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A natural model for architecture : the nature of the evolutionary model 1995

Frazer, John H. (2002) A natural model for architecture : the nature of the evolutionary model 1995. In Spiller, Neil (Ed.) Cyber reader : critical writings for the digital era. Phaidon Press Limited, United Kingdom, London, pp. 246-255.

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Abstract

John Frazer's architectural work is inspired by living and generative processes. Both evolutionary and revolutionary, it explores informatin ecologies and the dynamics of the spaces between objects. Fuelled by an interest in the cybernetic work of Gordon Pask and Norbert Wiener, and the possibilities of the computer and the "new science" it has facilitated, Frazer and his team of collaborators have conducted a series of experiments that utilize genetic algorithms, cellular automata, emergent behaviour, complexity and feedback loops to create a truly dynamic architecture. Frazer studied at the Architectural Association (AA) in London from 1963 to 1969, and later became unit master of Diploma Unit 11 there. He was subsequently Director of Computer-Aided Design at the University of Ulter - a post he held while writing An Evolutionary Architecture in 1995 - and a lecturer at the University of Cambridge. In 1983 he co-founded Autographics Software Ltd, which pioneered microprocessor graphics. Frazer was awarded a person chair at the University of Ulster in 1984. In Frazer's hands, architecture becomes machine-readable, formally open-ended and responsive. His work as computer consultant to Cedric Price's Generator Project of 1976 (see P84)led to the development of a series of tools and processes; these have resulted in projects such as the Calbuild Kit (1985) and the Universal Constructor (1990). These subsequent computer-orientated architectural machines are makers of architectural form beyond the full control of the architect-programmer. Frazer makes much reference to the multi-celled relationships found in nature, and their ongoing morphosis in response to continually changing contextual criteria. He defines the elements that describe his evolutionary architectural model thus: "A genetic code script, rules for the development of the code, mapping of the code to a virtual model, the nature of the environment for the development of the model and, most importantly, the criteria for selection. In setting out these parameters for designing evolutionary architectures, Frazer goes beyond the usual notions of architectural beauty and aesthetics. Nevertheless his work is not without an aesthetic: some pieces are a frenzy of mad wire, while others have a modularity that is reminiscent of biological form. Algorithms form the basis of Frazer's designs. These algorithms determine a variety of formal results dependent on the nature of the information they are given. His work, therefore, is always dynamic, always evolving and always different. Designing with algorithms is also critical to other architects featured in this book, such as Marcos Novak (see p150). Frazer has made an unparalleled contribution to defining architectural possibilities for the twenty-first century, and remains an inspiration to architects seeking to create responsive environments. Architects were initially slow to pick up on the opportunities that the computer provides. These opportunities are both representational and spatial: computers can help architects draw buildings and, more importantly, they can help architects create varied spaces, both virtual and actual. Frazer's work was groundbreaking in this respect, and well before its time.

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ID Code: 25904
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: Evolutionary design
ISBN: 0714840718
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Digital and Interaction Design (120304)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Architectural Design (120101)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 Phaidon Press Limited
Deposited On: 24 Jun 2009 11:39
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2013 15:04

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