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Klokis + Mahon

Summer 2010

Aggregated Assemblies: Exploring Complex Systems and Dynamic Geometry

"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

Modern research into the above mentioned fields has resulted in the discovery of
component based systems which follow simple local rules, that, when aggregated on
a larger scale create complex and dynamic systems. While architecure is
undeniably the product of a complex system (society), in Aggregated Assemblies we
explore the notion that formal geometry, et al, can also be best understood through
the lens of aggregated complexity. The idea that concepts of space, light, program,
structure, skin, public/private, and user-experience, as a result of form, can be
studied and produced vis-a-vis a linear reductionist process is an oversimplification
of the subject.

As more sciences focus on genetic fitness and efficiency of the systems studied,
architects have a responsibility to keep up, not only with the development of new
tools/software with which to explore ideas of surface, structure, etc - but with the use
of these new ideas to better understand the nature of form.

In AA we aim to introduce principles of emergence, flocking, evolutionary [genetic]


algorithms, cellular automata, fractals, and l-systems as a design methodology that
can result in the creation of dynamic and novel forms. By taking advantage of these
techniques we can create an non-linear algorithmic workflow that relies on novel rule
sets in order for the component to “grow” into complex systems.

We will explore techniques of using software to develop new geometries using


iterative processing and efficiency goals which will be developed by the students. As
many experiments have shown, allowing the computer to develop its own response
to a given set of efficiency goals inevitably results in novel solutions accounting for
multiple efficiencies that are out of the scope of human computation. Thus focusing
not simply on parametric design, but creating an environment for evolutionary
design.

AA focuses first on giving students a broad introduction to the fields of algorithmic


modeling, adaptive components, complex systems theory and information theory,
and what developments in these experimental fields mean for architectural design.
Second, we will apply the ideas and effects of complex systems to the creation of
unique "cell" geometries, by both analog (drawing, physical modelling) and digital
means (Rhinoceros, Grasshopper, Processing). Finally, these cells will then be
aggregated into small scale organizations where the cells can interact with each
other to build experimental, dynamic forms.