University of Calgary

Joshua Taron on the adoption of swarms into architectural design

Submitted by jwalla on Fri, 2012/03/09 - 9:59am.

Many categorical problems of complexity and indeterminacy have already been codified through software as explicit territories [program]. Of fundamental importance to these programs is their ability to mediate and reify informational bodies – inputting, conditioning and outputting data such that program-specific value and meaning are added to all three phases. Within this mode of design, discretely structural strategies become a new challenge for architecture when materializing information into physical assemblies.

Agent-based models are a good example of a kind of program that architecture has appropriated for itself without necessarily having integrated structural logic into their behaviors. This adoption of swarms into architectural design has ushered in the capacity to instrumentalize large populations of agents capable of discovering and developing intelligent solutions within complex environments. Simple interactions between many thousands (or even millions) of autonomous agents enable emergent behaviors to explicitly form and inform a design. Adding to this new understanding are new tools that exploit software interoperability. These tools make possible new forms of generative design by connecting parametric assemblies in grasshopper with a range of different analytical software packages such as ANSYS and SAP2000.

Structurally Intelligent Swarms (SIS) explores methods for combining swarm formations, FEA software and evolutionary algorithms within parametric modeling environments that produce new structurally and materially intelligent morphologies as alternatives to conventional (and often less efficient) ones. These new morphologies are grafted into normative architectural assemblies and tested as whole building assemblies. Architectural speculations are made as to refining engineered capabilities, expanding on programmatic applications and testing integrated SIS assemblies at alternative scales.

Joshua M Taron is Principal of Synthetiques, a research/design/build outfit focusing on the hybrid ecologies afforded through the interface of virtual and physical economies across multiple scales. He co-directs the Laboratory for Integrative Design [LID] at the University of Calgary where he is also an Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Faculty of Environmental Design [EVDS]. He recently co-chaired the ACADIA 2011 Annual Conference titled, Integration through Computation, Banff, AB. He has lectured, published and exhibited internationally.

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