Intersecting Knowledge Fields

30Nov14

Intersecting Knowledge Fields and Integrating Data-Driven Computational Design en Route to Performance-Oriented and Intensely Local Architectures
Michael U. Hensel and Søren S. Sørensen

A continual problem of contemporary architecture is the question of how to negotiate the problem of architecture’s increasing global homogenisation and the need to address local specificity. The question is how to unlock the performative capacities of architectures that are informed by their particular setting. In his seminal essay ‘Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance’, Kenneth Frampton calls for a strategy that ‘is to mediate the impact of universal civilisation with elements derived indirectly from the peculi- arities of a particular place’. Regarding the latter, Frampton stated that architecture which derives from this understanding ‘may find its governing inspiration in such things as the range and quality of the local light, or in a tectonic derived from a peculiar structural mode, or in the topography of a given site’. Yet regarding the former, Frampton cautions against an approach that exclusively emphasises optimised technology as this can limit designs ‘either to the manipulation of elements predetermined by the imperatives of production, or to a kind of superficial masking’ and thus lead to ‘on the one hand, a so-called “high-tech” approach predicated exclusively upon production, and, on the other, the provision of a “compensatory façade” to cover up the harsh realities of this universal system’. The concerns thus expressed seem equally acute today, and the question arises whether there are theoretical frameworks and design approaches and methods that can be deployed to arrive at the kind of mediation Frampton calls for in the search for spatially more enriched, and locally more specific, architectures.

One current approach in architecture focuses on a nascent notion of performance. As we have discussed elsewhere in detail, most of today’s approaches to the question of performance originate from the form and function dialectic that in various guises has dominated architectural discourse since the 1930s and continues to divide architects chiefly into two camps. The formal approach tends to focus on artistic aspects and invariably centres on the discrete architectural object, whereas the functional emphasis is frequently associated with science and, more specifically, with engineering and optimisation. Protagonists of the former criticise the latter for being too rigid and technocratic, while the latter criticise the former for being too elusive and superficial.

Read more at FootPrint Journal
Issue # 15 | Autumn 2014 | Dynamics of Data-Driven Design

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