On Nature, Form, and Computation

This coming Wednesday October 12, I am going to discuss my current research in the field of Computational Design with you.

The research is focused on origins of form and how morphogenesis can be simulated computationally in order to help architectural designers to come up with functional forms, functions which can be dictated by environmental constraints and/or architecture.

I will start the discussion with representation of what I have studied, and learned through the research, and continue with sharing my ideas for developing a digital form making environment, inspired by natural processes. Finally, I would like to hear your questions, comments, and arguments – especially regarding these issues:

1- How important is the role that generative algorithms can play in design?
2- How these algorithms can enable designers to improve their design?
3- What representation, regarding genotype creation, can interact with designers in a more meaningful manner?
4- Technicalities of developing a digital form making environment

Followings are some of the resources that the discussion is based on:

Material-based design computation (Neri Oxman, 2010)
The confluence of digital design (Shani Sharif, 2010)
Generative morphologies of architectural organization in matter force field (Murat Mutlu, 2010)
An evolutionary Architecture (John Frazer, 1995)
On Evolution and Development (HHMI Holiday Series 2005)
Hox Gene (Wikipedia)
Introduction to Biomimcry


On Computation, Form, and Fabrication

I will be leading the discussion Wednesday 10/5 for Shape && Computation, so I wanted to give you a brief introduction of my interests and ambitions in this field.

My most primitive interests relating shape, computation, and architecture revolve around the conceptual and technical processes of making. In my short tenure here at CMU I have been blending computational and architectural techniques to blur thresholds between digital and analog fabrication. My thesis research is heavily focused on intuitive design tools embedded with digital fabrication techniques that enable anyone, despite technical background, to create+make from additive (3d printing) or subtractive (lasercutting and milling) production methods.

For class tomorrow I will be demoing 2 projects I’ve developed, one of which is completed and the other which is underway.  With that I’d also like our discussion to center around the following items:
(1) Comments/Suggestions for further development of my project
(2) Conceptual issues around generative or open-ended design:

  • Can you call an architect an Architect if they don’t hard-line the final form or outcome of a design
  • The relationship between generative design and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) tools in realizing a design

(3) Customization and Co-Authorship
(4) Digital Fabrication and Accessibility
(5) Is enabling more people to directly create the objects and spaces of their environment a GOOD thing?

  • Is there such a thing as GOOD, or perhaps GOOD DESIGN, anymore?

As a preface I’ve included the following papers and media for you to review…

Precedents for the second app I’ll be demo-ing:
Sketch Furniture by Front Studio
SketchChair: All-in-One Chair Design System for End Users
Spatial Sketch: Bridging Between Movement and Fabrication

Emerging Market of Personal Manufacturing (report commissioned by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)  Factory@Home.

Not that my design research is directly relating to this, but just as a background to the direction that fabrication is moving towards, please watch this talk given by Neil Gershenfeld, The Future of Fabrication.

And this is a great video showing growing enthusiasm for 3d Printing in unexpected demographics:

Other media about the benifits of opensource initiatives in digital fabrication: