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id ga0015
authors Daru, R., Vreedenburgh, E. and Scha, R.
year 2000
title Architectural Innovation as an evolutionary process
source International Conference on Generative Art
summary Traditionally in art and architectural history, innovation is treated as a history of ideas of individuals (pioneers), movements and schools. The monograph is in that context one of the most used forms of scientific exercise. History of architecture is then mostly seen as a succession of dominant architectural paradigms imposed by great architectural creators fighting at the beginning against mainstream establishment until they themselves come to be recognised. However, there have been attempts to place architectural innovation and creativity in an evolutionary perspective. Charles Jencks for example, has described the evolution of architectural and art movements according to a diagram inspired by ecological models. Philip Steadman, in his book "The Evolution of Designs. Biological analogy in architecture and the applied arts" (1979), sketches the history of various biological analogies and their impact on architectural theory: the organic, classificatory, anatomical, ecological and Darwinian or evolutionary analogies. This last analogy "explains the design of useful objects and buildings, particularly in primitive society and in the craft tradition, in terms of a sequence of repeated copyings (corresponding to inheritance), with small changes made at each stage ('variations'), which are then subjected to a testing process when the object is put into use ('selection')." However, Steadman has confined his study to a literature survey as the basis of a history of ideas. Since this pioneering work, new developments like Dawkins' concept of memes allow further steps in the field of cultural evolution of architectural innovation. The application of the concept of memes to architectural design has been put forward in a preceding "Generative Art" conference (Daru, 1999), showing its application in a pilot study on the analysis of projects of and by architectural students. This first empirical study is now followed by a study of 'real life' architectural practice. The case taken has a double implication for the evolutionary analogy. It takes a specific architectural innovative concept as a 'meme' and develops the analysis of the trajectory of this meme in the individual context of the designer and at large. At the same time, the architect involved (Eric Vreedenburgh, Archipel Ontwerpers) is knowledgeable about the theory of memetic evolution and is applying a computer tool (called 'Artificial') together with Remko Scha, the authoring computer scientist of the program who collaborates frequently with artists and architects. This case study (the penthouse in Dutch town planning and the application of 'Artificial') shall be discussed in the paper as presented. The theoretical and methodological problems of various models of diffusion of memes shall be discussed and a preliminary model shall be presented as a framework to account for not only Darwinian but also Lamarckian processes, and for individual as well as collective transmission, consumption and creative transformation of memes.
keywords evolutionary design, architectural innovation, memetic diffusion, CAAD, penthouses, Dutch design, creativity, Darwinian and Lamarckian processes
series other
references Content-type: text/plain
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