Leadership Profile @ Young Architects Forum 1

Leadership Profile @ Young Architects Forum

2016  Jeff Pastva, AIA, Young Architects Forum, June 2016

Neri Oxman: Leadership Profile in the Young Architects Forum

We live at a time where technologies are, in some way, altering every facet of our human existence -- we see it in our app-enabled, on-demand and shared economies, and we see it in the compression of product-to-market through rapid prototyping that has prompted a global entrepreneurial spirit. Your own research and practice benefits from the combination of computational design, additive manufacturing, material science and synthetic biology.  Whether you believe your practice to be an exception or the future rule, how do you see the profession of architecture – our relationship to contractors, developers, clients, etc – being altered by virtue of these new tools, processes, and technologies?

The future rule in present time was once, too, an exception. At the Media Lab we treat the future as present and the present as past; Group heads are practically seers with an ideology and a strong sense of calling with regards to what it means to be human, and to the built environment. Due to recent advancements in new digital fabrication technologies, the scales of synthesis (building) are approaching the already micro scales of analysis (mapping). ‘Writing’ the world is becoming as granular as ‘reading’ it. Consider, for example, the ease with which one can transition from an MRI scan to a 3D print in the design of a prosthetic device (with, by the way, 20 times the print resolution of the scan!); or, consider an onsite robotic arm that can incorporate thermal gradients and heat maps into the construction process by varying, for instance, the density of concrete or gradually reducing its thickness / opacity as a function of anticipated structural load. One may say that we are shifting from building information modeling to design information modeling, as we can share - across scales, disciplines and media - explicit codes or protocols relating not only to the products we create and the buildings we construct, but also to the processes we implement in order to build them. This transition, from a product-based ecology of relationships, to a process-based network, enables more effective communication between the various participants within the practice. It is because of this shift, that know-how and skill-sets created today can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries. They are entirely entangled. The marriage of sensor technologies with GPS platforms is not only enabling smarter - even “living” – buildings, but they are providing us with a constant influx of user data. At the scale of a biologically-inspired building, this data could trigger the dilation of the exterior wall pores to ventilate, enhance daylight, reduce glare or conceal against exposures. How do you think we can take advantage of “big data” – the confluence of all inputs – to better control our built environments for the collective benefit of our communities? Read the full article here.

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