Generative Design

The future of CAD

Anesthetics of Architecture

with 4 comments

Is a title of a book by Neil Leach, where he makes this observation:

The intoxication of the aesthetic leads to an aesthetic of intoxication…

……and a consequent lowering of critical awareness. What results is a culture of mindless consumption, where there is no longer any possibility of meaningful discourse. In such a culture the only effective strategy is one of seduction. Architectural design is reduced to the superficial play of empty, seductive forms, and philosophy is appropriated as an intellectual veneer to justify these forms.

I often wonder if the primary use of generative design falls under this category. Generative Design has many unappealing consequences for designers. The main one is that they are no longer the sole and celebrated source of creativity. While architects struggle to make their mark, driven by what can be computationally defined as “novelty seeking strategies”  engineers seem to be making quite progress producing real results that sometimes go unnoticed.

Though less exciting as an endeavor, boiler-plate optimization strategies can produce significant improvements on quantifiable performance of buildings. A good example of is the work done at Stanford University on school buildings and another one done by Caldas in the university of Lisbon which uses generative strategies to explore form variations producing quantifiable beneficial results.

Meaningful discussion on generative design is likely to take place after de- anesthetization, when the sober realities of the limitation of the planets resources are brought to bear by strict building regulations that will inevitable enforce  quantifiable parameters of damage – to be brought to levels that are considered civilized.

Perhaps at this point Generative Design is likely to have some real use.


Thanks to the Digital Morphogenesis Blog for bringing Neil to my attention.

Written by Sivam Krish

April 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Hi Sivam,

    I agree the issue of authorship and the push for novelty is concerning – especially when novelty is justified through attributing authorship to the algorithm. This is an obviously disingenuous act, since anyone who has designed with an algorithm will have experienced the control the architect has over the process, either through selecting the ‘novel’ solution, or in the creation and tweaking of an algorithm. This false lack of authorship is concerning because architects are avoiding their ethical and social responsibilities in their quest for novel form.


    Daniel Davis

    April 30, 2010 at 6:03 am

    • Hi Daniel,

      While the drive for novelty is what makes generative design popular amongst designers, I do not see an issue with authorship as generative design is very much dependent on designers choice. Different designers will come up with different generative schemes and different designs. So the authorship rests with the designer. That’s how I see it.


      Sivam Krish

      June 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

  2. Hey very awesome blog! Really wonderful .. I’ll subscribing to the rss


    December 10, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    • Thanks. Glad you like it. Pls join in on the discussions and share your thoughts.


      Sivam Krish

      December 11, 2010 at 2:58 am

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