15 April 2013

Week 13 Discussion, Part II

Antoine Picon - Architecture, Science, Technology, and the Virtual Realm

1.  “In recent years a growing number of images and metaphors taken from mathematics, physics, and molecular biology have spread among architects… The productive character of certain episodes in history of relations between science and architecture is perhaps attributable to the existence of similarities between operations upon which science and architecture are based” (pp. 293-294.)  In the reading, Picon lists topology, fractals, chaos theory, and DNA sequencing as some contemporary examples of this trend.  Can you see a productive character between architecture and design processes and some of these metaphors, or are they simply “mere rhetorical habit?” 

2.        “What is the reality of architectural design?  It is precisely a virtual reality.” (p. 296) How is design among the virtual dimensions of architecture? 

3.  Picon postulates that architectural form in a computer-based virtual reality no longer is the ultimate result of a process of research, and is instead the result of an arbitrary stop in an endless process of geometric transformation; a cross-section in a continuous geometrical flow (p. 303.) What do you see as the difference between computer-based virtual reality and more conventional design methods that would cause these new forms to become more like a “snapshot or videogram?”  Do you agree with Picon’s sentiment?  

4.  From the last question, Picon questions our ability to judge the beauty of forms created through computer-based virtual reality, due in part to an impression of arbitrariness.  How has the ascent of use of diagrams in design being used to as a possible antidote to combat this arbitrariness?   (pp. 304-305)

5.  Is the computer “symptomatic of a profound change in the way we make worlds,” as Picon states on page 301?  Or, is the way that we design being fundamentally changed to accommodate the computer?  

6.  The UN Studio (Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos) use diagrams as a part of “deep planning,” which aims to integrate as many data as possible, with the goal of avoiding any preconceived idea of what urbanism and architecture should be about, and to stave off any premature recourse to form (pp 305-606.)  Can the use of data and diagrams as evidence successfully stave off all preconceived notions?

7.  “The aim of the architect is no longer to promote an alternative, and allegedly better, world but to take the world as it is, to contribute to the further actualization of its potential rather than bring about the advent of a remote utopia” (p. 307.)  How is this definition more (or less) suitable to what we as architects would like to accomplish?  

8.  What are some of the problems that Picon notes about digital architectural forms in regards to scale and texture?

9.  What is the significance of Picon’s use of the cyborg as a metaphor on page 310?  

10.  How does digital architecture represent opportunity to reestablish links with contemporary science?  (p. 311)

- Dan Kornaus -

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