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Advanced Parametric Modeling: Aggregated Assemblies

Mahon[Klokis] - ARCH 583/662 - Weston 461 - Summer 2010

"The study of complex systems is bringing new vitality to many areas of
science where a more typical reductionist strategy has fallen short. Complex
systems is therefore often used as a broad term encompassing a research
approach to problems in many diverse disciplines including neuroscience,
meteorology, physics, computer science, artificial life, evolutionary
computation, economics, earthquake prediction, heart cell synchronization,
immune systems, reaction-diffusion systems, epilepsy and enquiries into the
nature of living cells themselves." - Wikipedia

While architecture is undeniably the product of a complex system (society), it
too often relies on established hierarchical structures for the sake of
form/functionality. In Aggregated Assemblies we aim to establish something
more open and embryonic, a complex system of objects with the ability to
communicate through computation and modular logic. This will allow component
parts to grow into larger assemblies that will aggregate into any number of

Specifically in this seminar we will introduce principles of emergence, flocking,

evolutionary [genetic] algorithms, cellular automata, fractals, and l-systems as a
design methodology that can be used as an engine to drive the creation of
dynamic and novel forms. Taking advantage of these techniques allows the
students to create a non-linear algorithmic workflow that relies on novel rule sets
and component logic in order to “grow” complex systems. These complex
systems will generate 4-Dimensional (forms with embedded historical process)
forms that will answer the traditional goals of architectural form [space,
structure, etc…].

Seminar Methodology
Central to the investigations undertaken in this seminar will be intense use of
the computer. Specifically the use of software which allows for custom user
defined code will generate and effect 3-Dimensional geometric systems. No
previous knowledge of these software packages is necessary, however working
knowledge of the software packages already available (Rhino, AutoCAD, Revit,
Adobe, etc...) to the students will be expected. Students will also be expected to
have access to their own machines where the software (Grasshopper, &
Processing) being taught in the seminar is accessible. note: Grasshopper & Processing
are both free downloads for students

The course will begin with an introduction to Rhinoceros 3D as it will be the

primary modeling tool for representation of the definitions and code generated in
the course. As the students advance in their understanding of adaptive
Advanced Parametric Modeling: Aggregated Assemblies
Mahon[Klokis] - ARCH 583/662 - Weston 461 - Summer 2010
components, complex systems theory and information theory, introductions to
algorithmic modeling thru the use of Grasshopper and scripting thru the use of
Processing will be introduced. Specific libraries of definitions and code already
prepared will be used for the development of projects.

Seminar Pedagogy

Work in the seminar will be both individual and team-based. This approach
will allow students to work in an open-source environment where code and
process is not proprietary but shared to enhance the work of the class. Within
this framework, the seminar will include both analogue and digital modeling
assignments as well as lectures, tutorials, and presentations.

As the objective of the course is very ambitious attendance will be mandatory.

If a class must be missed notification must be given to the instructors at least 24
hours in advance. Individual instruction of missed material may be possible;
however no guarantee to receive the instruction in time to complete course work
can be given.

The Morning Line - Aranda/Lasch + Arup AGU

Advanced Parametric Modeling: Aggregated Assemblies
Mahon[Klokis] - ARCH 583/662 - Weston 461 - Summer 2010

Course Room
Weston 461

Course Website


80% Coursework
- 20% Component Design
- 20% Complex System Design
- 40% Aggregated Assembly
15% Reading Responses
05% Class Participation

Required Readings
A reader for the course will be distributed with excerpts and essays from:
Manuel DeLanda, Aranda/Lasch, Neil Leach, Stephen Wolfram, Kevin
Kelly, Francois Roche, and many others
This reading component will be conducted alongside the seminar course in
which students will be required to write short responses to the texts which will
be focused on contemporary the discourse of parametric modeling,
emergence theory, and component [complex] systems

Suggested References
- Algorithms for Visual Design using the Processing Language, Kostas Terzidis
- Grasshopper Primer: 2nd Edition, Andrew Payne and Rajaa Issa
- Rhinoscript101, David Rutten