Ankit Surti

The rise of Digital Architecture is often framed as a paradigm shift and a style that is evolving around the modern world of today through the use of various computational techniques and processes. This particular essay argues that digital architecture is a new movement towards a paradigm shift and a new style has emerged through the techniques of digital architecture. The essay also, focuses on how the new digital architecture paradigm began from its relevance to the past and the present and explores the work of Zaha Hadid Architects, in implementing the new style of digital architecture and how it has helped the firm in its architectural discourse and the philosophical ideas it implements on the production of its projects. Digital Architecture? Digital architecture refers to the computationally based processes of form origination and transformations.1 The use of computational techniques such as algorithms allows for form generation and the development of a design. The process involving digital architecture is mainly explored to generate forms and surfaces and includes the process of form finding through generative design. Algorithms are developed through various concepts and one particular concept that architects are exploring is through the realm of biological sciences and is defined as 'morphogenesis'. The term refers to the logic of form generation and pattern-making in an organism through processes of growth and differentiation.2 Digital morphogenesis has become an element of exploration and using its concepts and fundamentals into architectural form finding through developing generative algorithms. Other scientific references include cellular automata, L-systems and parametrics. They all define the generative processes of digital architecture that has now emerged into a new style. Computers are regarded as vital a tools in communicating drawings and presentations through the implementation of computer aided design (CAD). Every architect and architectural firms now use CAD to present their ideas. These are known as passive design tools that assist in developing architectural drawings and collaboration. Passive tools do not impose a threat onto the architectural processes and can be easily relegated to a technician.

1
2

Kolarevic, Branko. "Digital Architectures". Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." p. 34

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Ankit Surti

On the other hand, active tools such as generative systems have the potential to add great value to the design process itself.3 Active tools include the use of algorithms, codes and scripts for form-making processes. This particular essay focuses on the use of active tools that frame digital architecture as a paradigm shift and a new emerging style. The Information Age, like the Industrial Age before it, is not only challenging what we are designing but also how we design.4 The process of how an architect generates a design is being replaced by computational processes that is becoming an experimental investigation as Peter Zellner argues, "Architecture is recasting itself, becoming in part an experimental investigation of topological geometries, partly a computational orchestration of robotic material production and partly a generative, kinematic sculpting of space.”5 The emergence of generative tools has created new methods of forms and spatial organisation of various topological geometries and curvilinearity. The rapid change in technology has shifted the way architects think and has produced a new basis of exploration through computational devices which have generated a new style and a paradigm. The architectural realm constantly changes as technology shifts. Technology plays an important role in architecture as it provides various means of communication, basis of experimentation and the testing of ideas that eventually is buildable. The relationship between the immaterial and the material becomes essential in the process of architecture and the use of computational generative design, has developed a new realm in architecture that has emerged as a new paradigm. Neil Leach states, "The seemingly paradoxical use of the immaterial domain of the computer to understand the material properties of architecture has spawned a new term in architecture: ‘digital tectonics’."6 The old relationship between the tectonics of the material world and the immaterial world of the digital has dissipated and instead we have the new tectonics of the digital. No longer is the architect the demiurgic form-maker of the past. The architect has been recast as the controller of processes, who oversees the ‘formation’ of architecture.7 With the emergence of the new paradigm, the architecture is emphasised on material performance over
3 4

Frazer, John. "Towards the Post Digital Era". Kolarevic, Branko. "Digital Architectures". 5 Ibid 6 Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." p. 35 7 Leach, Neil, et al. Digital Tectonics p.75

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Ankit Surti

appearance, and on process over representation.8 The architecture can be seen as the controllers of process that generate form or a surface. Patrick Schumacher, an architect and theorist argues parametricism is the great new style after modernism.9 Parametricism is one of the underlying computational concept of digital architecture. Schumacher states, "It has become evident that the next wave of innovations and refinements can only be achieved via scripted parametric systems. That is, by specifically programming design tools to deal with a number of design parameters to create a design that is sensitive to formal, functional and environmental parameters."10 The new paradigm of parametricism evolves in a generative process that is influenced by environmental factors to develop a design that is functional and inhabitable. Digital architecture implies a fundamental ontological shift within the basic elements of architecture. Instead of the classical and modern geometrical figures such as; straight lines, rectangles and cubes, the new primitives of digital architecture are animate (dynamic, adaptive, interactive) geometrical entities such as splines and nurbs.11 The new attracting geometrical figures of digital architecture has developed the basis of experimentation amongst architects which has lead to the emergence of a paradigm shift towards the digital era. The new shift in architecture towards the digital is also, being called as the 'new materialism' particularly by Manuel de Landa.12 The theoretical methodologies of digital architecture is the new material that has emerged from other philosophical methodologies and architectural discourse. New processes are created through historical references and a shift from transitions such as post-modernism and deconstructivism but at the same time using similar elements to create a new style in architecture. Digital architecture is able to "recuperate and enhance the deconstructivist moves within a new capacity to create diversity within a complex order."13

