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Buildings are complex adaptive systems
Average reader rating: 0  
by Prof Ir Kas Oosterhuis 14 the future of Architecture

1 Buildings are complex adaptive systems

1.1 The art of making building bodies
Back in the seventies and eighties of the 20th Century the art of prefabrication reached its temporary summit. Advanced office buildings were conceived like unibodies. Prefabrication is precise, fast and accurate. One must develop the important details from the very beginning of the design process. A fine example of a building body designed in the late eighties based on customized prefabrication is the BRN Catering headquarters [architects Kas Oosterhuis and Peter J Gerssen, 1987]. At first glance a simple black box. But at closer inspection it reveals its intelligence: effective in detail, smart climate control, extremely energy conscious. The design of the machinery inside refers to the motorblock. That piece of machinery is not put on top of the roof as usual but placed in the pulsating heart of the building. Usual practice for cars, but exceptional for buildings. This attitude provokes the idea of a building as a complex integrity. The building is conceived as a unibody, as an input-output device. As a structure, that is synthetically conceived as a complex whole. These synthetic buildings represent the exact opposite of the deconstructivist attitude of the early nineties. Synthetic architecture implies a careful fusion of interrelated elements, while decon architecture is best represented by a cold clash of structurally conflicting elements. During the seventies and eighties a firm basis was laid for the notion of synthetic building bodies. The synthetic attitude hardly survived the nineties but was brought back in the architectural scene in a complete new form. Digital architects were the carriers of the seed of synthesis, modelling new synthetic building bodies in their computers. The digital building body is a vectorial body, shaped by interior and exterior vectors. These vectors act as multiple forces working upon that body, from the inside out and from the outside inward. 3-dimens The building body is a well-balanced structural integrity. And that building body is a continuity, which needs a skin, both an exterior and an interior skin. Exterior skin and interior skin must be seen as one continuous crust. There is a change of climate rather than an opposition between inside and outside. Windows are warpholes where the exterior skin folds back into the interior. Doors are cuttings out of the skin. Like the mouth in the animal's head. Nothing may obstruct the continuity of the building body in the language of synthetic architecture.

To view buildings as building bodies changes the way one looks at built products. Architects no longer deal with the repetitive catalogue style of the fifties, assembling buildings from the bits and pieces following the rules of linear industrial production methods. These days mass-production is no longer the rule. Deconstructivist architecture tried to make mass-production look silly, but needed the old paradigm to criticise. In that sense the decon approach relied heavily on the subject it questioned. But nowadays mass-customization is the most viable production method. In the process of mass-customization series of unique elements are produced. Series of unique building parts, put together to form the unique unibody, the synthetic building body. Now we do not need the old paradigm anymore to revolt against, now we are building within the new paradigm of mass-customization, configuring new quality out of its own genetic driving forces. And on top of that, as we will see later, the mass-customised building body becomes a real hyperbody when it reads, carries, processes and produces a continuous information flow. Building bodies feed on information, buildings are running processes eating, digesting and reproducing information. Building bodies are input - output devices, information comes into the body in a particular form, and it leaves the body in a modified form. Building bodies keep up the flow of information. Sometimes very slow, and sometimes fast as lightning, the flow of information inside a building body never stops. The body writes information and retrieves information from its project database, and it communicates this information via scale-free networks. There can be true interaction between different building bodies and their users, when the links in the network are bi-directional. Bi-directional links are necessary to be able to establish a true interactive architecture. Designers work in a similar flow of information. They add, modify and create information during the design process. The designers must have immediate access to the dynamic project database to be able to work in a process of collaborative design. As we will see, collaborative design is an absolute prerequisite for the growth, education and social behaviour of intelligent synthetic building bodies. Collaborative design and the direct access tot the project database in real time opens up the way for an open source architecture, where also the non-expert public can contribute to. Open source architecture includes direct democracy in real time. The information flow includes and connects all stakeholders in the design process, and in the life-cycle of the realised building body.

