The Work of System Stalker Lab is presented at NCBDS 2015.

The Work of System Stalker Lab is presented at NCBDS 2015.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 11:15

Maya is presenting the work of System Stalker Lab at the National Conference of Beginning Design Students 2015 through a research paper entitled "Confronting Complexity:An Introduction By Way of Design Computation". The conference is hosted by the University of Houston and runs from February 26-28, 2015

Paper Abstract

Studio briefs, influenced by an expansive view of architectural practice are increasingly foregrounding the architectural problem as inter-related, dynamic, and complex. Such a position is often focused on exposing patterns and processes as key drivers in a project. Sometimes this affects design projects in directly formal ways, and other times, these forces manifest in operational strategies. The discourse and studio projects surrounding Landscape Urbanism, which advocates a design practice wherein the project is seen to both affect and be affected by an inclusive set of environmental, social and economic factors, is an example of this. Through the lens of such a systems-based approach, the site is foregrounded as being dynamic, interconnected, resilient and indeterminate, and strategies for design within this flux are sought out.

How can we directly confront some of these qualities around complexity in early design? How can we foster the development of new methodologies and introduce new tools to beginning designers to incrementally build the capacity to confront complexity in design projects? One approach, discussed here, involves coupling the learning around the systems-based design approach suggested above with another highly in-demand curricular component – that of design computation. Like its parent discipline of computation and other trans-disciplinary appropriations (such as computational ecology, computational economics etc.), design computation inherently presents strategies for managing complexity. However, within the academy, design computation is often presented, by way of workshops or elective courses, as a platform-specific skill highlighting the use of a computational tool (such as Grasshopper) to solve a suite of predetermined exercises. Recognizing that the field of design computation is changing and new applications for it are constantly emerging, it is opportune to explore ways to foreground the teaching of design computation not only as a specific tool or platform but as a methodology by which to approach design problem complexity in general.

System Stalker Lab, a third year undergraduate studio, introduces students to issues of complexity by way of an exploration of design computation. The studio incorporates key concepts from the discipline of Computer Science and draw parallels between it and design practice by unpacking cross-disciplinary notions of algorithmic thinking, representation, programming, and design. The studio sees the students engage with computation, enabling them to develop project-specific tools to structure their work as a dynamic system, and then explore the space of that system and develop it in an iterative manner to arrive at the final proposition. The studio exercises described here are designed to deliver the technical skills-based instruction required of design computation while, simultaneously, developing the students’ ability to confront, manage and respond to the complexity within a design problem.

Image Credit:  A Machinefor Revitalization, Natalie Bellefleur and Cam Parkin, SSL 2013