Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On Mutability in Architecture:

Recently, while perusing through my thesis sketchbook of last Spring, I ran across what can now be considered, in significant hindsight, as a catalog of approaches to architectural mutability. All of these, I would consider are common / historical examples as I looked for my own medium, which ended up relying heavy on the sciences. Some follow sci-fi approaches, some just human ingenuity in time of crisis. Take a look?

This first page explores the principals of self-organization, and like any good student, is the replication of Boids Birds. The act of flocking in nature is observed to have no General, but only ad-hoc communication between organisms which follow simple rules to work together. As designers, the instinctual decisions are applied in defining those simple rules to manipulate responses, which are only marginally predictable. A useful tool in foregoing entirely assumption based design, and allowing reactionary architecture to surface. The main criticism? It's reactionary :)

 You can't go wrong with small robots which live in the walls, watch how you live, then collect and re-organize junk in order to formulate a hard-edged spatial depiction of an everyday routine. The implication of SPATIAL RECONFIGURATORS is a designer's reaction to green washing products stamped as sustainable, whereas in reality, to make aging spaces useful again it is necessary to invent new methodologies for the items around us which may be considered unusable. Re-use is extreme recycling, and robo-stalker-junk-accumulators are extreme re-use. I must be an environmentalist.

Man-made Mutability takes a strong influence from Leebus Wood's past-futuristic war scenarios where average man is often called upon to invent new spatial languages based on what's left post-bombing run. Having done some studying in the Favelas, I have an appreciation for this kind of improvised work commonly found in slums. The informality frees creativity, in both of the examples, borne out of necessity. Found materials, re-purposed, new connection types invented to combine these things. It's fascinating, and admirable work both in fantasy and reality.

The culmination of these initial efforts were two disappointingly predictable results in determinable form. Project:Flex to the left, is just that, a flexible  muscle which allows for a tight womb, or a soft-edge grand hall, with only medium in between. SpatialBreakout is a less exciting sketch of the same principals of those robots we looked at before. While I find these early proposals without much depth, I do think there is work being done on the larger body, where new forms of interaction with environs are currently in question. It's not so much whether or not we can find shelter as fortunate people of a rich nation, but how can we find new livable experiences within our dwellings at home, work, school, or dreaded doctor's office. UserExperience design is about virtual storefronts in today's market, but the spatial neglect will be short lived. Architects re-purposed as UX designers of the physical world?

Clearly, all of these subjects show their faces more or less in the thesis package at the point of presentation, which, if you haven't already, can read about in previous posts! Please discuss!

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