2 Building bodies feed on information

2.1 The importance of information theory for designing building bodies

Information has the intriguing tendency to enhance its complexity. Scientists observe an universal evolution from pure energy [the supposed intitial stage of our universe] towards pure information [the supposed final stage of our universe]. Simply by performing all the operations, which they perfom daily humans contribute to that evolution. They assist in the inventions of greater complexities, they assist in the conversion of material from their raw information state into products representing a much higher state of information. People catalyse the increase of the information coëfficient of the world around us. There is an increasing awareness of the importance to build new theories on the nature of information. Some scientists [ao Stephen Hawking] speculate that all matter and energy may be described as a specific state of information. Other scientists [the late Tom Stonier] go one step further and propose the existence of infons. Infons are information particles, which are essentially different from electrons and protons. The introduction of infons opens up a new non-materialistic view on the microcosmos and the macracosmos alike. Tom Stonier illustrates his view by looking at the electronic billboards on Times Square. One experiences waves of information, but when it comes down to describing the process in the behaviour of electrons and protons the billboards do not change when the information content changes. Hence it seems that there are waves of information propagated through the system. Stonier proposes that similar waves of information flood the universe. And he states that in the evolution of the universe people are experiencing and developing [that is as seen from our arbitrary human point of view, and that's why I prefer to say that we humans are assisting in the development] ever higher complexities of information content. The art of making building bodies heavily contributes to this increase in global information content. Not only do we have more and bigger buildings [pump up the volume] but also smarter buildings with increased performance. One could measure the performance of building bodies by mapping the costs per kg. While potatoes may cost you 1 Euro per kg, building could cost up to 5 or 10 Euros per kg. Cars will cost over 20 Euros per kg, and laptops are now 500 Euro per kg. The higher the level of intelligence, the higher is the density of the information flow per kg body weight. Buildings are becoming more wired [even wireless], capital-intensive, and hence support a higher level of information flow. Buildings, which are connected in real time in a web of internal and external relations, are hyperbodies. To understand the nature of a hyperbody one must focus one the different aspects of the information flow through a building body. The building body processes information in a running process. As we will see later, a hyperbody is a pro-active building body, actively reconfiguring itself and proposing changes without specific requests from their human users.

2.2 The building acts as a running process
Your human body hears, sees, smells, feels, tastes, your body process the information in its brains and other organs. The processing of the information leads to the production of images and sounds, and you put other processed matter into the world. People are metabolists by nature. Information is always subject to a continuous process of transformation. In that process there are many moments that the information travels from one processing unit towards the other. Information may be sent through wires, or may be carried by a vehicle. People are such datacarriers. Imagine a somewhat more complex situation where you find yourself in daily life. When you drive a car, the car carries information in the form of the luggage and in the form of yourself as the driver. At the same time the driver of the car carries both the information that [s]he embodies as well as the information that [s]he processes in real time. The information produced during the process of driving a car consists of signals sent out by the car to other vehicles: speed, direction, indicator, backlights, headlamps, sound of the claxon. The information carried may be uploaded or downloaded upon arrival. Information just keeps flowing and traveling. Information never stops to be processed.

It is productive to imagine buildings and other products as running processes in real time. And humans are part of that process. They trigger things, they catalyse, they give direction to processes, they open doors, they close windows. They are the switches themselves. Now if one applies this notion of information processing to buildings and architecture, then think of buildings, which are subsequently absorbing information, processing information and producing new information. None of these building bodies are isolated processing machines under any circumstance. They are all connected through the information flow. Connected to each other in the city, connected to the world through the Internet, connected to the users through the user's interfaces. The light switches, the doors, the windows, the computers, the television set, the seats, the stairs, basically everything, which the user touches, is continuously displaced, changed and transformed. All processes run by buildings, products and users together play a key evolutionary role in the worldwide process of the formation and transformation of information. As we will see now, buildings are not only connected in a world wide web [we are not talking about the World Wide Web yet] of information flow, they actively change the nature of the information, which is flowing through their bodies.

