Experiments exploring Computational Design-and- Build Strategies based on Participation
Keywords:on-site sensing and construction technologies, participatory design, computational design, emergent design, custom robotic devices, digital construction
This article summarises a series of experiments at the Architectural Association between 2011 and 2017, which explore the intellectual notion of ‘the architecture machine’ as introduced by Nicholas Negroponte and the Architecture Machine Group at MIT in 1967. The group explored automated computational processes that could assist the process of generating architectural solutions by incorporating much greater levels of complexity at both large and small scales. A central idea to the mission of the Architecture Machine Group was to enable the future inhabitants to participate in the decision-making process on the spatial configurations. The group aimed to define architecture as a spatial system that could directly correlate with human social activities through the application of new computer technologies.
Our research presented here focuses on technologies and workflows that trace and translate human activities into architectural structures in order to continue the research agenda set out by Negroponte and others in the 1970s. The research work discusses new scenarios for the creation of architectural structures, using mobile and low-cost fabrication devices, and generative design algorithms driven by sensory technologies. The research question focuses on how architects may script individual and unique processes for generating structures using rule-sets that organise materiality and spatial relationships in order to achieve a user-driven outcome.
Our explorations follow a renewed interest in the paradigm where the architect is a ‘process designer’, aiming to generate emergent outcomes where the inherent complexity of the project is generated towards specific performance criteria related to human activities and inhabitation.