HIGH RESOLUTION FABRIC OF ARCHITECTURE by Alisa Andrasek

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Abstract

Architecture’s “superpower” resides in the complex synthesis of a multitude of agencies, the bringing together multiple determinants such those of program, site, available modes of construction, materiality, economics, culture into a re-sounding whole. This thesis explores a set of new approaches for achieving this architectural synthesis that stems from a close engagement with the rapidly expanding volumes of computation and information available. It proposes that a radical increase in resolution is an important dimension with which to understand this change. Higher resolution affords a level of detail and expanded scope with which design decisions can now be made and has led to a not just quantita-tive but also qualitative shift in the nature of architectural objects and the means of their formation. Following from this is a change in the way such objects may be usefully comprehended within a contemporary context. This thesis draws on the projects of the design practice Biothing, and the related academic research entity Wonder-lab, both led by the author, to provide evidence that highlights the relationships between the logics and structures of this moment’s informational ecology and the objects of architectural design practice. These projects deploy a series of methodologies for producing architecture that conceptualise architecture as being fundamentally determined by dynamic structures of information, and so opens architecture to concepts and techniques utilised in broader extra-dis-ciplinary informational ecologies. A reflection on the qualities of these particular designs, and the means by which they were produced leads to the development of a series of concepts that may be useful in informing and guiding these new modes of architectural making. Further, these conceptions can serve to relate and locate this kind of architecture to the logics of formation of the contemporary world at large. If the linearity of established architectural processes emphasises determinacy, deductive, hierarchy and stasis, then renewed architecture – the kind of high resolution architecture proposed here answers to indeterminacy, volatile condi-tions, contingency and openness. Recognising that architecture is as fundamentally informational as it is material, with an intrinsic structure of informa-tion and concepts on which to operate, this work rewrites architecture’s logical core by inhabiting the ecology of new tools and accelerating capacities used to process information. Instead of mimicking human logic, as does the majority of architecture’s use of computational tools to date, this work embraces a new kind of logic entirely. This new logic has the capacity to solve problems and reveal territories that were previously inaccessible to human cognition. By em-bracing the nonhuman side of the equation, we merge a deep architectural history of complex synthesis with this new resource. We so uncover a usage of computation in design that is more natural to the processes of computation. The products of such an increase in resolution of architectural agency are characterised by structures with enhanced resiliency, plasticity, and malleability of complex interrelated systems; in short, increased designability of entities embedded in complex ecologies. It allows for speculative proposals of unprecedented nature, complexity and scale. Within the increased resolution of design fabrics it is uncovering an architectural superperformance, previously unseen aesthetics and an expanding contribution of a nonhuman design agency.

Year: 2018

Examiners: Prof Zeynep Mennan, Prof Ir. Bart Lootsma Supervisors: Assoc Prof Paul Minifie, Dr phil. habil. Marcelo Stamm

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