2.3 The building is an input - output device
Buildings are input-output constructs. Living organisms, industrial products, and digital machines alike are input-output machines. You are like that, every single household appliance is like that, a computer is like that, all buildings are like that. There is always some mass of material or information that is eaten, absorbed, infused or downloaded by any of these information-processing machines. And all of these machines change the nature of the stuff that went into their bodies. A gas that enters a car is expelled as heat and carbondioxide. Water that enters a building may be used by the installation for flushing the toilets, or may be consumed by the inhabitants. People entering buildings are changed too. No one leaves a building as the same person that entered the building. Think of what has really happened between that moment of entering a building and leaving it. How do people exchange information with our environments? What does one actually process? The heat from radiators enters our human bodies, artificial light is processed by our eyes and brain, people leave traces of their skin when touching a light switch. People hear [input], people think [process] and people speak [output]. That is transformation of information from person to person, taking place inside a building body. Exactly the same way that in common language we speak of cars driving to a certain destination [instead of people driving cars by programming it to go somewhere], we can speak of buildings processing information. Buildings feed on humans to process the information. This makes it undesrtandable that the nature of the information, which enters the building body, is subject to a continuous change. It is converted in real time into other states of information, mostly into lower forms of information when it is simply consumed. But intentionally by constructive effort [although unprobable according to the second law of thermodynamics] it is converted into higher forms of information as well. New things are put together, surprising new combinations are made, inventive new brainwaves come out of the transaction process. The designer of the 21st century is hyperconscious of the fact all architectural places are basically transaction spaces. [S]he knows the information flow, and [s]he gives shape to it. The designer is a stylist of all the flux through the building body. However the modern designer is more than that. [S]he also gives shape to all the flux of the physical building body itself. The designer shapes that building body that eventually will change shape and content in real time. To understand the position of the designer working inside the flow of informatio, we must dive deeper in the way the designer connects to the dynamic data representing the project through his/her computer. As you will find out next, the designer-computer combination performs like an idiot savant.

2.4 Information flow
Picture the flow of data flowing towards the idiot savant. Paraphrasing the native Hungarian American psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi [Flow, xxx] the idiot savants must be in flow when establishing the hotline between their brains and their output devices [mouth to speech, hands to paintbrush]. People in flow are happy people. Because there is no barrier between their brains and their body. They experience their own body and brains as one unity, as one undivided unibody, without having doubt about the rightness of things.

How does this concept of flow apply to architects? These days the modern designer uses animation and game programmes [Maya, Virtools] to bring the projects into a state of flow. They set up processes in the design phase as to generate geometries and behaviours. Psychologically the state of flow is something that has no boundaries in time. One would want it to go on forever. And idiot savants can do that. They keep memorizing the data, without hesitation, endlessly. Once the drain is established, once the shortcut is made, they just have to let go. And how difficult it is to stop. And how subversive of the architect to freeze the flow and stop the process. The often heard excuse is that buildings need to stand, that they need to be built solid as a rock. Architecture is seen by traditonal architects, who are not familiar with the new paradigm of time-based architecture, as the art of making static objects. Suppose that this is no longer the case. Suppose society is heading for an architecture that is basically dynamic. Suppose architects are designing for the era of time-based architecture. Then you would not want to stop the flow. You would let go. You would want to be a hyperconscious idiot savant, connecting directly to your project databases in real time. And you would find ways to continue the process into the life of the constructs themselves. You would run the process of a programmable architecture. Hyperconscious designers will assist in the making of dynamic hyperbodies rather than static building bodies. Once you are aware of the fact that you work in that developing flow of information and that you connect to the data like an idiot savant, you will not be satisfied to propose static buildings anymore. Naturally you want to synchronize the way you work with the things you make.

