Mapping (1) is a very ancient way to bring order to one’s spatial surroundings by using graphic techniques. Humans modify the parameters of spatial representations to meet their changing needs (2). Thus originated city plans (3 – 4), route maps, regional (chorographic) maps (5), and world maps (6)—depending on the scale of reduction. Nautical charts (7) came into being with the development of maritime traffic (8-10) in the Mediterranean basin (11). An evolutionary paradigm, which only considers the development of geographic accuracy and precision in mapping, is not applicable to the history of cartography (12). Maps are not always concerned with the depiction of material reality. In the case of religious cartography (13), medieval “Mappaemundi” (14) reflect the anxieties and expectations of Western societies. Modern route maps and the distance maps of antiquity (15-16) serve the same purpose, and their syntax is not substantially different. With the formation of modern states, cartography became an instrument for war and for controlling territory (17). This initiated (18) the mathematical construction of maps (19) and their geometric formalization (20). Along with the standardization of conventional signs and the development of new methods of projection, these developments matured in the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment (21-22).
“Some have taken a negative stance on BIM and parametrics as they assume so much about the design process and limit any work produced to the user’s knowledge of the program. This can enable a novice designer who has learned how to perform basic commands to become an incredibly prolific producer while a highly educated and experienced architect can be crippled from inexperience with a programs interface or underlying concepts. This creates a potential for a generational break line that becomes more harsh as a new technology gains market parity.”—http://www.architectureresearchlab.com/arl/2011/08/21/bim-history/
“OMA is famous for two things: its astounding output, and the extent to which its operations chew through the majority of the human capital that walks through its doors. As an office that had already made a name for itself and was lucky to enjoy a steady flow of applications from aspiring young interns, OMA could organize around a workflow that depended on the maximum variety and quantity of design explorations before electing one to carry forward. Like Turing 60 years prior, OMA’s operations are based on brute forcing through the search space. Whereas Turing relied on something that would later come to be known as computing power, OMA relies on employees who willfully work long hours to be part of the magical machine.”—http://etc.ofthiswearesure.com/2012/05/brute-force-architecture/
Among the interesting conclusions drawn by Foz from
his experiment is the importance of simulation during the parti
design as a way of making decisions. Design was better characterized ‘as a learning activity than as an analytic dissection of a formal problem’. If human information processing capacities seem to be the same for individuals, the performance of the skill designer relies in part on his ability to organize knowledge in well structured chunks and to use these chunks in an efficient sequence. Skill designers make more tests on the ideas that occur to them and tend to delay the arrival at a building form proposal. They use three-dimensional representation often, not as a display of a completed design proposal but as a part of the information process.
Such a study seems to have great significance if we really want to inquire as to what could be a reasonable use of automatized methods during the design process. The idea of computer-aided design has to be discarded. The use of these methods cannot be as an exterior and miraculous help whose effectiveness is dependent on the state of the art of a discipline which has nothing to do with architecture (computer science).
“This is particularly problematic when the designed site includes architectural form. While the role of the fundamental building block of urbanism may have changed, the Duplo-buildings cannot simply be ignored in favour of the new Technic-landscapes.”—I am determined to make this lego pun/metaphor work. So far, no dice.
Considering that none of the allied professions of art, architecture, and engineering seem to have such existential angst,10 the major result of such debate seems to be the revelation that landscape architecture is hamstrung by its own ambiguous nature. Even worse, anything landscape architecture does—whether it’s site engineering, site ecology, environmental art, site design, planting plans, sustainable design, cultural criticism— there is another field that can do it, and do it better.
This conundrum has led to two opposing forces acting on the field: The first is an outward/centrifugal pull, expanding the field to encompass all areas, reducing, eliminating and blurring disciplinary boundaries; the second is an inward/centripetal force which seeks to defend these boundaries and hoard a professional monopoly.11 Together, these forces ensure the field’s lack of directional momentum.
”—Landscape Architecture: An Apocalyptic Manifesto (Heidi Hohmann and Joern Langhorst)
Unlike architecture, landscape architecture has yet to adopted computational design techniques. This thesis examines this gap.
It does this by questioning the mindset and toolset we use to design landscapes. It aims to reveal opportunities for how a computational design process can enhance both the understanding of our environment, and our designs upon it.
“Architecture is a dangerous profession because it is a poisonous mixture of impotence and omnipotence, in the sense that the architect almost invariably harbour megalomaniacal dreams that depend upon others, and upon circumstances, to impose and to realize those fantasies and dreams.”—Rem Koolhaas.
“The recent attention to diagrammatic form in architecture may then be seen on one level as a testimony to the resilience of modernist ideologies, aesthetics, and technologies among those architects who had never thoroughly embraced the return to the past championed by neohistoricists and new urbanists. Thus, continuing modernists celebrate the diagram in what one can only call a neomodernist return by many architects to rationalist simplicity and minimalist lucidity. Here the appeal to the diagram is both polemical and strategic. In its reduced and minimal form it dries out, so to speak, the representational excesses of postmodernism, the citational hysteria of nostalgia, and the vain attempts to cover over the inevitable effects of modern technologies, effects that modernists had attempted to face with the invention of abstract aesthetics. In its assertion of geometry as the basis for architecture, it opens the way for a thorough digitalization of the field, but in a way that overcomes the simplistic and often rigid models based on functional analysis proposed by design-methods theorists like Christopher Alexander in the early decades of computerization.”—Vidler, Anthony. “Diagrams of Diagrams: Architectural Abstraction and Modern Representation.” Representations 72 (November 6, 2007): 1–21.
