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id ga0213
authors Herr, Christiane M.
year 2002
title Generative Architectural Design and Complexity Theory
source International Conference on Generative Art
summary During the past decades, complexity theory has evolved as a new discipline that provides a broad scientific perspective towards dynamic real-life phenomena, challenging the classical linear worldview as well as simple cause-and-effect-style Newtonian physics. For architects, the advent of this new science offers the challenge as well as the chance to reconsider common design approaches and to invent new strategies based on the new paradigms. The actual application of complexity theory to architectural design, however, results in a fundamental dilemma: How can a reflective, ultimately retrospective body of thought (complexity theory) be applied to prospective design challenges (architecture)? Being part of a current MArch thesis project, the proposed paper focuses on this general dilemma between architectural design and complexity theory and discusses actual as well as potential future generative architectural design approaches involving complexity theory. Generative design strategies commonly apply algorithmic methods and formalisms, which can conveniently produce and deal with high levels of complexity. Complexity describes general properties of a system and can be further dissected into several modes: epistemic, ontological and functional complexity. This taxonomy offers insights into generative design applications, which have mostly focused on a limited set of complexity modes. Besides complexity generated by sheer numbers, aspects like functional or hierarchical complexity offer further perspectives on generative systems, processes and output. Considering these aspects of complexity theory, future challenges to generative architectural design can be predicted.
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