Why would architects write computer programs? Why would architects draw? This studio suggests one answer to both of those questions: architecture thrives within media that extend the capacity of the individual human author while simultaneously limiting, filtering or structuring the domain of inquiry. Drawing and writing computer programs–“coding” for short–require mastery of instruments, deployment of knowledge, and definition of line. As a result, coding and drawing are transformative. They can transform our ideas in the pursuit of architecture, certainly. But they can also transform architecture, thereby allowing us to cultivate ideas in the pursuit of new architecture. To begin this studio, students will design a coded line-based representational system specific to one portion of an existing built work of architecture. Lines will be taxed to perform in multiple ways. It is expected that many hundred lines of code, many thousands of lines on paper, and multiple weeks of research, experimentation and critique will be required investment for the reward of a drawing that is simultaneously pictorial, analytic, projected, formal, atmospheric, and measured. Python will be our programming language, pen plotters will be our mark-making machine, and engravings and hatched terrain relief maps will be our references. Gradually, we will wean ourselves off of the building as referent and begin to identify and refine salient features, problems, and ambiguities in the drawing. Then, we’ll work in reverse. Drawing will lead to a construct, which will be interpreted as the portion of a building, which be extended in self-evident terms into a resolved architectural proposition for a built project in the landscape. (More on the syllabus--PDF)
Using the Python programming language and the Rhinoscript Python Library, represent "the sample" you've set up using a system of lines. One method of projection should consistently link content on the paper to content in the sample. This projection method can be standard, obscure, or novel. The size of the paper will be 11”x13” in either rectilinear orientation. You may create as many functions (implementations of as many algorithms) as you determine to be necessary although the resulting lines should visibly cohere as one single system.
Rhinoceros offers a three-dimensional digital modeling environment and, relatedly, all topologies in the Rhinoscript library are three-dimensional. However, some of your scripting may occur in the space of the paper and, as a result, will be effectively two-dimensional in nature (the z value will be zero). This is one of those moments where a technical decision may have deep theoretical ramifications. The difference between a line composed in space having been subject to a projection method verses a line drawn on the paper with respect to information or variables corresponding to a spatial condition is significant. Dimensionality is also techno-theoretically linked to the topology of digital surfaces.
Refine your lines based on the material and mechanical limits of the pen plotter, ink, and paper you choose. Consider the implications and opportunities that may arise out of the clarity or lack of clarity of lines. Perhaps now is a good time to investigate, what exactly is a line? A mark? A hatch? (Read more about this assignment on the Phase One Assignement Sheet--PDF)
On 2/25/16 the web-based book Dive Into Python was mentioned and this set (.zip archive) of example Python Scripts (basics.py, standardHatch.py, standardHatchToMany.py, fillByOffset.py and lineToLineConnection.py, which is the precursor to the forthcoming "Drunken Ants" example) were discussed in class. We also discussed the structure of the .pat file format. A good description of that specification is here. Every student agreed to procure and maintain a plant on their studio desks.
On 2/29/16 we discussed two scripts in detail (drunkenAnts.py and mapPoints.py) then this example of a Grasshopper definition for a projection system was created. Finally, a short question perdiod allowed some technical issues to be addressed. This is the working file that resulted from those questions.
On 3/3/16 we began using pen plotters with these resources.
On 3/10/16 Phase One was completed. Emanuel Admassu, Aaron Forrest, Ameer Musa (Computing Drawing 2015 studio alumnus), Malcolm Rio (Computing Drawing 2014 studio alumnus), Peter Tagiuri, Yasmin Vobis, and Saba Yazdjerdi (Computing Drawing 2015 studio alumnus) joined the studio for a review.
For this phase of the project, act as though you know nothing about “the sample” you used during the first phase. Extend and continue your work as a drawing project free of any representational burdens. Restrictions on paper size are lifted. Previously, each drawing could contain only one system of lines; now, drawings may contain multiple system of lines.
