"Architecture as a material practice is predominately based on an approach to design that is characterised by prioritising the elaboration of form over its subsequent materialisation. Since the Renaissance the increasing division between processes of design and making has led to the age-long development and increasing dependence on representational tools intended for explicit, scalar geometric descriptions that at the same time serve as instructions for the translation from drawing to building. Inevitably, and with few exceptions, even in today's digital practice architects embrace design methods that epitomize the hierarchical separation of form definition and materialisation.
The research of the Institute for Computational Design explores an alternative, morphogenetic approach to design that unfolds morphological complexity and performative capacity from material constituents without differentiating between formation and materialisation processes. This requires an understanding of form, material, structure and environment not as separate aspects, but rather as complex interrelations that are embedded in and explored through integral computational processes.
The notion of material system constitutes one central aspect of this research. Material system does not only refer to the material constituents of a building alone, but rather describes, in a system-theoretical sense, the complex reciprocity between materiality, form, structure and space, the related processes of production and assembly, and the multitude of performative effects that emanate from the interaction with environmental influences and forces. This conceptualization of material systems enables the utilization of computational design processes. The ability of computation to simultaneously do both, stochastically derive and systemically process complex datasets within a defined or evolving constraint space, can be utilized to explore a material system's performative capacity within its materially determined limits. Furthermore, continuously informing the form generation with different modes of computational analysis enables a direct link between the ontogeny, the history of structural changes of an individual, and its interaction with external forces and energy respectively, that is its ecological embedding. This enables to conceive of material systems as the synergetic outcome of calibrating and balancing multiple influencing variables and divergent design criteria, which always already include the interaction with the system-external environment. The resultant environmental modulations can now be understood as highly specific patterns in direct relation to the material interventions from which they originate.
The design of space, structure and climate can be synthesized in one integral design process."
(Achim Menges, Achimmenges.net)
"The Guide evolved from the need to have an application that could organize information and ideas in a hierarchical, tree-like structure. Tree-based structures are frequently employed to manage information through a 'divide-and-conquer' approach, wherein each level of the tree represents a further level of specialization of the parent-level topic - the best example of this being a book.
The Guide is an application that allows you create documents ('guides') which inherently have a tree (which you can modify as you please) and text associated with each node of the tree. The text itself is of the rich-text variety, and the editor allows you to modify the style and formatting of the text (fonts, bold, italics etc).
For the initiated, the Guide is a two-pane extrinsic outliner. This concept is similar to mindmapping in some ways."
[While this tool is designed for authoring help guides -it is also very useful for re-structuring large text documents. Once complete the newly re-structured document can be exported as an RDF document (which are MS-Word readable).
Note that there seems to be something wrong with the MSI version of the installer -the EXE version is OK however.]
"Made popular by the International Typographic Style movement and pioneered by legends like Josef Müller-Brockmann and Wim Crouwel, the grid is the foundation of any solid design. The Grid System is an ever-growing resource where graphic designers can learn about grid systems, the golden ratio and baseline grids."
"The new series, called All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace, takes complicated ideas and turns them into entertainment by the use of the vertigo-inducing intellectual leaps, choppy archive material and disorienting music with which all Curtis fans are familiar. The central idea leads Curtis on a journey, taking in the chilling über-individualist novelist Ayn Rand, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, the 'new economy', hippy communes, Silicon Valley, ecology, Richard Dawkins, the wars in Congo, the lonely suicide in a London squat of the mathematical genius who invented the selfish gene theory, and the computer model of the eating habits of the pronghorn antelope.
You can see why Zoe Williams once wrote that, while watching one of Curtis's programmes, 'I kept thinking the dog was sitting on the remote. ...'
Now he has moved on to machines, but it starts with nature. 'In the 1960s, an idea penetrated deep into the public imagination that nature is a self-regulating ecosystem, there is a natural order,' Curtis says. 'The trouble is, it's not true – as many ecologists have shown, nature is never stable, it's always changing. But the idea took root and spread wider – people started to believe there is an underlying order to the entire world, to how society is structured. Everything became part of a system, like a computer; no more hierarchies, freedom for all, no class, no nation states.' What the series shows is how this idea spread into the heart of the modern world, from internet utopianism and dreams of democracy without leaders to visions of a new kind of stable global capitalism run by computers. But we have paid a price for this: without realising it we, and our leaders, have given up the old progressive dreams of changing the world and instead become like managers – seeing ourselves as components in a system, and believing our duty is to help that system balance itself. Indeed, Curtis says, 'The underlying aim of the series is to make people aware that this has happened – and to try to recapture the optimistic potential of politics to change the world.'
The counterculture of the 1960s, the Californian hippies, took up the idea of the network society because they were disillusioned with politics and believed this alternative way of ordering the world was based on some natural order. So they formed communes that were non-hierarchical and self-regulating, disdaining politics and rejecting alliances. (Many of these hippy dropouts later took these ideas mainstream: they became the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who decided that computers could liberate everyone and save the world.)...
He draws a parallel with those 1970s communes. 'The experiments with them all failed, and quickly. What tore them apart was the very thing that was supposed to have been banished: power. Some people were more free than others - strong personalities dominated the weak, but the rules didn't allow any organised opposition to the suppression because that would be politics.' As in the commune, so in the world: 'These are the limitations of the self-organising system: it cannot deal with politics and power. And now we're all disillusioned with politics, and this machine-organising principle has risen up to be the ideology of our age.'"
(Katharine Viner, 6 May 2011, Guardian)
Episode 1: 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace: Love and Power', First broadcast BBC Two, 9:00PM Mon, 23 May 2011
Episode 2: 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace: The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts', First broadcast BBC Two, 9:00PM Mon, 30 May 2011
Episode 3: 'All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace: The Monkey In The Machine and the Machine in the Monkey', First broadcast BBC Two, 9:00PM Mon, 06 June 2011
"The Semantic Web is about two things. It is about common formats for integration and combination of data drawn from diverse sources, where on the original Web mainly concentrated on the interchange of documents. It is also about language for recording how the data relates to real world objects. That allows a person, or a machine, to start off in one database, and then move through an unending set of databases which are connected not by wires but by being about the same thing."