Within contemporary architectural design a significant shift in emphasis can be detected – a move away from an architecture based primarily on visual concerns towards an architecture justified by its performance. Structural, constructional, economic, environmental and other parameters – concerns that were once relegated to a secondary level – have now become primary, and are being embraced as positive inputs into the design process from the outset. Architecture – it would seem – is now preoccupied less with style and appearance, and increasingly with material processes and performance. It is as though a new architectural design sensibility has emerged.
But how exactly might we theorize this new sensibility? The course tracks this new development from its origins in materialist philosophies to its implications within the field of design. It draws upon biomimetics and other aspects of scientific thinking, such as theories of emergence and swarm intelligence, that are informing recent developments in contemporary design thinking. It goes on to consider the role of computation in this development, from new scripting techniques to fabrication technologies, from the scale of individual components to entire cities, and from terrestrial concerns to new robotic technologies being envisaged by NASA for application on the Moon. The aim of the class is to provide a theoretical manifesto for a new way of approaching design that is sweeping through architecture and urbanism.