2.5 Designers and buildings alike must have direct access to the project data
Direct access seems to be equivalent to the list function in programmes like Autocad. It is an open tunnel to a tabel containing all registered data. In human brains these data come in through the eye, the ear, the nose. Everything is recorded somehow and somewhere, but normally we can remember only a fraction of it. This is because we filter these data in order to be able to behave socially [and to be succesful as a species]. It would be very inconvenient if we could literally reproduce everything, which was stored in our brains. Reproducing the data would take a lot of time [James Bond "you only live twice"] and we would not have time left to interact socially, we would not be able to form a society. Have you ever seen those piles of paper, which the computer produces when listing a complex calculation? You do not want to read this, you may have a look at it to scan inconsistencies, but not for actual reading or understanding. Having direct access to the project database is blocked for social reasons. The shells around the database form the interface between database and environment. So is the case with computers. The operating systems, the computerprogrammes form shells around the project data, to make it possible for us humans to communicate with these data. To make it possible for us to give meaning to the data, to make interpretations, to propose changes, to produce new data and to have them sent back to the database. These shells represent our social transaction space. Designers must have direct access, but they must not be confronted with the stream of data all the time. There must be a filter between them to be able to actually work in the flow of information. Building those filters is the art of building the interface. Computerprogrammes are interfaces between your body and the data. Computers are the instruments, which allow the programmes to be played. In the same way physical spaces inside buildings and cities are the interfaces between your body and society at large. The buildings themselves are the instruments, which allow the game of life to be played.

3 The building is a node in a world wide web

3.1 The scale-free networks of buildings

Consider the information flow in a house. You will quickly find out that some parts of the house are tunneling more information than other parts. For example the door frequently lets people in and out. People are the vehicles for carrying information. People interact with many knobs and switches in the house. They transmit information to various parts of the building. There are also tunnels of information not carried by people. Like the water and gas supplies, the electricity and the data lines. Just like the people's entrance these information tunnels are hubs in the building network. A network featuring nodes with many more connections than other nodes is known as a scale-free network [Barabási, Linked 2002]. Scale-free networks are the dominant form of networks in our society. Biologic food-chains are scale-free networks, but also is the Internet, your brain, the cell, the car, the aviation network, the network of relationships of any group of people. They all have a large number of nodes with only some links to other nodes, and just a few powernodes with many links, the hubs. Google is a large hub on the Internet. The door in your house is a big hub in your house. The door facilitates many connections. And so is your ADSL connection, from where you can connect to billions of IP adresses. Essential to the architecture of the hyperbody is that it is a scale-free network. In the hyperbody building all buildings elements are potential senders and receivers, and they are all connected to each other, preferably wireless. You might map the relations between the nodes in your house, and you might label the hubs. The hubs are the great communicators of the house. But they could not function without the large number of other nodes, which are relatively deprived from communication. Some of these nodes may find themselves confined to the very boundaries of the network, and be linked to only one or two other nodes. Your house is a complex transaction space, an delicate instrument to be played by you and your family and friends, giving you a place in the world, allowing you to connect to the world wide web of physical and mental relations.

3.2 Hyperbodies and e-motive qualifiers
Another equally important aspect of networks is the direction of the links. Are the links one-way streets like the links from one webpage to the other? Are the links bi-directional, like in the aviation network? You can always take the plane back to the place where you came from. But very often there is no link back from the webpage to the page where you came from. Which makes the Web a directed network. In your house some networks are directional, like the water supply and drainage system, other networks feature in principle two-way connections like the electricity network. It does not happen often yet, but you can deliver electricity back to your power supplier. You can do so if you produce electricty from photovoltaic cells while you do not store the power in a local battery but deliver it to the community network. The house is a node in a scale-free network of smaller and bigger powersuppliers. Scale-free networks are the most robust forms of networks known in both old [carbon-based] and new [digital] nature. The door in the house is a hub, which links in two directions also. You can come in and you can go out. But now look at the hyperbody as the actual real time evolution of the house. In the hyperbody house there are many nodes implanted in the skins and the structures of the house. These nodes are linked to each other [microwave talks to refrigerator talks to vacuumcleaner talks to user talks to car talks to garagedoor], to the users of the house, probably through wireless sensors and gsm/gps cellphones, and to the exterior worlds [refrigerator talks to grocery store]. Some of these embedded microchips are poorly linked nodes, they have only a few links. They operate in the periphery of the network. Intensively used nodes can be seen as the hubs of the hyperbody, they attract many links. When one of these nodes starts attracting and establishing more links, it will be even more attractive than ever and will atract even more links. Eventually the winner takes it all. These succesful hubs are the preferred attachments of the hyperbody. The open pipeline to the Internet community sure is one of these hubs. As demonstrated by the Hyperbody Research Group at the Delft University of Technology the e-motive qualifier [executable programme embedded in the transaction space] is a good candidate for being another attractive hub. The e-motive qualifier is the superlinked node that receives and sends signals from and to both people and embedded devices. The e-motive qualifier monitors and builds the emotions of the hyperbody [or parts of the hyperbody]. It builds its state of mind. The e-motive qualifier processes the pro-activity of the hyperbody. It produces the apparent free will, living proof of the unique identity of that particular hyperbody.

