Architecture and AI

Studio Fall 2020
Institute for Future Human Habitat Studies (iFHHs)
at the Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School (SIGS)

Matias del Campo, PhD
Sandra Manninger, PhD
Teaching assistance
Li Yuqian
Deng Xiangtian

A{AI} overview
Technologies are significantly driving the way we design. But as much as we are shaped by our social, cultural, and natural environments, so is technology, when we choose how to use and engage with it. Design interfaces and connects us to new technologies. It can uncover unmet user needs and propose unimagined opportunities to create innovative designs, that have the potential to change behaviors, economies, and culture itself.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in general, and Machine Learning (ML) specifically, are already affecting our everyday life, however, how they will manifest in the disciplines of architecture and design is still in question.
Our futures are being established by technologies that are developed today. We do have the chance to engage with these emergent technologies and shape the way they are designed, applied and maintained. Design should not be utilized as an afterthought or mainly to repair damage, design should be leading us forward.

A{AI} project
Studio A{AI} has been invited to participate in the CityX project, curated by Professor Tom Kovac at RMIT. Some of the projects might get the opportunity to present their work at the Architecture Biennale Venice, in 2021.
Transdisciplinary and globally focused in its intent and content, CityX invites leading international architecture schools, visionaries and design researchers to explore innovative design research strategies addressing the future of Chinese cities It aims to showcase new architectural and urban design concepts for the staged development of Xiong’an New Area. This will occur through international studio and design workshops, debates and discussions with leading researchers producing engaging dynamic design solutions.
CityX presents a unique opportunity to investigate urban design strategies and architectural proposals that can inform the future evolution and sustainable development of Xiong’an New Area. The research project strategy will aim at commissioning and curating architectural and urban design investigations into the future development of Xiong’an with a particular focus on the impact of emerging urban economies and technologies. Its research will be launched as a blueprint for the sustainable future evolution of architectural and urban design in China.

Students will be focusing on a field of their interest. Starting off with an intensive design and research workshop that will introduce the main tools used during the semester, we’ll be working in teams to develop varying modes of operation.

A{AI} method
The methodological approach is two-fold. We will critically examine the current landscape of ML, including its technological, social, and cultural aspects. On the one side we will inform ourselves about existing technologies and applications as well as design tools, with a specific focus on how these techniques are currently introduced in the fields of art and design. We will look at the shape of data that forms the base for these algorithmic models. We will consider opportunities to develop new design sensibilities, reframing authorship, bias, and errors in the design protocols. And we will be examining how existing human-centered design methods align with these new technologies, or what new methods may emerge.
The technological aspect of the course will include the training of a specific algorithmic model and its respective pre- and postprocessing protocols. No coding skills are required.

A{AI} expected outcomes
This studio will emphasise on the conceptualization and design for the development of Xiong’an New Area.
CityX is inviting design concepts and creative proposals for the city of Xiong’an New Area, China. It presents a unique opportunity to make architectural proposals that aim to inform the future evolution of Xiong’an New Area. The urban propositions for the development for Xiong’an are to be investigated as short, mid and long-term projections. Invited participants are encouraged to present design research led visions and proposals for the staged development of Xiong’an. Propositions are to range in scale from the urban, infrastructural built fabric scale architectural designed projects, new fabrication techniques and technologies.

A{AI} learning experience
By the successful completion of this course, students will:
1 Be comfortable working with new technologies and shaping them.
Gain experience at working with new technologies, understanding the voice that design has in determining how new technologies are used and in what direction they develop, and be able to apply a critical lens on their social and cultural impact.
Use learnings to recommend new technology features, tools, or directions for its future development.
2 Be able to define a complex design problem through research, framing, and apply research methods to studio work.
Be able to investigate and utilize precedent, contextual and literary research to shape design questions and processes.
Articulate concepts, critique arguments, manage the creative process and work as a team member.
Apply this knowledge toward the development of original, insightful, critical explorations.
3 Be able to understand, manage and develop design processes.
Be able to conceptualize design protocols and corresponding technology requirements.
Understand different design processes, the rationale for choosing one vs another, and be able to manage a project using that process.
4 Understand the landscape of existing design methods & tools and be able to utilize those that are appropriate to the project — or, if necessary, develop new methods that better serve the project’s needs.

A{AI} schedule

A{AI} requirements
There are no specific requirements or prior knowledge of software utilized in the studio. This studio however is geared towards students with a keen interest in the application of computational tools in their respective design projects.

A{AI} reading list
2009: Boden, Margaret A.: The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms (Creativity in a Nutshell, p. 1-10), London: Routledge
2012: Carpo, Mario: The Digital Turn in Architecture, Hoboken: Wiley
2014: Carpo, Mario: Breaking the Curve: Big Data in Design, in Artforum, Vol 52, No 6 New York: Next
2016: Bratton, Benjamin H.: The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, Cambridge: The MIT Press
2016: del Campo, Matias (Ed): AD Moods, Hoboken: Wiley
2017: Wright Steenson, Molly: Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape, Cambridge: MIT Press
2018: Bridal, James: New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, New York: Verso
2018: Ford, Martin: Architects of Intelligence: The truth about AI from the people building it, Birmingham: Packt

A{AI} viewing list
1977: Eames, Charles and Ray: Powers of 10
2014: Bratton, Benjamin: The Stack: Design and Geopolitics in the Age of Planetary-Scale Computing
2014: Tyldum, Morten: The Imitation Game
2016: Bridal, James: A New Dark Age (33c3)
2019: Bratton, Benjamin: An Update on The Stack
2020: Kohs, Greg: AlphaGo