AA San Francisco Visiting School

11 to 22 July 2011

Design Brief

AA Visiting School at California College of the Arts, San Francisco
11-22 July 2011

The two-week workshop commences with an introduction to the theoretical concepts of emergence and self-organisation spanning from complex biological systems to artificial intelligence, and their conceptual application via material systems in the built environment. Form-generation, material organisation, and performance with respect to environmental, spatial and social constraints are approached as three interrelated methods of inquiry in the investigation of an integral parametric and algorithmic design framework. The workshop aims to incorporate ideas stemming from different fields in order to advance architectural design in terms of its effectiveness and sustainability. Moreover, the tools and concepts will introduce an approach to architectural design which is not linear, but dependent on bottom-up interactions, in order to generate complex design solutions.

Natural systems provide the base source of inspiration, in the way they evolve, organize and adapt to their environments, as well as in the mechanisms employed for survival and evolution. From the notions of Scale, Hierarchies, Mechanisms (homeostasis, equilibrium, phase-change, responsiveness, adaptation) found in natural systems, we will explore concepts of anisotropy, differentiation, redundancy and robustness associated with material systems.

Using China Basin as our testing ground, we will focus on the relationship of matter, energy and space, particularly in how material behaviour acts as a generator of form, rather than as an imposed, top-down decision to a fixed geometry. We will explore this at three different scales: object (urban street devices), building (pavilion), and infrastructure (bridge).