4 Reality and hyperreality

4.1 The architect must build prototypes
How can you deliberately design tools for the process of collaborative design, knowing that people have unspecified but very strong opinions about what is good and bad? How can you communicate with the other stakeholders when you cling to your preoccupations? The answer is that you need your intuitive opinions to be able to communicate anyway. The essence of communication is that we say things that are not scientifically weighed but spontanuous and intuitive. In the collaborative design process the project and other stakeholders test your hunch. They sort of run a script checking the incoming data on resonance with their own experience. Some scripts might give counter-intuitive values back as a reply to the hunch. Basically saying: "Is that what you think? I think it is like this". Michael Schrage [Serious Play, 2000] says that the prototype drives the process. You may imagine the prototype as a complex set of hunches, well integrated together as a working prototyped building block, but still a hunch. Schrage argues that the value is created in the shared space. If the prototype idea is succesfull it will attract attention, it will act as a magnetic field. In the feedback trial and error process of making statements and the testing of it in real time in the shared space the prototype either lives or dies. If succesful the design process proceeds on the intuitively chosen path. In the shared space of the collaborative design process each idea, in the form of a valuable package of information, is a mini-prototype, a hunch. Again according to Schrage, the issue is not just being creative individuals, but building creative relationships. Ideas triggering a lot of attention are the hubs in the design process. They are the winners, they are cashing all the hits. The heart of the group design room is the building in real time of hyperreal prototypes, and the on-line and on-site testing of them in the swarm of flocking stakeholders. Not much experience has been monitored yet with this ultimate real time form of interaction design. In the Protospace project of the Hyperbody Research Group at the Delft University of Technology prototype-tools for the collaborative design process are now being conceptualized, built and tested. Building working prototypes is an essential task if one wants to contribute to the evolutionary trial-and error development of pro-active hyperbodies.

4.2 Programmable architecture opens the road to direct democracy
In the end the concept of interactive gaming technology for collaborative design and engineering constitutes a powerful tool for direct democracy. Now the designers can directly connect to the people they work for and they work with. Not only experts are participators in the process of direct democracy, but especially also the clients, citizens, friends, accidental users, passengers. Everyone becomes a player in the transaction space, either consciously as a dedicated participator in the design process, or subconsciously as a passenger whose presence matters for the real time behaviour of the transaction space. Think of the infamous fly, that changed the course of history by virtue of its irritating presence only. Trivial details may change the information flow of the design process dramatically. Seemingly trivial details may change the public opinion about politics and politicians. Scientifically trivial details may be of decisive influence on the outcome of the processing of the information input by the stakeholders into the collaborative design process. In the realized Saltwaterpavilion for the first time in history the concept of the e-motive factor of the building was introduced. The incoming data were interpreted > processed > weighed by a script crunching the incoming data into midi-signals ruling the dynamic lights and sounds in realtime. The visitors experienced the outcome of the script as an emotive state of the building. In the collaborative design process there must be an open channel for incoming raw data from the world around the group design room. These raw data may come from people [citizens] making choices on a website, which is directly linked to the shared space of the group design room. The designers in the design room will experience immediately what the effects of their choice mean for the design they are working on. Suppose one works on a complex city project where one single designer has no chance whatsoever to find the key to the solution. In these very realistic cases actual information keeps creeping in and never stops influencing the outcome of the decisions of the designers and politicians. The group design room builds an open channel to society, constituting a bi-directional information hub in the scale-free network of the design process. Citizens become real time participators in the design game. Think of a continuous voting system allowing the citizens to influence the polls in realtime and hence influence the politics and the politicians in an election race. The important question here remains: who designs the e-motive filters interpreting the values produced by the continuous voting system? Who creates the formulas, whichfor the citizens provide their parameters? Has the citizen influence on the very formula itself? Yes they could and must have influence, since they are part of a complex adaptive system. In the complex adaptive system the formulas evolve. The rules of the game evolve with the changes in the values of the incoming data. The opinions of the citizens subsequently co-evolve, together with the prototyped tools built by the designers and together with the responses of the surrounding world testing the prototypes. Now we have found that designers are not isolated idiot savants connecting to the project databases, but that they are super-connected via a process of collaborative design as well. They are connected to all possible stakeholders, who take part in the process of feeding the project with data to build its evolutionary path in the world.

