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Emergent Processes: a biological instrument for design

Part 1 Dissertation 2008
Adam Holloway
Oxford Brookes University Oxford | UK
Through a study of the relationship between biology and design, and computation and biology this dissertation will explore the importance of computation in an organic design process, as an instrument with “aspirations toward biological movement and intelligence,”
One of the major concerns of architecture in this century is the effect that humanity is having upon the natural world around it. In response to this, architecture as a profession has started to take up a more ecological approach to design, to think about the built environment as a part of a wider, living ecology. The awareness of our own place as a part of a wider system compels us to take account of architecture in light of its relationship to the natural world.
Biomimetics is a field of engineering and science that explores the relationship between nature and technology and actively works to bring from nature working solutions to design problems; by bringing models of design closer to models of nature an increase in efficiency and functionality can be achieved equal to that produced by millennia of evolutionary pressure and process.
Within Architecture there is a slightly different goal, however, and this is an area that this dissertation will explore. Typically in architecture natural forms have more often than not manifested themselves as little more than decoration or inspiration. Where the natural forms are used as models for the design process itself, however, they become of more interest, aiding the architect as generative forms or as parts of the ‘shape grammar’. These templates are used not only to provide certain starting points from which the form of the design can develop, but are also used to keep the design within certain conceptual parameters.
In the same way that a logarithmic spiral, a fractal, or a human figure could be laid out across the plan of a building to generate an architectural form responsive to a particular conceptual geometry, so too could a ‘living’ instrument be conducive to a more organic architecture and to a more holistic engagement with the process of design and the complexity of the living world.

Adam Holloway

Mr Toby Shew
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