Posts tagged with "ACADIA 2016":

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ACADIA 2016 showcased the diversity of cutting-edge computational design

This year’s meeting of the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) was hosted at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. It was the 36th meeting of ACADIA, and was regarded to be an incredibly successful showing. The theme of the conference, Posthuman Frontiers: Data, Designers, and Cognitive Machines, was paired with the Posthuman Frontiers exhibition, featuring jury-selected projects submitted to the conference, as well as the advanced work of Taubman College faculty. The events of the conference were held at multiple venues around Ann Arbor, and were preceded by several workshops that made use of Taubman College’s digital fabrication and instruction facilities.

For those of us on the outside looking in (in our lesser moments, perhaps), the ACADIA community might easily be misconstrued as a group of architects obsessed with robots, or possessing an interest in complicated shapes made in Grasshopper for their own sake. However, the three days this author spent among their ranks at this year’s conference were some of the most inspiring in recent memory. Yes, there were moments of geometric fetishism, and yes, there were a considerable number of time-lapse videos of robot arms in progress. But when taken in aggregate, these projects, papers, and talks reframed and made vibrant the essential ingredients of what we work on as architects: the arrangement of solid and void, the cultural effects of form, and the possibilities of what we might craft in the built environment.

It must be said that the range of work presented was dramatic. Even within the more immediately applicable papers and projects were sober arguments for parametric design in space planning, a smart device for lowering cooling costs in office spaces, newly designed plugins to optimize the unfolding of 3-D meshes, and progress-in-training robots to lay tile in order to relieve the strain on human bodies.

Caress of the Gaze from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Reaching into more radical territory, we saw prototyped near-body architectures operating on the politics of the posthuman in Behnaz Farahi’s “Caress of the Gaze,” an actuated garment which tracks—and responds to—the eye movement of those regarding the wearer. We saw installations that build intimacy and a sense of cooperative play between humans and digital entities. There was work which adopted uncommon material alliances of “programmable matter,” such as in Jane Scott’s intertwining of hydrophobic fibers that writhe and retract when exposed to water vapor (one of several fabric-oriented works), and too many others of note to mention them all.

But some of the most memorable moments from this conference were the keynote addresses, as they punctuated the proceedings with disparate tones and positions that illuminated the diversity of this community. Theodore Spyropoulos led the charge on Thursday with a talk entitled All Is Behavior (a play on Hans Hollein’s claim that “All are architects. Everything is architecture.”) It quickly became clear that Spyropoulos sees the future of cities, and indeed, that of humanity, in a technologically positivist light. He envisions self-organizing and aggregating structures which allow for adaptivity in the face of changing climatic or social conditions, and seeks to bring us into more sympathetic forms of interaction with robotic and digital entities.

The evening of the same day found the participants exposed to other visionary work, in a dreamy—and at times titillating—conversation between Philip Beesley and Iris Van Herpen, whose ongoing collaborations are advancing both Van Herpen’s work at the forefront of couture, and Beesley’s at, perhaps, the architectural equivalent. Lucidly expressive, Beesley’s tone was one of wonderment—of proposed, barely imaginable relationships between humans and matter. In fact, Beesley’s role is most easily understood, and his work is most easily appreciated, when it is placed in the context of couture, the goal of which is to push the bounds of what is possible in clothing.

Mario Carpo’s discussion of the cultural implications of searchability was a thoughtful meditation and provocation that ultimately concluded the conference Saturday evening, but the real climax of ACADIA 2016 was a keynote lecture Friday evening by Elizabeth Diller, as she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite a playful hesitance to engage with the foreboding finality of “Lifetime Achievement,” Diller generously outlined some of the more seminal works of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), one of the most influential practices in the world over the past 25 years. Early in the talk, Diller emphasized her interest in the fields adjacent to architecture, a propensity for smaller scale works, and a persistent fascination with “the encounter.” By the end, however, she was in a mode of pure architectural shoptalk, sharing in-progress photos of the recently manufactured steel struts and enormous wheels that will comprise The Shed, currently in construction in New York’s Hudson Yards development. Diller concluded her remarks with some reflections upon the way culture has shifted since some of DS+R’s early work. In the present day, she claims:

“...the speed of obsolescence makes technology a liability. Dumber is better than smarter and the best thing to do for culture in the future is to secure real estate. It’s as basic as that.