4.3 Architecture is the powerful art of building in the information economy
Murray Gell-Mann [The Quark and the Jaguar] convinces us that the common feature of complex adaptive systems [financial markets, animals, solar system, bacterias] is that they acquire information about their environment and their own interaction with that environment. They are identifying regularities in that information, condensing those regularities into a kind of schema or model, and acting in the real world on the basis of that schema. Now consider democracy as a complex adaptive system. Consider the group design room as a complex adaptive system. Consider the colloborative design process as a complex adaptive system. Then you can start discussing the role of architecture in the information economy. Informed architecture in the network economy. Consider the modern architect as an information architect. Trained to sculpt streaming data, trained to allow the intuition to have influence on the logic. Trained to build prototypes for testing them in the real world, trained to build interactive tools for direct democracy. Trained to act in the shared space of a group design room. Trained to construct an interactive e-motive architecture in realtime to adapt to the parallel worlds around and the worlds within. That architect is prepared to act in the networked information economy of the 21st century.

5 The proof of the pudding

5.1 Building the Web of North-Holland
Building the body of the Web of North-Holland illustrates the position of the information architect as the idiot savant in the file to factory production process. In the file to factory process ONL establishes a hot link between the design-machine and the production-machine. File to factory builds upon machine to machine communication. Reading the lists of elements extracted from the 3d model of the designer is a skill similar to what the idiot savant does when reproducing all the names and numbers from the telephonebook from A to Z.

Describing how ONL made the WEB helps effectively in understanding the nature of a building body. The WEB is a spaceship. The WEB building body made a successful soft landing on the Floriade World Exhibition site in the Haarlemmermeerpolder in the Netherlands. The WEB is designed in the weightless space of the computer. First in the execution phase ONL unleashed gravity as an active force working upon the 3d model. ONL has sculpted the 3d model, sculpting the data of the kneadable substance [digital clay]. A variety of techniques have been used: output using the milling machine, input with the 3d digitizer, modelling with a digital surface-sculpting tool. To start with the first draft is sketched in a 3D Modelling program. Then the model is milled from a block of foam and the resulting physical model adjusted using convential tools like sandpaper. The curves of this model are picked up with the 3d digitizer and brought back into the computer. From there the double curved surface is refined fixing the sharp folds fading out into the rounded corners using the sculpt-surface tool [Maya]. The final surface forms the basis for the geometical definition of the constructive elements.

Started from the chosen sixfrequent icosahedron grid, ONL has invented a complete new constructive principle: a 3d triangular grid of flat and folded steel plates connecting the weighed normals [lines perpendicular to the surface of the NURBS model]. ONL realized the hotline between the digital 3d model and the steel manufacturer Meijers Staalbouw. ONL wrote in-house an Autolisp routine [Autocad based list- processing language] which lifts the elements from the 3d model, places them on a reference plane, flattens them and attaches the relevant data. Buckling points and angular rotations are administrated in a table [database]. All elements are unique in shape and thickness. It is important to apply a transparent coding system for production and assembly purposes. In this process the 2d drawing plays no role. It is a file to factory process where the digital 3d model of the designer communicates directly with the programmable cutting machines of the steel manufacturer.

