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Emergent Architectural Design

posted Oct 21, 2009, 11:15 PM by Olaf Bochmann   [ updated Oct 26, 2009, 6:08 AM ]
With special thanks to Thomas T. Jensen from sum-things we use an image that is part of a project on emergent architecture. As the name suggests, "sum-things" refers to the theory of emergence and to the application of the bottom-up approach in architectural design. Check out there website and you will find an impressive collection of designs following the principle of holism as it was first summarized by Aristotle in the famous quote: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts".
This particular project from Thomas T. Jensen and David O. Wolthers is called pravent. They designed a very basic component with a low-level property of being able to attach to other instances of the same component. This is translated into high-level properties of the resulting fractal structure, which are rotation, scaling and self-similarity. The result looks much better than the individual components. Indeed, this stunning design is the new emergent property that does not exist in the parts.
This principle is such a universal one, that we can find it everywhere and on all scales. It translates molecules into organisms, particle into matter, individuals into societies, etc. This are the systems we are studying in Complex Systems Lab in order to predict macroscopic properties or infer low-level designs. It becomes more and more important for the design of man made systems. This includes not only physical designs like architecture but also for software, control and logistic. Architecture in this context goes much beyond the design of buildings.