Generative Design

The future of CAD

An ancient dream

with 4 comments

The history or architecture is  the history of “order”.

Generative design is also about order.

The monarchs of the ancient worlds  believed that the world was disordered. It was therefore their divine duty to establish order . Architects where their accomplice,  ordering magnificent forms with  magical proportions, made with secret formulas based on profound theories that appealed to the ancients. This continued unabated for centuries. Even  the “founding fathers” of Modern Architecture – Le Corbusier was no exception. He too developed his own pseudo scientific system of proportions – that were meant to please the eye, by evoking the principles of rational order.

This ancient dream, of finding order continues today. But it seems to have left its Euclidian shell. Euclidian geometry seems to excite no one now. Alas, the world now seems to be bore of  it.

Mathematics has now evolved to create new concepts of order. We have discovered in this century – that nature is not based on Euclidian geometry, brining an abrupt end to  the rationality of European aesthetics rationality that ordered the world that we grew up in.

Is the profusion of curvy-techture that we see today is an adolescent reaction to this Euclidean sense of order ? perhaps it is. Perhaps an adolescent reaction, because – adolescents don’t bother explaining to others  why they do what they do. To the general public, these contorted shapes appear to allude to nature; in sharp contrast to the Euclidian sensibilites drummed into them.

Architects are now swimming in this anti Euclidian universe that is vast and disordered. Every architect can now play Columbus – discovering continents of new possibilities in which ever direction they sail.  It is liberating. it is exhilarating. All their discoveries are very cool too. They are able to bring to the press – new species of forms that have never been discovered. All the stifling  old rules of aesthetic rationality are now broken. Anything you do now is guaranteed to appear creative – what more can we ask for ?

But within this jubilation, there is a crisis :

there is no dream….

…no illusory links to higher order, God or heavens above or anything that appeals to our cultivated rationality. It leaves us cold. The certainty and comfort of order is substituted with the profusion of geometric noise . Architects are increasingly unable to link their own theories of design to theories of science – which has now disowned its ancient understanding of order. There are now, new theories of chaos, fractals, flocking and emergence. The phenomenal procedural possibilities available to us, due to computers, allow us to understand the nature of natures order – better than ever before. New manufacturing abilities now allow  us to build previously unimaginable complexity. Generative design is able to unburden the architect of  the labours of complex creation.We have clearly entered the architectural era of :

Because we can

– amidst an  intellectual vacuum – unable to explain, rationalize or even enjoy the complexity that is created for our consumption. It is too embarrassing not to swim in the coolness of curves – it may indicate our age – that we have gone past adolescence, that we understand the difference between porn and sex. That our brains expect pleasures that go beyond sensuality and that it seeks the  perverse pleasure of finding meaning in architecture. These are symptoms of age.

The master architects don’t seem to help. Their mutterings appear to be aimed at TV crew and patrons – who like a bit of exotic  theory bolstering their investments. The lesser their understanding, the more sophisticated they sounds. They have helped divorce aesthetics from rationality;  Something that the post of generation of architects brought together.The marriage of Aesthetics and Rationality is now over. There is no need for it.

Algorithmic architecture may be an exception to this, because it continues the dream of linking mathematics to aesthetics. Other attempts at rationalisation of aesthetic adventures are poetic often lyrical. Most of these lyrics are too embarrassing to table for discussion with those who are schooled in the arts of rational sciences. No one now seem to understand the language of architects. So they have started talking to themselves.  We need to be concerned here.

Architects are no longer in the business of understanding and expressing order. That game has now moved  to mathematicians , physicist, ecologist and others whose minds are seethed in the art of rationality.

It is then time  for architects to stop dreaming ?

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Written by Sivam Krish

October 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Andreas Hopf

    October 22, 2010 at 7:20 am

    • Thanks Adreas for those great links. Nice to know that my views are shared. I like what they say about digital design

      “DIGITAL DESIGN FINDS ITS
      CERTAINTY IN A PARAMETRIC
      COMPUTATION OF INFINITE,
      NONCRITICAL FORMAL VARIABILITY,
      WITH ITS SIMULTANEOUS
      ASSURANCE OF ALL POSSIBILITY
      AND NO PARTICULARITY.

      Glad that some can see the emperor without cloths.

      Sivam Krish

      October 22, 2010 at 8:26 am

  2. […] focuses entirely on the nature of order – from which architects as I have previously blogged are totally disconnected. Those who have their own theories of architecture are advised to avoid this book, because it […]

  3. […] it is just that the Western architectural tradition comes with a religious view on its virtues. A classic example is the master of the modern movement uncle Corb writing a “Poem of the Rectangle”. This […]


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