By the mid-20th century, McHarg’s rational and analytical “ecological determinism” was initially used in service of a euphoric Modernist desire to improve the world. But as decision-making moved from expert- driven to discursive, landscape architecture’s 19th century perception
(and self perception) of being based largely on aesthetic concerns (of taste rather than necessity) soon threatened its existence in a value-pluralistic (and occasionally even democratic) discourse. Thus ecology as an a undisputable, scientific, and fact-based foundation became the last straw of a field trying to save itself, moving landscape interventions from the disputable to the factual. With nature and ecology as sacrosanct values, landscape architecture also thereby excused itself from a larger political and cultural discourse, a comfortable, if limiting position the profession has embraced for the past 30 years.
Yet somehow, a large part of the profession has missed out on the subtle difference between descriptive science and the normative use of its findings. Island biogeography and population ecology, habitat connectivity, patch dynamics, and more recently the general obsession with “landscape process” are now the pavers of good intention on the road to “better” landscapes. Today, just framing a natural process as part of a design can still excuse landscape architects from making potentially contestable decisions.
“An explicit and implicit computational approach to architecture underscored Christopher
Alexander’s work throughout the 1960s and 70s. He began his career wanting to use computers for architectural purposes: indeed, he was one of the only architects in the early 1960s with the mathematical expertise to program and use a computer.23 Over the next 15 years, however, the computer as a processing device would cease to occupy so central a position in his work. Instead, he applied the logic and structure of computing problems in patterns and pattern languages, a codification of a solution for a design problem that repeats in the environment (A Pattern Language).”—Wright Steenson, Molly. Artificial Intelligence, Architectural Intelligence: the Computer in Architecture, 1960–80, May 10, 2010, 4
“This is why Eisenman’s Formalist insistence upon architecture’s absolute autonomy can only be a subsidiary moment within the overall constitution of the discipline. Equally one-sided is the attempt to return to a Radical Functionalism that wishes to respond directly to socio-economic demands, without any discursive detour into the depth of an elaborated formal universe. The Formalist stance finds its partial rationality in the fact that the initial proliferation of spatial concepts and formal techniques flourishes best in the absence of overbearing functional and programmatic constraints. This is the raison d’etre of the oeuvre of Peter Eisenman and his followers. However, this stance cannot be generalized across the discipline. That would indeed be suicidal.”—Schumacher, Patrik S. The Autopoiesis of Architecture. A New Framework for Architecture. Wiley, 2011, 191.
Here is a list of pointers that I think will help the initiate avoid spending many hours learning a program or language that ultimately proves to be the wrong one.
Listen to what your closest confidants, colleagues and teachers tell you, but always look beyond them. lt is very easy for them to proselytise what they are familiar with, and teach you what they know.
Get a sense of your own aptitude. If you find the learning and practising achievable (note that only one of my 30-pluscorrespondents thought that coding skill is anything less than hard won), then consider learning a generic coding language ahead of a proprietary language tied to a particular software.
If you appear to be gifted then write your own, as has been referred to above (Processing).
Be generous- share rather than try to hide your code.
Keep an eye on the future … probably best done by considering the past a bit more closely.
Do not be slave to a technique, pre-packaged algorithms, copiable code unless working with someone else’s prior knowledge that fits your preferred approach exactly. Leave the learning mother ship as soon as possible or risk being a clone.
Most crucial of all: hone your critical judgement skills, look at what you have achieved as if you were looking into a mirror. Can you see yourself (intellect) in your work, or the uninvited contribution of anonymous others? Or, even more crucial, work out if this even matters in the 21st century.
“But my main point is that we went to all this effort in order to solve real social, environmental and technical problems where we believed a computer could significantly assist. But now that there is massive computer power and software cheaply available, most scripting has become nothing more than an onanistic self indulgence in a cozy graphics environment. Endless repetition and variation on elaborate geometrical schema with no apparent social, environmental and technical purpose whatsoever. (John Frazer)” [51-53]”—Burry, Mark, Scripting Cultures: Architectural Design and Programming, (Wiley, 2011), 50-52.
"Morphogenesis operates as a unique hybrid of diagrammatic and pictorial modes of design. It enables architecture to be imagined, represented, and constructed as both a mimetic image and an organisational system. Demonstrated most notably in parametric modelling, the juxtaposition of diagrammatic and pictorial methodologies within the digital environment has enabled a novel method of design where formal and conceptual elements are intertwined in flux. Unlike the prior paradigms of design — in which the pictorial and diagrammatic were disparate — the design process of morphogenesis is about resolving the ambiguity and tension between these two modes."
“Alberti’s On the Art of Building in Ten Books starts with Lineaments as the title of the first book. Alberti claims that ‘the whole matter of building is composed of lineaments and structure’ and defines lineaments as ‘the precise and correct outline, conceived in the mind, made up of lines and angles’. He asserts that ‘it is possible to project whole forms in the mind without any recourse to the material, by designating and determining a fixed orientation and conjunction for the various lines and angles’.22 Alberti’s distinction between form and material is constitutive for the emergence of architecture as intellectual discipline. However, a full theoretical reflection of this historical moment would have required Alberti to recognize the drawing, rather than the mind, as the proper medium within which to fix forms (lines and their angles) in advance of any material construction effort.”—Schumacher, Patrik S, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, A New Framework for Architecture (Wiley, 2011), 83.
“However, as far as the internal dynamics of the architectural autopoiesis is concerned, the completed buildings themselves are rather exceptional communicative events. Completed buildings/spaces are but one set of reference points within the overall network of architectural communications. Buildings are photographed, published, written and talked about, but in the overall flow of architectural communications the completion of a new building is a rather rare occasion, and their immediate presence within the discourse — by being directly experienced during an architectural excursion — is so rare as to be negligible.”—Schumacher, Patrik S, The Autopoiesis of Architecture, A New Framework for Architecture (Wiley, 2011), p4.