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id ga0008
authors Koutamanis, Alexander
year 2000
title Redirecting design generation in architecture
source International Conference on Generative Art
summary Design generation has been the traditional culmination of computational design theory in architecture. Motivated either by programmatic and functional complexity (as in space allocation) or by the elegance and power of representational analyses (shape grammars, rectangular arrangements), research has produced generative systems capable of producing new designs that satisfied certain conditions or of reproducing exhaustively entire classes (such as all possible Palladian villas), comprising known and plausible new designs. Most generative systems aimed at a complete spatial design (detailing being an unpopular subject), with minimal if any intervention by the human user / designer. The reason for doing so was either to give a demonstration of the elegance, power and completeness of a system or simply that the replacement of the designer with the computer was the fundamental purpose of the system. In other words, the problem was deemed either already resolved by the generative system or too complex for the human designer. The ongoing democratization of the computer stimulates reconsideration of the principles underlying existing design generation in architecture. While the domain analysis upon which most systems are based is insightful and interesting, jumping to a generative conclusion was almost always based on a very sketchy understanding of human creativity and of the computer's role in designing and creativity. Our current perception of such matters suggests a different approach, based on the augmentation of intuitive creative capabilities with computational extensions. The paper proposes that architectural generative design systems can be redirected towards design exploration, including the development of alternatives and variations. Human designers are known to follow inconsistent strategies when confronted with conflicts in their designs. These strategies are not made more consistent by the emerging forms of design analysis. The use of analytical means such as simulation, couple to the necessity of considering a rapidly growing number of aspects, means that the designer is confronted with huge amounts of information that have to be processed and integrated in the design. Generative design exploration that can combine the analysis results in directed and responsive redesigning seems an effective method for the early stages of the design process, as well as for partial (local) problems in later stages. The transformation of generative systems into feedback support and background assistance for the human designer presupposes re-orientation of design generation with respect to the issues of local intelligence and autonomy. Design generation has made extensive use of local intelligence but has always kept it subservient to global schemes that tended to be holistic, rigid or deterministic. The acceptance of local conditions as largely independent structures (local coordinating devices) affords a more flexible attitude that permits not only the emergence of internal conflicts but also the resolution of such conflicts in a transparent manner. The resulting autonomy of local coordinating devices can be expanded to practically all aspects and abstraction levels. The ability to have intelligent behaviour built in components of the design representation, as well as in the spatial and building elements they signify, means that we can create the new, sharper tools required by the complexity resulting from the interpretation of the built environment as a dynamic configuration of co-operating yet autonomous parts that have to be considered independently and in conjunction with each other.   P.S. The content of the paper will be illustrated by a couple of computer programs that demonstrate the princples of local intelligence and autonomy in redesigning. It is possible that these programs could be presented as independent interactive exhibits but it all depends upon the time we can make free for the development of self-sufficient, self-running demonstrations until December.
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