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Radical Technologies

cheem. don’t understand a lot of things.

  • If automation was initially brought to bear on tasks that were one or more of the “four Ds” – dull, dirty, difficult or dangerous….

The predecessor of NParks was called Parks and Recreation Department.

From essay by Jun Aoki

  • In crude terms, there are two types of architects – one type appreciates plastic forms as architecture, while the other type appreciates the atmosphere embrace within those forms as architecture. Needless to say, architecture is a physical environment that takes shape using materials. Essentially, architecture is a plastic thing. But if the plastic forms are considered to be the negative of the work, there is also the atmosphere contained within, or the positive of the work. With a negative-positive combination, neither can stand onits own. Yet even so, every architect places gravity on one or the other, and this differentiates architects into the ‘plastic group’ or the ‘atmospheric group’

From essay by Taro Igarashi

  • For architecture, which must always obey the laws of gravity to exist on our planet, the elimination of weightness is the ulimate drea. In Gothic cathedrals, for instance, even with their structures of solid stone, there are dematerialized, radiant interior spaces created in which the feeling of the stone material seems to have vanished> even Modernism, which was liberated from wall structure via the use of transparent glass, its abstract compositions that could retain form even when reversed, and its use of pilotis and other devices to elevate buildings, may well be said to ahve been seeking such a buoyancy.
  • … I was rather surprised by the conversation between Junya Ishigami and his assistants. They were going over the design studies and saying things like, ‘Which one’s cute?’ The focus of their value judgements was on ‘cute’.
  • It was in late 2007, when the project planner Tomoharu Makabe organized a design symposium called ‘Cute Paradigm’, that the theme of cute bagan making the rounds of the Japanese architecture scene.
  • But the members of Junya Ishigami’s firm are actually using the word ‘cute’ as they create. According to Ishigami, during his sojourn at SANAA, he often heard Kazuyo Sejima speaking of things as being ‘cute’.
  • Exterme Nature: Landscape Of Ambiguous Spaces (16 mm square pillars and girders. 8mm glass hung like a curtain, ordered specially from Japan as they could not be procured locally in Venice)
  • Architecture as Air: thin pillars 0.9 mm by 4 m tall


cuboid balloon


japanese pavillion



  • Although technology is a tool of man, who asserts himself against all the rest of nature by using technology against nature, we nevertheless understand it as a product of the natural object man and thus also as a part of nature. He has simply made use of it for himself. now at last he recognizes that he is disturbing, damaging, destroying her. He is increasingly looking for ways of preserving her. He tries to be a part of nature, a part of the whole. His means is technology that is compatible with nature.
  • The biotope building, the city as an ecological system, the way to the minimal mass building, to the minimal energy building, that is at one with the landscape and at the same time architecture, is to be found. The task is a difficult one. Solutions are hardly to be expected, as there is no such thing as the building and the city. There is just an infinite number of houses and cities that can all be approximately optimal in terms of energy in a away that is suitable for their time.
  • Part of current philosophy is a humanities subject for nature models that are no longer topical. Physicists, doctors, architects, engineers are working on new nature images. This makes them the real philosophers of today. They do not arrive at one understanding of nature, but many. Ultimately every consciously living human being has his own!
  • All material objects in nature and technology have form and are put together; thus they are constructions. Natural objects are natural constructions. They come into being as a result of self-formation processes. Man can both stimulate natural processes and also do artificial things.

Use of software in the arts can be separated into two categories: production and conception. In the first, the computer is used to produce a preconceived form; in the second, the computer participates in the development of the form.

Using a computer to reduce the amount of time needed to create a complex, repetitive composition was often the motivation for early adoption of software into creative process. EG. in the field of animation where subtle changes had to be repeated thousands times. It is efficient way of facilitating the creative process by enabling mroe time for exploration and less time for final production.


The desire to construct a system for composing images, rather than making a single image, has a long history in modern art. Marcel Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages from 1913-1914 is an early and fascinating example. (other names: Experimental writers Tristan Tzara and William S. Burroughs, Musician John Cage)

While it’s clear that these early compositional systems relied heavily on chance, these artworks are important within the context of parameters in that each of their creators defined a set rules where some elements were selected by themselves and others resulted from events outside of their control. They invented systems from which an infinite number of unique works could (and did) emerge. This way of working is summarized well by Sol LeWitt’s statement:”The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”(Alexander Alberro an Blake Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology


egs: The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris


Is modelling the natural world with precision the ultimate goal of software simulation? In some situations, the answer is a definite yes; for example, scientific weather and traffic simulations are only useful when they are realistic. Within other domains, such as design, architecture, and art, high fidelity is less important than the final experience. Bending the rules can create something unexpected and sublime. Simulation can be a precise tool, but also a foundation for something beyond.

Every simulation has three parts: variables, a system, and a state.

The ability to simulate physics has had a substantial impact on architecture and engineering. These tools allow engineers to simulate how forces and loads move through virtual structures. Based on the outcome, the model is modified and the simulation is run again until an optimal combination of structure and material is found. (e.g. CCTV Tower (David Owen, “The Anti-Gravity Men,” The New Yorker))


Perhaps the most famous piece of creative software is Harold Cohen’s AARON>


Karl Sims’ Evolved Virtual Creatures, created in 1994, was a breakthrough in a-life. The project is so convincing that it remains relevant over fifteen years later. Through software, Sims was able to simulate the evolution of creatures to perform different tasks, such as swimming, walking, jumping, and following. Eventually he added the ability for two creatures to compete against one another to control possession of a cube. He did this by simulating the basic physical properties of gravity, friction, and collision, and then building creatures that could evolve at amazingly fast rates through cross breeding and mutation. The genotype of his creatures is a directed graph, and the phenotype is a hierarchy of 3-D parts. At each generation, some creatures were allowed to survive and reproduce based on their fitness, how well they performed the current task. For example, how well did they swim, walk, jump, or follow? To communicate the results, Sims produced an appealing series of short animations that featured the creatures in action. The most fascinating aspect of the project was the diversity of strategies the creatures developed to meet their goals. Despite the primitive geometry and limited joints, they had the essence of living, self-motivated animals.

Other eg: NASA X-band antenna. NASA claims the generated designs have potential to outperform those designed by expert engineers. Additionally, the generated antennae often have radically different forms compared to those designed by hand. In general, GAs have the potential to find unique forms that more traditional design approaches overlook.

GAs and evolutionary thinking have played an important role in contemporary architectural theory and practice. John Frazer’s 1995 book An Evolutionary Architecture presents the genetic algorithm as a technique for creating novel forms that bridge the form-function divide. Theorist Karl Chu has explored the intersection of computer and genetic code as an avenue for exploring possible futures.


Cellular Automata (e.g.s Stephen Wolfram)


Unnatural Selection: Designer as a gardener, choosing favourite specimens and culling weeds to encourage the system to grow in a desired direction. (e.g Evolutionary Computation by moh architects, Strandbeest by Theo Jansen)



Structural  Engineering is the Art of moulding materials we do not wholly understand into shapes we cannot precisely analyse, so as to withstand forces we cannot really assess, in such a way that the community at large has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance. – Dr. A.R.Dykes

People are apathetic about politics because they don’t feel that they have the power to change anything.

Filmmaking, Scripwriting, Architecture: develop a narrative strung together in a smart, compelling, interesting way.

Montage technique of film. Splice together two very different moments/visual entities in a way that works.

An architect should be a good writer, a skillful draftsman, versed in geometry and optics, expert at figures, acquainted with history, informed on the principles of natural and moral philosophy, somewhat of a musician, not ignorant of the law and of physics, nor of the motions, laws, and relations to each other, of the heavenly bodies

Like many people, I was devastated to learn that Lebbeus Woods passed away two nights ago, just as the hurricane was moving out of New York City and as his very neighbourhood, Lower Manhattan, had temporarily become part of the Atlantic seabed, floodwaters pouring into nearby subway tunnels and knocking out power to nearly every building – an event seemingly predicted, or forewarned, by Lebbeus’s own work.

I can’t pretend to have been a confidant of his, let alone a colleague, but Lebbeus’s influence over my own interest in architecture is impossible to exaggerate and his kindness and generosity as a friend to me here in New York City was a reassuring thing to receive. I say this, of course, while referring to someone whose New Year’s toast a few years ago to a room full of friends gathered down at his loft near the Financial District was that we should all have, as he phrased it, a “difficult New Year”. That is, we should all look forward to, even seek out or engineer, a new year filled with the kinds of challenges Lebbeus felt, rightly or not, that we deserved to face, fight, and, in all cases, overcome – the genuine and endless difficulty of pursuing our own ideas, absurd goals no one else might share or even be interested in.

This was the New Year’s wish of a true friend: someone who believes in and trusts your capacity to become what you want to be, and someone who will help to engineer circumstances in which that transformation might most productively occur.

If you were to walk through an architecture school today – and I don’t recommend it – you’d think that the height of invention was to make your building look like a Venus flytrap, or that mathematically efficient triangular spaceframes were the answer to everything, every problem of space and habitability. But this is like someone very good at choosing fonts in Microsoft Word. It doesn’t matter what you can do to the words in your document if those words don’t actually say anything.

Lebbeus will be missed for his formal inventiveness: buildings on stilts, massive seawalls, rotatable buildings that look like snowflakes. Deformed coasts anti-seismically jewelled with buildings. Tombs for Einstein falling through space.

But this would be to miss the motivating absence at the heart of all those explorations, which is that we don’t yet know what the world is, what the Earth is – whether or not there even is a world or an Earth or a universe at all – and architecture is one of the arts of discovering an answer to that question. Even flat-out fabricating an answer to this, meaning that architecture is more mythology than science. But there’s nothing wrong with that. There is, in fact, everything right with that: it is exactly why architecture will always be more heroic than constructing buildings resistant to catastrophic rearrangements of the earth, or throwing colossal spans across canyons and mountain gorges, or turning a hostile landscape into someone’s home.

Architecture is about the lack of stability and how to address it. Architecture is about the void and how to cross it. Architecture is about inhospitability and how to live within it.

Lebbeus Woods would have had it no other way, and – as students, writers, poets, novelists, filmmakers, or mere thinkers – neither should we.

Geoff Manaugh

Writer and editor of BLDGBLOG

There are many things I will miss: the people definitely, the art classes which we sorely lack in SUTD, the grass patches so welcoming to lie on, and the bustling environment where people passionately pursue their interests. Being back in Singapore for less than a week, scenes of Boston still replay vividly in my mind. It’s also strange to note that combinations of letters and numbers such as N57 and W20 can stir such emotions. This is a trip that I definitely learnt much from and will not be able to forget! Hopefully, some of us will be able to head back one day, and it is this thought that makes departure less depressing.