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Computer utterances: Sequence and event in digital architecture
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture, Urban Design.
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Architectural Computing, ISSN 1478-0771 Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Barely a month before the end of World War II, a technical report begun circulating among allied scientists: the ‘First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC’, attributed to John von Neumann, described for the first time the design and implementation of the earliest stored-program computer. The ‘First Draft’ became the template followed by subsequent British and American computers, establishing the standard characteristics of most computing machines to date. This article looks at how the material and design choices described in this report influenced architecture, as it set up the technological matrix onto which a discipline relying on a tradition of drawn geometry would be eventually completely remediated. It consists of two parts: first, a theoretical section, analysing the repercussions for architecture of the type of computer laid out in the ‘First Draft’. Second, a description of a design experiment, a sort of information furniture, that tests and exemplifies some of the observations from the first section. This experiment examines the possibilities of an architecture that, moving beyond geometric representations, uses instead the programming of events as its rationale. The structure of this article reflects a methodology in which theoretical formulation and design experiments proceed in parallel. The theoretical investigation proposes concepts that can be tested and refined through design and conversely design work determines and encourages technical, critical and historical research. This relation is dialogical: theoretical investigation is not simply a rationalisation and explanation of earlier design work; inversely, the role of design is not just to illustrate previously formulated concepts. Both design and theorisation are interdependent but autonomous in their parallel development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2017.
Keywords [en]
Stored-program, Turing machine, Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer, inscription/incorporation, geometry, sequence, event, information furniture, tangible interface, calm technology
National Category
Architecture
Research subject
Architecture; History of Science, Technology and Environment; Art, Technology and Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-218178DOI: 10.1177/1478077117734661OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-218178DiVA, id: diva2:1159940
Projects
Architecture in the Making, Forms as events: the spells of control flow.COMPEIT
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework ProgrammeSwedish Research Council Formas
Note

QC 20171127

Available from: 2017-11-24 Created: 2017-11-24 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Program Matters: From Drawing to Code
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Program Matters: From Drawing to Code
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Whether on paper, on site or mediating between both, means for reading and writing geometry have been central to architecture: the use of compasses and rulers, strings, pins, stakes or plumb-lines enabled the analysis and reproduction of congruent figures on different surfaces since antiquity, and from the renaissance onwards, the consistent planar representation of three-dimensional shapes by means of projective geometry. Tacitly through practice, or explicitly encoded in classical geometry, the operational syntaxes of drawing instruments, real or imaginary, have determined the geometric literacies regulating the production and instruction of architecture. But making marks on the surfaces of paper, stone or the ground has recently given way to the fundamentally different sequential operations of computers as the material basis of architectural inscription. Practices which have dominated architecture since antiquity make little sense in its current reading and writing systems. 

This thesis examines technologies of digital inscription in a search for literacies equivalent to those of drawn geometry. It particularly looks at programming as a form of notation in close correspondence with its material basis as a technology, and its effects on architecture. It includes prototypes and experiments, graphics, algorithms and software, together with their descriptions and theoretical analyses. While the artefacts and texts respond to the different forms, styles, interests and objectives specific to the fields and contexts in which they have originated, their fundamental purpose is always to critique and propose ways of writing and reading architecture through programming, the rationale of the research and practice they stem from. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2017. p. 102
Series
TRITA-ARK. Akademisk avhandling, ISSN 1402-7461 ; 2017:4
Keywords
program, algorithm, code, drawing, geometry, notation, score, literacy, writing systems, diagram, formalism, sequence, cybernetics, materiality, research programme, archeological, archive, discourse analysis, practice-based, artefact, bricolage
National Category
Architecture
Research subject
Architecture
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-218462 (URN)978-91-7729-586-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-01-12, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilSwedish Research Council FormasEU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme
Note

QC 20171129

Available from: 2017-11-29 Created: 2017-11-28 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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