The innovative steel construction can follow in principle each possible blob shape. In this respect the ONL invention is of generic value for the whole building industry. The clue is to turn the exception into the norm. Providing solutions for mass-customization, and responding to forces in today society commanding individualisation of the production process. The WEB has been assembled as a whole in the workshop of Meijers Staalbouw. Then within 3 weeks it has been taken apart, coated, transported and assembled on the site.

The architecture of ONL has a history of minimizing the amount of different joints for constructive elements. Fifteen years ago this attitude led to minimalist buildings like the Zwolsche Algemeene and BRN Catering. At the beginning of the nineties it was realized that in the end extreme minimalizing of the architectural language is a dead end street. Hence in the office a new approach towards detailing was developed: parametric design for the construction details and for the cladding details. Basically this means that there is one principal detail, and that detail appears in a multitude of different angles, dimensions and thicknesses. The parametric detail is scripted like a formula, while the parameters change from one position to the other. No detail has similar parameters, but they build upon the same formula. It is fair to say that the WEB is one building with one detail. Mies is too much. This single detail is designed to suit all different faces of the building. Roof, floor and façade are treated the same. Front and back, left and right are treated equally. There is no behind, all sides are up front. In this sense parametrically based architecture displays a huge correspondence to the design of industrial objects. Parametric architecture shares this kind of integrity.

A similar Autolisp procedure has been developed for the production of the triangular ultralight Hylite aluminum panels. No triangle is the same, there is no repetition. Another routine took the panels from the 3d model and flattened them, and cut them from the flat Hylite panels by the computercontrolled waterjet cutting machine. The resulting soft-edged triangular panels are folded over the curved exterior contours of the steel construction. V-shaped placeholders bridge the distance and match the rotation angles between the robust folded steel plates and the paperthin exterior Hylite skin. Hylite is a new composite material of The Corus Group, which has been sponsored in natura. Hylite is composed of a polypropylene core between two ultrathin layers of aluminum, totaling a mere 2mm. Hylite is very elastic and is capable of absorbing internal forces in the surface. These material characteristics have formed the basis of the ONL design for the robust construction in relation to the delicate skin. In the assemblage procedure the midpoints of the 3 legs of the triangle are fastened first, and then the 3 corners have been unfolded. Somewhere in the undefined midfield of the triangles the sheet is dealing with the forces. The distortions vary from convex to concave, from gentle to wild curvature.

A special mention deserves the bold winged doors, pivoting up by means of hydraulic cylinders. The winged doors are a bold straightforward cut out of the body of the WEB spaceship. When the doors are closed, there can be seen no difference between the body and the doors.

Thanks to the invention of the folded 3d triangular grid of the steel construction and thanks to the elastic properties of the Hylite aluminum sheets ONL has been able to realize a body building which convinces as a spaceship. After functioning as a host for the interactive Noord-Holland propaganda the pavilion will be dismantled and reassembled in Delft. It will be prepared for its second life on a prominent location at the campus of the Delft University of Technology where it will function as the interactive design laboratory Protospace for the Faculty of Architecture.

5.2 The fully programmable construct trans-ports
While the WEB is exemplary for the nature of a building body, the project Trans-ports illustrates the concept of the hyperbody. From file to factory production to programmable architecture means a giant evolutionary leap. It implies that the dynamics of design, which are so appealing in the design phase and which are so effective in the file to factory production process, are extended into the very life of the construct. A programmable building is alive, it performs real time behaviour and eventually develops its behaviour during its life-cycle.

Hyperarchitecture produces data flow in real time, it shapes the flow of three-dimensional movements of the users in real time, organises the flow of matter in real time, and maps the communication from product to product, from product to user, and from user to user in real time. Active programmable architecture based on real time calculation techniques characterizes the immediate future of the profession of architecture and of the building industry. Matter and products become aware of themselves and their users, developing into the building bricks for a full interactive communication process.

