Die Angewandte, Vienna
See below a synopsis of my last master seminars at the Institute of Architecture of die Angewandte (University of Applied Arts) in Vienna, from where I shall retire in the fall of 2023 due to statutory age limits in Austrian State Universities.
Theory of Architecture 1 (2021W, VD, Vorlesung und Diskussion) and Theory of Architecture 2 (2022S, SEW, wissenschaftliche Seminar)
Architecture, Theory of Architecture 1
Lecture and Discussion (VD), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03632
Architecture, Theory of Architecture 2
scientific seminar (SEW), 3.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03528
Theory of Arch 1 (lectures and discussion, term 1) and Theory of Arch 2 (seminar, term 2) are sequential courses, and both will consist of lectures and seminar-like discussions throughout both terms. While it is possible to take ThArch 1 during the first semester and not ThArch2 during the second, I would recommend not to take ThArch 2 in the second semester without taking ThArch 1 in the first, as the course in the second semester will build upon work done during the first. (Students will be allowed to join ThArch 2 without having followed ThArch 1, but they may be asked to do some supplemental work at the start of the second term, to catch up). Taken together, Theory of Architecture 1 and 2 aim to present a comprehensive survey of computational design history and theory from around 1945 to this day, with emphasis on the 1990s and on contemporary developments. This survey will be mostly chronological, with the first term covering events till the late 1990s and the second term covering the last 20 years and contemporary topics, problems, and perspectives.
GENERAL COURSE DESCRIPTION (applies to ThArch1 and ThArch2):
These two courses will assess the present state of computer-based design by situating today’s digital turn within the long duration of the history of cultural technologies. The first course will start by describing the technical logics of hand-making, mechanical reproductions, and digital making, highlighting the differences between digital variability, manual and artisanal variations, and the mechanical mass-production of identical copies. It will focus on some instances of identical reproduction that were crucial in architectural history, and particularly on the early modern invention of architectural notations and of architectural authorship (the rise of the ‘Albertian paradigm’ in the Renaissance), and on the modernist principle of standardization in the 20th century. It will then outline a brief history of the digital turn and of its theoretical and technological premises: starting with a brief survey of the “prehistory of the digital” in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, highlighting the roles of Wiener’s cybernetics and the first steps of Artificial Intelligence up to and including works of Cedric Price, Gordon Pask, and Nicholas Negroponte; then discussing decline and fall of technological optimism in the 1970s and the onset of the so-called “winter of artificial intelligence.” It will then focus on the turning point of the early 1990s: the legacies of Post-Modernism, Deconstructivism and the invention of the Deleuzian Fold; works of Bernard Cache and Greg Lynn; the rise of the spline-dominated environment in the late 1990s (Gehry, Catia, and technical history of splines and NURBS); the transition from free-form, topology and digital formalism to mass-customization and non-standard seriality.
The second term will start with a brief recap of topics discusses in the first term, then pursue the same historiographic timeline starting from around year 2000: the burst of the dotcom bubble, the re-invention of the “participatory web” (the Web 2.0) in the early 2000s, and subsequent developments in digital interactivity, participatory making and building information modelling (BIM), followed by a discussion of general problems of digital authorship (“from mass-customization to mass-collaboration”). ThArch2 will then review the cultural and epistemological implication of Big Data, and the legacy of the post-modern sciences of complexity, emergence and self-organizing systems: cellular automata, evolutionary algorithms, simulation, optimization, material computation, bio-computing, discretism and robotic automation. Last, we shall briefly appraise some recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning applied to image processing (GAN, style transfer and other forms of generative AI), and their uses in architectural design. Particular attention will be devoted to the politics of post-digital design computing, and to the environmental and social implications of contemporary modes of automated fabrication.
Both courses will be based on the instructor’s presentations, in the format of academic lectures. It is expected that we shall be able to invite a number of guests speakers (either in person or on-line) to present topics derived from their own research or practice. The timing of these invitations will depend on the guest speaker’s availability, so these presentations may not be in sync with the chronological timeline covered by the instructor’s own presentations. Students will be asked to make an effort to reconstruct an orderly sequence of topics and content in spite of some accidental disorder in the sequence of the guest speakers’ talks.