CTRL + Z: The limits of computational design in regard to the complexity of the human mind

SCHEME: AFR PhD

CALL: 2016

DOMAIN: ID - Humanities and Social Sciences

FIRST NAME: Nathalie

LAST NAME: Kerschen

INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP / PPP: No

INDUSTRY / PPP PARTNER:

HOST INSTITUTION: McGill University

KEYWORDS: architectureimagecomputationtechnologysimulacrumcode

START: 2016-09-02

END: 2019-09-01

WEBSITE:

Submitted Abstract

Since the advent of the personal computer, digital design systems assist the architect in his practice of creating images, sketches, models, and plans. In the last thirty years, these programs underwent significant changes allowing the architect to look past the three-dimensional forms on the screen, and to intervene on the geometry-itself by changing the embedded script. Through the use of form finding and evolutionary algorithms the designer is invited to transcend the human sphere of imagination, and to generate for the human mind unconceivable geometrical forms. (Alexander) Although beneficial on the scale of the architectural object in terms of performance, the use of algorithms and computation as a driver for form at the scale of the discipline proves highly problematic insofar as it reduces the design process, embodied perception (Merleau-Ponty) and the lifeworld (Husserl) to the rationale of the code. Hence, one might wonder whether it is the architect or the economy of logico-mathematical processes at work that produce the architectural project. In my research, I look at the phenomenological difference between thinking and imagining geometrical form and atmospheres (Pérez-Gomèz) within contemporary practice as a means to overcome the modern crisis architecture is facing since the technologically driven attitude became the dominant one. More specifically, I critically investigate what the architect Achim Menges coins as “computational design thinking” in his design processes through the lens of his engagement with “natural processes,” and read these findings through the work of interdisciplinary artist Olafur Eliasson and his use of “advanced geometry,” embodied experience, and metaphor to “express” Nature. Hence, by analyzing the way both proponents address Nature in their projects through geometry and technology, my aim is to unpack the underlying belief systems and truth systems upon which they rely, i.e. what is said “about” (Ricoeur) Nature, technology and geometry in general.

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