8

Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." p. 34 Schumacher, Patrik. "The Parametricist Epoch: Let the Style Wars Begin" 10 Xu, Feng. "Interview: Patrik Schumacher" 11 Schumacher, Patrik. "The Parametricist Epoch: Let the Style Wars Begin" 12 Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." p. 37 13 Schumacher, Patrik. "The Parametricist Epoch: Let the Style Wars Begin"
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Ankit Surti

The Evolution of Digital Architecture The concepts of digital architecture were explored a long time ago however, the technology was not available to implement the ideas that were formed. Jeffrey Kipnis states, "that the supposed New Architecture is actually not new at all and that it was explored in more depth and authenticity in Europe sometime ago."14 However, the use of generative software packages to propagate and design a building is a new artefact. The philosophical ideas of digital architecture have emerged from the philosophy of Giles Deleuze. His ideas and concepts have helped shape the new paradigm and frame 'new materialism'. The emergence of digital architecture evolved when architects such as Peter Eisenman and Gregg Lynn started to explore folding in architecture which drew philosophical substance from the work of Deleuze. The attention was shifted from post-structural semiotics to a consideration of developments in geometry, science and the transformations of political space. A shift that is often marked as a move from Derridian towards a Deluezian discourse.15 In Leibniz in Le Pli, Deleuze stages his mediation on the fold and interpretation of the space of Baroque architecture, thus it might be assumed that Baroque architecture stands as a paradigm of the architectural effects of the fold.16 Folding in architecture became a reaction against deconstruction that arose in the early 1990s. Lynn started to explore curvilinearity, pliancy, gentle blending and of course folding that became an experimentation of geometric forms. The folding trend soon followed using the computer and was announcing the formal investigation of digital architecture.17 From the mid 1990s on, the computer became an essential tool in the exploration of folding and curvilinearity. The spread of the computer has now, allowed architects to dramatically expand the range of their formal vocabulary. What is new is not only the variety of geometrical shapes available, but also the possibility to define them rigorously using generative rules.18

14
15

Meeuwen, Rene. "Blobitecture, Lost in the Labrynth" Kipnis, Jeffrey. "Towards a New Architecture." 16 Ibid pp. 106 17 Picon, Antoine p. 64 18 Ibid pp. 70

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Ankit Surti

Today's architects can design their own software, implementing advanced computational methods, and create data visualisations that make complex information more accessible.19 The enormous calculating power of computers make it easier to develop a design through computational techniques that respond to its environment and the external forces affecting the parameters of a design. New and innovative designs can be produced that achieve structural and environmental performances that were once considered to be post-design optimisation processes.20 Digital architecture is the new evolution of an architectural style that uses various parameters in controlling the generation of forms and is not a process that randomly generates forms. Certain protocols and ways of thinking are applied to create variations of forms. The Process Digital architecture is all about process rather than representation. The emphasise on performance through the controllers of processes that generate structural formations. The design seeks to challenge the control of top-down process of form making, and replace it with a bottom-up logic of form finding.21 The normative process becomes the form making and digital computational techniques become the generative tool of form finding. Digital architecture have three states of action: input of a data set, the manipulation and analysis of the data set and the output of the dataset.22 Digital architecture as a style requires the three phase process for it to be truly about digital process. The basic structure of design tasks within the computational process includes:      Definition of the problem field Determination of criteria of selection Definition and modification of rules for form generation Development of n models Evaluation by designer/user evaluation (back to task 2).

These tasks create an iterative, recursive process beginning with the establishment of parameters or rules, which are then used to generate models, followed by an evaluation
19 20

Tierney, Therese p. 99 Bessa, Maria p. 123 21 Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." p. 34 22 Meeuwen, Rene. "Blobitecture, Lost in the Labrynth"

