Design Modelling Symposium 2011

"Complexity and Responsibility“

Contemporary architectural production employs an increasing number of computational tools that expand their role within the design process. CAD/CAM technologies have matured into applications with increasingly user-friendly program structures and an efficient exchange between various analytical tools.

Computational geometry enables the design and manufacturing of complex surface configurations, a capacity beyond the repertoire of analog architectural practices constrained by the limitations of descriptive geometry. CAD/CAM technology have been used successfully to achieve novel architectural expression by enabling digital geometry to drive digital fabrication processes. These innovations that have changed the work flow and design approach of a wide range of architectural practices.

In parallel to these advances, limitations have become apparent. In many cases the relationship between design idea and computational tool seems reversed. The resulting buildings appear as reduced materialization of the possibilities of the design tools that shaped them. Only few examples exist where computational tools are used to develop design solutions for complex building programs within a moderate budget, yet driven by a rich conceptual approach that ventures beyond established theoretical paradigms of computational practice.

On the basis of these observations, a critical evaluation of the relationships between tool, conceptual model and final materialization appears necessary. The promise of an increased role of computation in the design of architecture lies in the manifold solutions that exceed human calculative capacities. A good example is the experimental use of FEM based analysis and generative form finding methods in structural design. However, these processes depend strongly on boundary conditions induced in the problem setup defined by the architect or engineer. Each optimization—be it structural or environmental —therefore can only produce a result within the realm of the abstracted (computational) model and cant not seen as a final solution for the physical world.

The complexity of the interconnected and often conflicting information required to shape a building remains a challenge for contemporary computational processes. A future architectural practice needs to cultivate a critical awareness of such limitations in order to develop successful future strategies.

The critical dialog that we envision and encourage at the Design Modelling Symposium Berlin 2011 should be achieved by a collective contemplation of these current approaches and their related technological developments. We would like to promote discussion on future strategies for a reasonable and innovative implementation of computational design.

The following lectures and talks presented at the Design Modelling Symposium Berlin 2011 is a cross section through current cutting edge research in the field. Some of the presentations respond to the challenges and questions formulated above, others open up new discourses departing from the topics outlined here.