of a heavy formalism are discussed with respect to a possible reconciliation between the operational efficiency of formalist representations and the recovery of the phenomenological grounds of design experimentations through a simultaneous articulation of formalist and intuitionist approaches in computational design research.
Eran Neuman | Data Reshaped: Literalism in the Age of Digital Design and Architectural FabricationAbstract Article [free PDF]
This essay examines the recent shift in the perception of literalism in architecture as a result of the advent of digital media and the emergence of digital design processes. Whereas pre-digital literalism in art and architecture focused on the object and on space respectively, digital literalism is based on data transliteration and the design p rocesses themselves. Referring to theoretical discourses that frame literal expressions as non-representational, non-metaphorical and non-analogical utterances, the essay delves into the ways in which data-based expressions become literal. The ability to digitally transliterate data and have it articulated in several (virtual or physical) media enables the creation of multiple expressions of the same data that are literal with respect to each other. The essay outlines these transformations and argues that they reflect significant changes in architectural design processes and their literalisation.
Michael Hensel and Søren Sørensen | Intersecting Knowledge Fields and Integrating Data-Driven Computational Design en Route to Performance-Oriented and Intensely Local ArchitecturesAbstract Article [free PDF]
This paper discusses research by design efforts in architectural education, focused on developing concepts and methods for the design of performance-oriented and intensely local architectures. The pursued notion of performance foregrounds the interaction between a given architecture and its local setting, with consequences not only for the design product but also for the related processes by which it is generated. Integrated approaches to data-driven computational design serve to generate such designs. The outlined approach shifts the focus of design attention away from the delivery of finite architectural objects and towards an expanded range of architecture-environment interactions that are registered, instrumentalised and modulated over time. This paper examines ongoing efforts in integrating specific architectural goals and approaches, computational data-driven design methods and generative design processes, based on a range of context-specific and often real-time data sets. The work discussed is produced in the context of the Research Centre for Architecture and Tectonics (RCAT) and the Advanced Computational Design Laboratory (ACDL) at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.