Monday, March 29, 2004

is le corbusiers' notre dame du haut a starting point of complexity architecture as suggested by charles jencks?

(1) jencks defines architecture of complexity (or cosmogenesis) as inspired by nature mathematically conceived and computationally produced.

(2) his interpretation stem from, or supported by, or supporting the works of, professional architects such as gehry, libeskind and eisenman. these architects are the luckiest kind of artist who express their work and getting well paid for it. however it is quite impossible to say that they have applied any portion of complexity, except of that convivial spirit of complexity into their work. architect have been known to skilfully narrate their architecture without any possibility to justify them thoroughly into each questionable aspects. This is the special quality of architect and architecture, the artistic side of it which people learn to appreciate rather than trying to measure its quality.

(3) if architecture suggested by jencks above are the kind of emergent architecture, then on the other hand researchers in complexity rarely aim to produce emergence. they are working with interrelating systems seeking specific behaviour out of synthetic model. complexity science is a new understanding via computer simulations which play important role in enabling visualisation of processes which never could have done before by any other kind of model preceding it. when complexity scientist talking about emergence, it usually means when some behaviours interpreted from what happened in the simulation which was not written-in the program.

(4) the works of complexity where resulted in phenomena of emergence are still fundamentally different to what architects do. our age is the age of capitalism where architects as professionals aim "to produce" architecture since the beginning of work; architects are producers. at the moment, there are two fundamentally different sides regarding the production of emergence; the belief that emergence can be deliberately produced, and on the other where the emphasis is not on the production but rather on the new understanding of how things work in the universe. john hollands' constraint generating procedure stem from works in evolutionary synthetic modelling is believed to enable production of emergence, however little work based on this assumption can be found. while paul cilliers who works are neural networks eperiments, believes in the modelling of system that would produce emergence without constructing it.

(5) the possible real works in applying synthetic methods and new understandings of complexity in architecture are in research centers of computing in architecture, where people are passionately applying methods already known in artificial intelligence, artificial life and computational geometry into architecture context. these researchers believe in would be worlds rather than should be world, they do not look for end products but interest to observe processes ie. evolution of form. however, these works still far from being applicable to real building design, because evolution of form requires more than two or three interacting system of forces which then coupled with issues in human occupation and existing environment. all these elements and relationships are not yet fully understood, and not enough theoretical foundations already available.

(6) architecture as inspired by nature, either going back or as happening, is an akward suggestion. few readings in the field of perception and cognition will lead to an understanding that knowledge could partially be the reflection of experiences, thus it must include nature in the environment to be engaged as cognitive elements. as explained by biology of cognition, physical state also playing important part thus the work of a blind artist is fundamentally different to the deaf artist due to the difference of experiences. this quality also go beyond time limits. leonardo da vinci was not too special being ahead of his time about his ideas, with the possibility having not so different physical state of contemporary man, but having the maximum potential to absorb much greater experiences and then enable to reflecting the best of it into his creative work.

(7) architecture inspired by nature that is mathematically conceived should not be a new thing, because in 1917 d'arcy thompson has presented beautifully how nature and math relate and how form can be constructed through mathematical formulation. but not until around 1960's when architects interested in computation that the use of mathematical formulation is precedent. however these initial work of computational architecture were not into nature's forms but they were focused on problem solving; in this case the problem of layout dimensions and program requirements.

(8) this was also sadly coupled with the idea that to be able to justify results of computationally produced layout, layout automation was strictly processing, the apparently been regarded as the simplest geometry; rectangle. from 1964 mitchells' layout automation until at least recorded by environment planning b in 1994, the use of rectangle has been superior in the search of automating layout. it is imperative to suggest that to exploit computer is to push it to the limit, to make computers do things which are not only time consuming for manual calculations, but also exploring things out of the original scenarios imaginable set out in the program. and thus follow that any applications only be useful when manual works are impossible to proceed.

(9) the success of froebels' block application into shape grammar is not something to argue, but this is fundamentally a process of linear programming. it starts with shape axioms and rules as input and resulted in specific shape following those rules. it is as inspired by nature and also mathematically conceived, the similar kind of process shown in the work of Prusinkiewicz with L-System. it is always interesting to know if any real buildings might have been resulted from identifiable seed and tracable formulas, but will it add to our understanding of architecture? of how it could be merely the effect of interacting systems behind the forces implicating it?

(10) it is interesting to ask the last question in the above paragraph because when gehry, libeskind and einsenman computationally produced their architecture, one among many forces behind production of architecture is precision that each glass roof, or wall unit, can only be manufactured with computer blueprints. but is there computer models that show the processes where one can observe how space and form evolved into such unique piece of architecture, without any other kind of model can show it? do we understand more about architecture of which michelangelo buonarroti 15th century italian painter, sculptor and architect could not possibly understand because there were not computers at his time?

(11) the only tool to understand and to explain, according to the spirit in the field of complexity science is, in the making and upon observing computer simulations of interacting systems. systems which are essentially simple where elements in each system working locally, when any specific emergent behaviour is identify by the observer and thus at that stage could then be introduced coupling mechanisms between the systems. this is doubtly what le corbusiers' have been done when he finally produced notre dame du haut at ronchamp. le corbusier was a remarkable architect, but in no way this particular building represents the spirit of understanding the complexity of architecture, or a product of applying synthetic methods into evolving architecture.

(12) this discussion is meant to objectively show what could be the application of synthetic method in terms of the new understanding of and way of explaining complexity in architecture. in the believe that architecture is a complex thing thus there could not be a single story to explain it but rather collections of understandings of it's aspects; should sufficiently provide the foundation to actively urge architects to get involved in the real task of creating more computer model of processes into evolving architecture. the title was not meant to questioning the authority of charles jencks as famous architecture historians (or theorist), but perhaps as it happened in the study of artificial intelligence where there exist two opposite approaches of applying intelligence to man-made creation, the hard core AI and the weaker core AI; that in architecture there are real search of new understanding of architecture through computer models and there also exists the picturesque capitalist narrations of complexity architecture.