Master's Final Project - Departure Point

Something that's been present in a lot of the work that I've done (both professionally and academically) has been this interest in automation of the design process. Specifically looking at what sort of processes can be automated and critically evaluating the effect it has on the eventual product. A common attitude that I've encountered in both conversations with design critics as well as writings about automation (and I might start using the word parametrics interchangeable for automation even though I think there are subtle differences) is that the aesthetic effects of it should be fought against. I've always felt that this wasn't the most productive attitude because I've always thought of automation as a tool (and I'm paraphrasing Chris Erwin, a coworker I had at Thornton Tomasetti here) to, "automate the tasks that I don't like doing so I can focus my creative energies on problems I enjoy." This attitude I've also found mirrored in the work of Sergio Albiac, an artist whose process moves back and forth from digital and analog processes. Here's how he describes his process: Generative sketching or writing computer programs togenerate images that will be used as painting input, allows me to modify this traditional cycle of idea-sketch-work and transform the route and the goals with a degree of freedom that greatly stimulates my creativity. Now, the “sketching” begins with a very abstract idea in mind. Once you get used to transform ideas into computer code, generative sketching allows the exploration of artistic alternatives and it produces inspirational feedback in a way that is radically different as the traditional sketching process. Then, the generative sketch can become the final work or it can “demand” the rendering of a picture using traditional media.


Generative Sketch by Sergio Albiac

 Being reflective on the role that automation has in your process is one thing... I'm also interested in investigating sorts of problems that can only be solved through a rigorous process of defining the rules of action and acting on those rules in an uncompromising way. An architectural example that come's to mind is Christopher Alexander's "Houses Generated by Patterns." And finally, this project is also providing a testing ground for what a truly collaborative design project could look like as I've decided to team up with two of my extremely talented classmates Sangyong Hahn and Hwan Kim (hence the use of "we" and "I").

We've been asked by our critic to create a number of theses statements with a different number of word counts (100, 50, 25, 12, and 6). Our fifty word one is probably the closest to the spirit of the project as I'm currently envisioning it:

"Architecture is fighting a losing battle against obsolescence. The technology that surrounds us is constantly updating and improving, and any belief that the buildings we make can be timeless is wrong. Our project is to develop a strategy to adaptively reuse a ubiquitous building stock everywhere it exists in the world."