Much of the discourse initiated in the first phase of the project should continue: the implications that emerge from capacity of the line to be ordered with respect to both the page and space; the challenges that emerge when deploying the capacity of lines to collectively articulate surface; and the opportunities that emerge when conventions mutate into novel linear systems that demonstrate more than they signify. With the sample removed from the equation as both source and motivation, it will be necessary to establish new goals for these drawings. Although our purpose is no longer to represent a given form, representation strategies–in terms of the potential to represent something new–will remain. Students are asked to treat each drawing as a world of interconnected elements in carefully crafted relationship to one other. This project should it not give way to sketches that are willful, casual, or impromptu. (Read more about this assignment on the Phase Two Assignement Sheet--PDF)
This sub-phase of the course is called an “intermission” not because we’re on a break, but because we’re taking a moment to step out of our drawing projects to reflect back on our work and suggest how it might be projected forward. This is an important and necessary task in our pursuit of architectural content, conditions, ideas, arguments and issues. Currently, our motivations may be heavily technical in nature. Writing is an opportunity to congeal and articulate what can be read in the drawn object when it is considered independent from the act of drawing. The drawing process, however, can’t be shelved–that’s the nature of drawing–although this assignment calls for its re-framing as a matter of theory.
Write an essay that positions your Phase Two drawing within and without the discipline of architecture... (Read the full assignment in this PDF document.)
In our writing workshop and review session we watched excepts from this lecture by Steven Pinker, in which he discussed Writing Classic Prose by Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner. Patrick Winston's "V-S-N-C" structure was also mentioned. If one Googles, "VSNC," one will not immediately find an articulation of the purpose of the "vision, steps, news, and contributions" structure, but one of Winston's students posted an excellent write-up of it here. Besides Winston's world-renowned work in the field of Artificial Intelligence, he is famous within MIT for his yearly "How to Speak" lecture. Students should reference the Chicago Manual of Style with respect to formatting and citations. Poetry. Is. Forbidden.
Based on the most recent drawing, update the sample. Then, complete the building based only on the content in the updated sample. (More on the Phase Three Assignement Sheet--PDF)
On 4/14/16 we spent a few moments reviewing python lists and introducing functions (with some bonus discussion about reciprocal functions). Two example scripts (funWithLists.py and factorial.py) were produced.
On 4/18/16 a critique was held to discuss each student's revised sample. An excerpt from that work follows.
On 5/16/16, with the final review close at hand, a surprise in-class diagramming exercise was undertaken. In contrast to the "thumbnail sketch" approach to diagramming, the goal here was analogy. Each student was assigned one index card, which was to represent the site, plus one Hello Kitty sticker, which was to represent the sample. Students were asked to appropriately situate the sticker on the card and then draw with black ink content to represent the newly designed building given this analogical scenario. The results follow.
@lostritto: closeup of @carl_jentz_zirbel’s Phase 1 drawing is a matter of scale, dimension and orientation. Here, the shapes are so small they register a points. Overlay areas represent shadow. To appreciate this fully, compare to his full size image at lostritto.com/risd2016spring. #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings @risdarch
@lostritto: Closeup of @frank_corr’s drawing, which stands out from the others for the apparent agenda of filling the void and articulating its intersection with solid #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings @risdarch (you really want to see the full size version of this on the website)
@lostritto: @evey_wy coded a system of lines that represents refraction given a surface of water. See her full size drawing at lostritto.com/risd2016spring #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings @risdarch
@lostritto: Closeup of Jeffrey Xu’s drawing from the #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings studio @risdarch. The Phase 1 drawings are making their way to lostritto.com/risd2016spring as the students submit their archival scans
@fuji_the_bird: -It’s my name in Chinese. #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings #PenPloterTestToday The more I look at it, the more I believe that the red and the blue should have switched…… #FujiSP16AdS_ 1
@s.superlatif: Pen plotted #ElLissitzky; a century of #modernism constructed in 5 minutes using a single python script and a pen plotter. What have we come to? #postpostmodernity #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings
@s.superlatif: He stood out there and thought about the way surfaces exist. No longer did they exist between two curves. Surfaces were alive and the only way to control translation was using coordinates U and V. #architectureBasedOnDrawingBuildings good bye to past notions and habits! #newyearnewme