Then: Systems theory, game theory, cybernetic control systems were tools to democratize culture.

Now: Digital technologies allow culture to be open source, dispersed, and on-demand. However, with democracy comes the ubiquitous condition of being monitored, so it’s a different time.…

Then: Kit of parts and kinetic systems produce flexibility.

Now: Flexibility is a paradox. The more flexibility is built in, the more predetermined, leaving nothing but empty space (this is related to ‘dumb is a virtue’).

Then: Disciplinary borders had to be broken.

Now: Despite academia’s parsing and classification, the richly indeterminate contours of interdisciplinarity, intradisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity—we actually have to push to make these things happen, because somehow, the real world divides everything up again. Because that’s where money comes from—different places. And it’s going to take a long time to change the system.

Then: Government support for culture was assumed.

Now: To avoid the vicissitudes of the economy, the cultural institutions must produce their own financial security.

Then: The architect was a generalist that gathers research from subcommittees.

Now: Professionalization turns the architect into a director/producer that relies on a rolling cadre of subconsultants who bring an ever-widening depth of expertise to ever-more adventurous problems. So, then and now, the architect gets to push the agency of the profession to invent a cultural and civic project on both scores.”

These sage thoughts carried the conference into its final day, which held perhaps the most poignant moment of the proceedings, as Chuck Eastman, one of the original founders of ACADIA in 1981, received the Society Award of Excellence. Hearing Eastman describe the early days of computational design, the work that went into tasks as simple as Boolean operations, put the tools we now take for granted in perspective. It is amazing how far computational design has advanced in just a few decades, and this community shows no sign of slowing. No doubt, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab will rise to the occasion and show us the next chapter a year from now, as they are slated to host ACADIA 2017.

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Mario Carpo and Elizabeth Diller Confirmed as Keynote Speakers for ACADIA 2016

This years ACADIA 2016 conference: Posthuman Frontiers: Data, Designers & Cognitive Machines has announced Mario Carpo (Reyner Banham Professor of Architectural Theory and History, the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL London) and Elizabeth Diller (founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro) as confirmed keynote speakers. In 1999, working alongside Ricardo Scofidio, Ms. Diller was awarded the MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, becoming the first in her filed to do so. Now, Diller will also be receiving the ACADIA 2016 Lifetime Achievement award, an esteemed accolade that represents recognition by colleagues worldwide of consistent contributions and impact on the field of architectural computing and design culture. Co-Founder and Design Partner of Future Cities Lab, San Francisco and recently elected member to the ACADIA Board of Directors and ACADIA President, Jason Kelly Johnson cited how "Diller’s pioneering work at the intersections of architecture, art, technology and philosophy" made her an "ideal" choice as a keynote speaker. Johnson went on to add that "the ACADIA community will celebrate Diller's critical explorations integrating design, computation, and theory into a radically inventive and culturally relevant body of work from installations to buildings to urban landscapes." Mario Carpo was also seen by Johnson as a pivotal speaker for ACADIA 2016. "Carpo's keynote will bring a much needed theoretical and historical perspective to the conference," Johnson noted, going on to say, "His research is a catalyst for critical discussions related to digital design, technology and culture."  Carpo has a strong pedigree in the field of architectural research, focusing on architectural theory, cultural history, and the history of media and information technology. Notable publications include The Alphabet and the AlgorithmThe Digital Turn in Architecture 1992-2012 and his award-winning opus: Architecture in the Age of Printing which has been translated into several languages.

The conference will focus on design work and research carried out in the fields of practice and academia  that relate to "procedural design, designed environments and autonomous machines". More specifically, ACADIA 2016 will concentrate on contemporary trends in computational design that has been used to develop "quasi-cognitive machines" and "integration of software, information, fabrication and sensing to generate mechanisms for interfacing with the physical realm." Papers that touch on relative disciplines such as material science, biology, art, computer graphics, civil engineering, and human-computer interaction have been called to contribute to the discussion.

"Every year the ACADIA conferences bring together a world-class group of designers, architects, engineers, fabricators and thinkers exploring the intersection of computation, digital technologies and architecture," said Johnson. "In North America it has become the event to present, explore and debate emerging ideas in the field."

This years event will be held at the University of Michigan Taubman College in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the conference itself will run from October 27 - 29, 2016.