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Ankit Surti

stage providing feedback, which is then further used to refine the parameters.23 Through feedback, the design evolves. The computational process affords a dynamic, interactive, and responsive process between the designer and the program. The designer's intention in digital architecture is to increase the occurrences of n models in order to develop many more possible variations and versions to create additional choices. The models can then be evaluated, manipulated or modified to develop its functionality. The use of computational techniques is merely a generative tool that frames a new style in architecture. "Computers have no intelligence but enormous calculating power. Humans have enormous intelligence but limited calculating power."24 As a result, the computer is used as a tool in developing conceptual ideas that are initially thought by the designer. Architectural concepts are expressed as generative rules creating the DNA of a design. The relationship between the designer and the computer creates a new way of thinking about architecture which has resulted into a paradigm shift. The role of an architect has not changed significantly as Leach states, "It is not that the architect here is any less imaginative, rather, the architectural imagination has been displaced into a different arena - into the imaginative use of various processes."25 The architect is still the decision maker and has full control on the computational processes that needs to be applied. The parameters are applied by the architect in the form making process. The role is accomplished through the architect's simultaneous interpretation and manipulation of computational tools that decide the outcome of the final product. Digital computational processes can benefit the design process as various construction tasks can easily be developed simultaneously. "What we encounter with such programs is the potential to view the whole design operation as a process. What applies to structure could equally well apply to other aspects of the building process - to acoustic or environmental concerns, to constructional or programmatic issues."26 The computer is being not used as a tool of representation, but as a generative mechanism that becomes a part of the design process. Generating new forms while also having instantaneous feedback on their

23 24

Tierney, Therese p. 107 Leach, Neil, et al. Digital Tectonics p. 75 25 Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." p.35 26 Leach, Neil, et al. Digital Tectonics p. 75

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Ankit Surti

performance from different perspectives such as space usage, lighting and fabrication guides the forms that reflect on the architectural functionality rather than contradict real design constraints.27 An important aspect of the design process that digital architecture lacks is the way bodies react with the building. The phenomenological conditions of architecture is overlooked as architectural form has become so intensive through the realm of digital architecture. Juhani Pallasmaa argues that form has become more important than the human experience and that the design of a building is influenced by the form that it generates rather than how a building is experienced. He states, ""We make the mistake of thinking of, and assessing, a building as a formal composition, no longer understanding that it is a metaphor, let alone experiencing the other reality that lies behind the metaphor."28 Pallasmaa also, talks about the emotions connected to human experiences and how those emotions should be considered in the design process. Emotions are linked to phenomenological conditions and the human experience of inhabitation. Working with the emotions develops architecture as Pallasmaa states, "...emotions form the genuine "basic vocabulary" of architecture and it is by working through them that work becomes architecture and not, for instance, a large-scale sculpture or scenography."29 The emotions act as the language of the body which architecture has to respond to and the digital realm seems to be missing this particular aspect.

The role of the computer has changed the way architects design and has an impact on the thinking of phenomenology. Martin Heidegger opposed modern developments of technology by blaming technology for the hastening of everyday life in the service of yield. 30 Pallasmaa also, expresses his concern, considering the role of the computer in the design process. Computer imaging tends to flatten our magnificent, multi sensory, simultaneous and synchronic capacities of imagination by turning the design process into a passive visual manipulation, a retinal journey.31 Human experience is essential and digital architecture does not implement this into its design processes and computational techniques.

27 28

Ibid pp.89 Pallasmaa, Juhani. "The geometry of Feeling the Phenomenology of Architecture." p. 243 29 Ibid pp. 245
30

Grünkranz, Daniel

31

Pallasmaa, Juhani. "The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses". p.12

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Ankit Surti

Zaha Hadid Architects An architectural firm that has started to implement digital architecture is Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). ZHA focuses on parametric design and explores the notion of parametricism. The work of ZHA has changed over the years as emergence of a new style influences its basis of exploration. The new paradigm has brought a new style to its conceptual thinking and architectural discourse. Over the years, Hadid's way of thinking has changed as her practice has changed, from that of an radical visionary to an architect designing large-scale projects that are now being built in various parts of the world.32 Hadid started by using drawing to an unusual degree as a means of communicating her architectural ideas. Her compositions were very unique and complicated to understand with various systems of projections in order to formulate the spatial relationships and the visionary thoughts she had (Fig.1). Hadid's thinking started to change as she realized if she wanted to build, her designs would have to work within property lines and other limitations - material and conceptual imposed by clients.33 Thus, a change in style started to evolve. The development of computer in architectural design and construction became a huge factor in Hadid's philosophy. The emergence of parametricism has influenced ZHA in exploring movement and fluidity in architecture. It enables the geometric complexity manageable. The use of scripted parametric systems allows to create a design that is restricted to formal, functional and environmental constraints. For instance, the use of parametricism in the Innsbruck train stations demonstrate the fluidity and the conditions achieved by ZHA (Fig. 2). "No other style could have achieved this coincidence of adaptive variation to the different site conditions with genotypical coherence across those phenotypical variants."34 Parametricism is able to create diversity and animate the form or the surface. The development of digital architecture certainly, has done nothing to diminish the intensity of ZHA's architecture, though it has changed it as a visual presence and a philosophical

32
33

Woods, Lebbeus p. 30 Ibid pp.33 34 Schumacher, Patrik. "The Parametricist Epoch: Let the Style Wars Begin"

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Ankit Surti

proposition.35 The new style has coincided with the dramatic shift in ZHA's design and clearly has gave it movement. Parametricism is argued as the great new style by ZHA and its basis of exploration has lead to the progression of a research group called the ZHA Computational Design Research Group. The research group develops scripted parametric systems that relate to the firms architectural discourse and considers environmental factors.