The choreographic movement of cars on tarmac unfolds on an almost flat surface. The process is performed in a two-dimensional flatland world. Cars move beside one another, in front of and behind, but except in accidents or fly-overs, not on top of or beneath each other. Other types of swarms, the flocking of birds for example, exist in a more three-dimensional world. Here the bodies of the birds become the particles of sort of gaseous state of the swarm. The complexity of the rules for the form-giving processes reaches higher levels due to the three-dimensional world in which the process is performed. However, the process itself is less complex because the individual birds are much alike. The compiling material bodies are more homogenous, behave more synchronously, and the environmental circumstances are less imposing. The birds fly freely in three-dimensional space, kneaded together by the changing circumstances of the weather, and subjected to the same gravitational forces. The simulation of flocking behaviour is a beloved subject for fledgling computerprogrammers. The equations are relatively simple and the graphic representation easy to build.

Imagine a building body that is data-driven, an active participant in a distributed network. What would such a building look like? How will it be experienced by its users? How will the users interact with the building? How will they communicate with it, and for what purpose? Why would we want to have an architecture, which behaves in real time anyway? These are the kinds of questions generated by the presentation of our concept for the programmable building Trans-ports. Trans-ports is a data-driven multimedia pavilion which can move like a bundle of muscles. Trans-ports is directed and its conduct is adjusted through a globally accessible webbased game. The playing of the Internet game, and the playing of the interactive pavilion-instrument itself, produces data in real time, which change the shape and the content of both the physical pavilion and the virtual presence on the web. The active building structure reacts to impulses from the Trans-ports website. In contrast with traditional buildings, Trans-ports is not a static structure calculated to resist the maximum possible forces working upon it. This active structure is an entirely flexible construction which relaxes when forces are modest, and withstands when forces are strong [earthquakes, strong winds, or dynamic loading]. The programmable muscles of Trans-ports respond with structural strength only when needed.

The construction of this active structure demands a completely new approach in structural engineering. Hydraulic computer-controlled cylinders are connected by spherical joints and form an active spaceframe: the unibody of the pavilion. In a continuous flow, the individual cylinders shorten or extend to form new configurations. The cylinders must co-operate in order to perform the changes in the overall shape, just like the filaments of the muscular bundle co-operate to execute muscular movements. The flexible spaceframe is controlled by a computerprogramme that calculates in real time the changes in form and sends fresh instructions to the individual pneumatic cylinders. The spaceframe of the Trans-ports body can relax, it can be flexible, supple and bendable, but it will resist extreme forces becoming as hard and strong as any permanent construction. If no action is desired, the active structure can be programmed not to move at all: the zero state of its continuous formation process. A fully operational prototype of a programmable structure is now being made for the Non Standard Architectures exhibition in the Centre Pompidou in Paris [opening the 10th of December 2003]. The prototype called MUSCLE changes its shape in real time, driven by the Virtools game software connected to 72 programmable muscles, functioning as a constructive mesh wrapped around the inflated volume. The pressure inside the inflatable and the tension in the pressurized Festo tensile muscles are working together to erect the programmable structure. Sensors placed on each node of the constructive mesh facilitate the interaction with the public.

6 Programmable architecture is the new paradigm for the first decade of the 21st century
All building products may be regarded as free particles trained by the architect and assembled together as a swarm of information-rich material. Each clustering of materials builds up its own character, exactly like the flocking cars in a traffic jam. The character of the cluster of materials is different of the character of the constituent parts. The programmable swarm of building particles represents a new level of organisation, based on a critical mass of individual parts. Thousands of clusters may become organised to form yet another level. It is extremely instructive to view the building process in a accelerated time-lapse recording. The building site is like a magnet, attracting free particles from far away and the particles give the impression of being beamed towards the site.

A complete new paradigm for architecture is constructed here: architecture can no longer be solid as a rock, architecture can no longer be regarded as a static endproduct. Materials become programmable, materials become unpredictable as the weather. Materials start to behave as a swarm of birds continuously calculating their positions in relation to the others and continuously adjusting their courses accordingly. Architecture will be the art of building and navigating through data-driven constructs, atmospheres and materials. And this will dramatically change one's perception of buildings and of environments in general.

Prof Ir Kas Oosterhuis
Director Hyperbody Research Group,
Delft University of Technology
The Netherlands
www.hyperbody.nl

ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]
Essenburgsingel 94c
3044 EG Rotterdam
The Netherlands
www.oosterhuis.nl



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