The dissertation Autonomous Tectonics presents itself as a forensic examination of the work of my practice SPAN. The text interrogates how design research serves as a main tool for the development of novel trajectories in the practice. This scene is set in this document by the description of two main design approaches through a series of projects, the top down design technique of topological modelling and its application in a series of projects, and the subsequent transformation into a primarily bottom up technique, through the use of recursive algorithms and the exploration of emergent fabrication methods.
The text examines how a design research went full circle – from an abstract machine (see p.180),-an object containing the opportunities to be interpreted as a series of projects- through projects in an intermediate scale (Exhibition Designs, see p.143 – 178) to the scale of a building In what can be described as a plot-twist, the basic design technique of curvilinear, continuous spaces consisting of smooth single surfaces (see, Austrian Pavilion, p. 202-228) was abandoned in favour of a high resolution, intricate object condition with a clear tendency towards a granular component assembly that embraces the main architectural problems of joints, mullions, doors, arches, columns, fenestrations and corner problems (see for example, ORE, Shanghai Fashion Week Pavilions, p.229-234) . This change allowed to discuss the projects considering the long trajectories of the architectural discipline. However, in contrast to the examples that exercise full control in a top down design process, Autonomous Tectonics speculates on the aspect of a non-anthropocentric design environment, where the architect as the sole genius of a design is perceived as suspicious figure, and ideas of full automation in design are embraced as an alternative creative environment.
This alternative method of design opens opportunities to discuss aspects of a Postdigital world, of the impact of automation to society, economy and culture, as well as providing alternative morphologies, typologies and organizations of space. A novel cultural entity that discusses moments of estrangement, the culture of the familiar vs the unfamiliar, the morphological language of big data, the sensibilities of AI’s and seeks a conversation on the aspects of architecture that possesses disciplinary autonomy, but is simultaneously embedded in the currents of a changing culture of production in which Autonomous Tectonics will be at play. This novel cultural entity is shared with a series of colleagues and peers who work on related conditions. People like Hernan Diaz Alonso, Francois Roche, Roland Snooks, Ezio Blassetti and Danielle Williams, Alisa Andrasek, Nicolo Cassas and more. This dissertation is an attempt to discuss the evolution of the work of SPAN through the lens of discoursive inquiry and cultural agency, resulting in the concept of Autonomous Tectonics.
In contrast to my partner, Sandra Manninger, who’s contribution to discourse, deals with the aspects of geometry in SPAN’s body of work, this dissertation is primarily concerned with aspects of materialization and the affect produced through instances and artifacts of fabrication.
All of this is accompanied by the critical interrogation of the ontological and epistemological framework emerging from the becoming of these objects. Philosophy, in this frame of thinking (see p.240 – 266) serves as a source of inspiration and forms the base for the creation of a language to describe the projects inherent qualities. As Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said: What you cannot talk about, you have to remain silent about.
For me this was never a proposition to remain silent, but a challenge to develop -and even invent- a language to describe and talk about my projects.
Examiners: Prof Bob Sheil, Dr Yael Reisner Supervisors: Prof Vivian Mitsogianni, A/Prof Paul Minifie