Between Emergence and IntentionRoland Snooks
Emergent processes of formation create intensive, heterogeneous, intricate, complex phenomena. These processes have come to define our contemporary understanding of the nature of becoming, which stands in contrast to established notions of design and intention.
The experimental design research posited here speculates on this relationship between emergent processes of formation and architectural design intention, and explores the strange and specific qualities of the architecture that is drawn out of this interaction.
This design research operates within a larger architectural and cultural concern for complex systems and their role in algorithmic design processes. The original contribution of this work to the larger milieu is the articulation of a design process in which architectural intention is embedded within emergent processes. This is a reconceptualization of design intention as behaviors that interact in a self-organizing process of formation – Behavioral Formation. Intention, in this process, is recast as discrete, micro-scale architectural decisions, relationships, or procedures that are encoded as behaviors within multi-agent algorithms. The local interaction of these agents self-organizes architectural design intention at the macro-level.
Behavioral Formation develops, and exploits, an intricate intertwining of intention and emergence. The design intention of the architect is both encoded within algorithmic systems of emergence and operates externally to the algorithm in a feedback loop conditioned by explicit decisions and the evaluation of emergent outcomes. This approach is an important shift from the dominant contemporary architectural use of algorithms where design intention is limited solely to iterative evaluation. The implications of working through these highly iterative, non-linear, computational design processes are manifest as a compression of hierarchies, a blurring of geometric types, and the uncoupling of geometric elements from architectural roles.
RMIT Mace, 2015-2016. Detail of the titanium printed fibrous mass.
This body of work aims to establish both a behavioral approach to architectural design and to tease out the strange specificity of its architecture through the interaction of self-organization and subjective intention. Ultimately, the ambition of this architectural design work is not processual; instead, it is concerned with the specific qualities, characteristics, and affects of the architecture created through this approach that exceed—but are integrally dependent upon—their generative processes.