Designing for a Digital World (Architectural Design)

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9780470844199: Designing for a Digital World (Architectural Design)

Digital technologies are changing the way that we live and work today. But what impact are they having on the discipline of architecture?
This volume brings together some of the world′s leading voices from digital theory, technology and design to address this question. With a discussion ranging from broad cultural concerns to new techniques of construction, Designing for a Digital World offers a snapshot of informed opinion at a crucial juncture in the history of the discipline.
Contributors:
Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos (UN Studio)
Sarah Chaplin
Karl S Chu (Metaxy)
Richard Coyne
Manuel DeLanda
Andrew Gillespie
Mark Goulthorpe (dECOi)
Marcelyn Gow
Jeffrey Inaba (AMO)
Neil Leach
William J Mitchell
Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera Polo (Foreign Office Architects)
Sadie Plant
Hani Rashid (Asymptote)
Douglas Rushkoff
Patrik Schumacher
Lars Spuybroek (NOX)
Sherry Turkle
David Turnbull (ATOPIA)
Yvonne Wilhelm, Christian Huebler and Andreas Broeckmann (Knowbotic Research)
Slavoj Zizek

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction by Neil Leach

This volume attempts to address a new paradigm a condition in which digital technologies have started to have a significant impact on the ways in which we live and work. For so long much debate about the potential of these technologies has operated within the realms of visionary speculation, as though it were a branch of science fiction. Recent developments, however, have caused us to rethink that outlook. The demise of various hi-tech shares on the stock exchange has taught us that operations within the digital realm - however seemingly novel and exciting - will have no value unless they impact directly upon the material world. At the same time, the ways in which digital technologies are actually influencing the world are becoming increasingly recognisable. Working practices, social interaction and many other facets of contemporary life have been radically changed. The world is becoming digitalised. But how is this changing the discipline of architecture? And what are the lessons for the future.

This volume brings together some of the world's leading voices from cultural theory, technology and design. It offers a snapshot of informed opinion at a crucial juncture in the history of the interface between the discipline of architecture and digital technologies. In doing so it also provides a glimpse of some of the emerging ideas and cutting edge practices that are likely to be setting the pace for the future. But although the volume offers a preview of a possible future world, it is grounded in actual practices which are already taking place. It addresses the concrete impact that digital technologies are already having on our everyday lives. In this sense, the volume is as much about the present as it is about the future; as much about the e-present, as it is about e-futures.

Digital Tectonics
Within the discipline of architecture the impact of this new paradigm has been especially marked. For some time now various architects have been exploring the potentialities of the digital domain. This has led to some exciting visual imagery that has hitherto remained confined largely to the utopian world of the screen. Within architectural schools such as Columbia University, New York, which was one of those to lead the way in the early explorations in this field, this free invention' - as it was seen by its critics - spawned a critical counter-culture of 'tectonics' that is perhaps best articulated by commentators such as Kenneth Frampton. Architecture, according to this viewpoint, is a question of building, and forms generated on the screen are just utopian fantasies if they do not conform to the tectonic requirements of the real world. And indeed these critics may have a point. There is a big difference between designing a building according to the algorithmic potential of software programs and the tectonic parameters of actual building materials.

There comes a time, however, when those architects experimenting at the very forefront of digital design begin to realise their designs in a material world. Here we might point to much of the design work featured in this volume, work which seems to take its inspiration from the new territories of formal exploration opened up by the digital realm, but which is directed ultimately towards realisation in the material world. The old opposition of 'tectonic versus digital design' has given way to a new tectonics of digital design. And, of course, architects are not the only members of the construction team to benefit from advances afforded by the computer. Everyone has been affected by the possibilities of digitally modelling the performance of a building, especially structural engineers. Software programs are allowing engineers to understand in far more detail the stresses and strains of surface tectonics. The collaboration between engineers like Cecil Balmond and various avant-garde architects is helping to generate a new language of architectural form. The whole construction team has entered a new paradigm. It is no longer a question of the digital versus the material, but of the digital in the service of the material.

Eventually the sheer volume of work produced in this mode will bring about a new way of thinking about architecture. But it is only when a building of major significance - such as Jorn Utzon's Sydney Opera House or Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain - has been completed that the experimental work of the avant-garde is recognised by the general public. In this respect the construction of major projects, such as the competition-winning design for the Yokohama Ferry Terminal in Japan by Foreign Office Architects, marks a crucial moment in the interface between digital technologies and the realm of architecture. Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zacra Polo of Foreign Office Architects describe their rollercoaster ride in translating this project from the digital realm into a physical one. It is only through the computers sophisticated operations that the building's complex mutating form could be effectively described. Their design for the ferry terminal folds programmatic, constructional and structural concerns into a single formal expression. Yet in order to resolve the complex interplay between these concerns, the profile of the building needed to be explored on the computer through an ever more finely calibrated series of sections. This project was not only born of the digital - it was also realised through the digital.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we might point to the exquisitely tooled formal explorations led by Greg Lynn and Marcelyn Gow, using computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) milling processes. These rapid processing experiments demonstrate a form of modelling that is surely to be adopted more widely within the construction industry. For the computer can be used not only to calculate and 'tool' up individual building components, as happened with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but also to help fabricate individual formal studies that feed into stage one of the design process.

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Book Description John Wiley & Sons March 2002, 2002. Trade Paperback. Book Condition: New. Digital technologies are changing the way that we live and work today. But what impact are they having on the discipline of architecture?This volume brings together some of the world's leading voices from digital theory, technology and design to address this question. With a discussion ranging from broad cultural concerns to new techniques of construction, Designing for a Digital World offers a snapshot of informed opinion at a crucial juncture in the history of the discipline.Contributors: Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos (UN Studio)Sarah ChaplinKarl S Chu (Metaxy)Richard CoyneManuel DeLandaAndrew GillespieMark Goulthorpe (dECOi)Marcelyn GowJeffrey Inaba (AMO)Neil LeachWilliam J MitchellFarshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera Polo (Foreign Office Architects)Sadie PlantHani Rashid (Asymptote)Douglas RushkoffPatrik SchumacherLars Spuybroek (NOX)Sherry TurkleDavid Turnbull (ATOPIA)Yvonne Wilhelm, Christian Huebler and Andreas Broeckmann (Knowbotic Research)Slavoj Zizek. Bookseller Inventory # 106102

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