Fig.1: Drawing of Vitra Fire Station

Fig 2: Innsbruck train stations

Fig 2: Innsbruck train stations

35

Woods, Lebbeus p. 34

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Ankit Surti

Conclusion Digital architecture is the new movement towards a paradigm shift and a new style has emerged through the techniques of generative computational design. Digital architecture is process based and its emphasis is on material performance rather than representation. The computational techniques such as algorithms are used as a tool in assisting architects in the generative process. The architect is still the decision maker and develops the parameters of input data. The design involves a top-down process of form making and a bottom-up logic of form finding. The shift in technology has had a huge influence in architectural design and this shift can particularly be seen, as architecture moves into the digital era. An important element of design process the digital lacks is phenomenology. The human experience of space and architecture is lost as the emphasis is more on form. Parametricism is implemented by ZHA and argue that it is the great new style after modernism. Digital architecture has shifted its architectural processes into computational parametrics. The new style is being explored and tested through built projects which reveal the digital expressions and processes.

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Ankit Surti

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Kolarevic, Branko. "Digital Architectures". 2000. 20 May 2010. <http://cumincad.scix.net/cgibin/works/Show?_id=dcb9&sort=DEFAULT&search=Br anko%20Kolarevic&hits=41>.

Kolarevic, Branko. "Digital Morphogenesis and Computational Architectures." constructing the digital Space 4th SIGRADI Conference Proceedings, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).25-28 September 2000 (2000): 98-103. Kolarevic, Branko. "Manufacturing Digital Architecture". 2001. 20 May 2010. <http://cumincad.scix.net/cgibin/works/Show?_id=9a44&sort=DEFAULT&search=%2 2digital%20architectures%22&hits=7>. Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. Leach, Neil. "Digital Cities." Architectural Design 79.4 (2009): 6-13. Leach, Neil. Digital Cities Ad. John Wiley and Sons, 2009. Leach, Neil. "Digital Morphogenesis." Architectural Design 79.1 (2009): 32-37. Leach, Neil, et al. Digital Tectonics. Wiley-Academy, 2004. Leach, Neil. "The Limits of Urban Simulation: An Interview with Manuel Delanda." Architectural Design 79.4 (2009): 50-55. Lynn, Greg. Folding in Architecture. Wiley-Academy, 2004. Massumi, Brian. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Duke University Press, 2002. Meeuwen, Rene. "Blobitecture, Lost in the Labrynth". 2009. 10 June 2010. <http://www.renevan.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51:blb s&catid=35:contemporary&Itemid=57>. O'Sullivan, Simon, and Stephen Zepke. Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New. Continuum, 2009. Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2005 Pallasmaa, Juhani. "The geometry of Feeling the Phenomenology of Architecture." The Architecture Reader: Essential Writings From Vitruvius to the Present. New York: George Braziller, 2007. p. 243 (1985).

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Picon, Antoine. Digital Culture in Architecture: An Introduction for the Design Professions. Birkhauser Basel, 2010. Rahim, Ali, and Hina Jamelle. "Beyond the Structural Skin Zaha Hadid Architects: Marsa Dubai Residential Tower." Architectural Design 77.1 (2007): 62-65. Schumacher, Patrik. "Parametric Diagrammes". London, 2010. 5 June 2010. <http://www.patrikschumacher.com/Texts/Parametric%20Diagrammes.html>. Schumacher, Patrik. "Parametric Patterns." Architectural Design 79.6 (2009): 28-41. Schumacher, Patrik. "Parametricism: A New Global Style for Architecture and Urban Design." Architectural Design 79.4 (2009): 14-23.

Schumacher, Patrik. "The Parametricist Epoch: Let the Style Wars Begin". 2010. 5 June 2010. <>. Terzidis, Kostas. Algorithmic Architecture. Architectural Press, 2006. Tierney, Therese. Abstract Space. Routledge, 2007. Trummer, Peter. "Morphogenetic Urbanism." Architectural Design 79.4 (2009): 64-67. Woods, Lebbeus. "Drawn into Space: Zaha Hadid." Architectural Design 78.4 (2008): 28-35. Xu, Feng. "Interview: Patrik Schumacher". 2009. June 10 2010. <http://www.patrikschumacher.com/Texts/Interview_WA_May%2009_english.htm>

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