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University of Pennsylvania

  • Science, Architecture, Form, Space

    Two questions first:

    1. In the worlds of Physics and Architecture: If solid matter is to form as gas is to space, then what is liquid in architecture?

    2. If social science is considered a mushy science and physics exact science than where does architecture fall? and can architects or will architects ever be considered scientists?

    I say this because I am spending more time in the Math/Physics library at Penn than the fine arts. It also seems if I want to go deep intellectually in architecture I have to look elsewhere, just think about the whole deconstruction phase of architecture, it was all french philosophy and situationism...architects borrow soooo much from other sciences and here is my explanation why.

    Form and Space are dead. (I am emulating Nietzsche here)

    Forms and Algorithms is a pre-requisite to Cecil Balmonds studio. We are learning how to intuitively understand extremely complex forms through rigorous mathematical programming of geometrical shapes. For those of you who are totally out of the loop, Cecil Balmond is the head guy at the leading engineering firm in the world: Ove Arup. Does this seem odd to anyone? why are architect students learning VB and C# in the realm of SmartGeometry, Generative Components, and Rhino scripting, why so rigourous? Well its the end of this Form and Space obsession of architecture. I am sure this isn't Balmonds intention, but thanks to the rebels against the cube, Form and Space are done. Here is the quick history:

    1. Modern architecture oblished ornament and abstracted the basics forms for us (Adolf Loos, De Stijl)

    2. Space became free flowing (FLW, Mies)

    3. Then all the straight forward basic principles failed on many levels, urban planning, meaning, etc...

    4. Po-mo, Italian Rationalism but within a context of the varnacular, Michael Graves, Corb's brutalism and Ronchamp, Robert A.M. Stern historical crap, Archigrams fun overly technolical conceptions, Archizooms presentation of full force modernity as an apocalyptic situation

    5. Semiotics, writing cities, etc...importing linguistics and social sciences (Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, etc...) so that architecture may form a language

    6. Deconstruction...importing a philosophy to deconstruct the language of architecture (Derrida, Deleuze)

    7. Situationism and Events...importing hedonistic temporal duration cinematic experience architecture crap (Debord, cinematic application of Bergson)

    8. Existenialism, Power, and Dwellin...Heideger, Foucalt, etc...

    9. Blobs....

    10. Ribbons...

    11. High-Tech as style and justified by Sustainability

    12. Gehry Technoligies....capable of making extremely complicated forms affordable and buildable via Catia platform based Digital Project

    13. Forms and Algorithms...I know you're saying how can you end it with a class you're taking. trust me its the end, and Forms and Algorithms is just another Brick in the Wall.

    see the cycle. clarity via scientific analysis rebelled against via artistic concepts, just to become scientific again... you're thinking, won't architects resort to rebelling again....what do you propose? I have one answer for you...

    CAS's and Emergence....complex adaptive systems and emergence, a combo of phase transititions in physics, cellular automata, economics realization that their objects of study are agents of irrational behavior. in the world of architecture this means our forms and spaces evolve themselves via genetic rules and the enviroment.

    So why would Form and Space be dead?

    well, emergence and CAS's exclude the designer from the design of forms and space. the designer designs the rules and lets it fly.

    Conclusion: the study of form and space in itself is dead, we've covered all the bases so let us move on to more important things...please!

    Form and Space should be taught like English 101: i.e. this is a cube, cubes are useful for this, this is a blob, historically applicable as this...but no need in wasting hours of studio time justify Form and Space...

    with that said I love my Forms and Algorithms class, i intend to use to exclude me from design decisions unless of course I want to make one, but I really don't feel like justifing form and space anymore, its so damn elementary.


  • failure and some questions

    Just had mid-term reviews. I am sure I could have done alright had I not called my project a failure. Explanation of studio assignment: we were asked to study a component and then basically repeat it in an algorithmic fashion to achieve some new overall emerging form or to find the limits of the...


  • LA Studio Trip - Days 3 + 4

    Oct. 14&15 Day 3 - Greg Lynn, Disney Concert Hall, Cal-Tran, Moneo's Church, Morphosis, and XefirotarchGreg Lynn - On a strip mall type street in Venice Beach there is a door with 3” letters indicating the office of Greg Lynn. He was not there but someone else, name escapes me...


  • Studio LA Trip - Days 1&2

    did anybody watch the Mets and Cardinals game... (Oct. 12 & 13) At some point I was thinking grad school would be a great oppurtunity to study for my licensing exams and get Metamechanics up and running...um, apparently grad school is a challenge and there isn't that guy in studio you can...


  • General Components and Maya Dyanamics are CRACK!

    Just to show you how naturally ignorant I am of Chreods!, back in the day, like way back; I must have been 10 or 11 years old or something; I attempted to reprogram an Atari game in my parent's Commodore 128 (that's not the punchline, hold on). The Commodore 128 included Commodore 64 (the more...


  • Chreods! (Sanford Kwinter Lecture)

    Disclaimer: this is my opinion at this moment, I am doing my best to describe the lecture and to develop my own theories from it, so I apologize if I misrepresent something.(especially sections 2 thru 4)Chreods! (Sanford Kwinter)intro lecture to the NlSO conference at Penn It's great to see...


  • Velocity of Program

    not sure if Winka Dubbeldam was the first to say that but the phrase is way cool - "Velocity of Program" had our first graded pin-up, fairly intense i imagine, but its been 5 years since i had a serious pin-up. i think i did alright. started experimenting with simple tensigrity simplexes in 3dMax...


  • inner conflict

    i don't like using both sides of my brain! especially when i am confronted with the concept "non-linear". one side says, look man thats the way life is and the other, a more violent side i might add, everything is linear, its just a matter of perspective and will power. below is a description of...


  • Tensegrity and a wall house(?)

    via bold faced letter re-presentation, i will signify what class the material disussed is relevant to. studioTensegrity...I know what you're thinking, tensegrity is so 1960's Buckminster Fuller . Maybe, if you're talking spaceframe geodesic domes. I have yet to see a Kenneth Snelson sculpture turn...


  • Passive thinking and a Slight Paradox

    just read the Detlef Mertins interview...excellent article and very representative of the school (as I am finding out). unlike a friend of mine who attended Colubmia recently I will not be saying "I spent 70 grand to learn Maya.", but he also said everyone listens to him when he speaks now. I...


  • Planning a Wedding and Forms and Algorithms

    First design principle of wedding planning: let the bride do it, it is not your show man, and don't make comments about how much you don't like brass or accoustical ceiling tile. but we might get lucky, there is a place in Fair Haven, NJ that was designed in the style of FLW...so I am assuming no...


  • Maximum Mass Transit

    Time is always money...I managed to purchase a car in one day right before I left for Iceland for 9 days. When I returned I had one day (Labor Day) to get ready for school. Well, I didn't have car insurance so I had to walk 20 minutes to the train station indicated by the blue dot on the map below...


  • First I Graduated...Then I Went To Iceland

    Well it's all over. I somehow finished a project (finished as in had something to present). I moved a car load of stuff out of studio. I made it to graduation day. I got to hear Jodie Foster and Steve Wynn as commencement speakers. I got my UPENN diploma. I returned my cap and gown. And then I...


  • Regurgitating Robots and Max on a Mac

    So much work to do now...a surprise visit from Francois is scheduled for Sunday (that's right Easter Sunday). We have to meet him at his hotel with digitial models ready for 3d printing. I think I speak for the whole class when I say...errrr...digital models of what exactly?? Everyone has been...


  • I made a concrete turd

    I really did. I squeezed clumpy concrete through my hands and let it drip and pile up and it pretty much looked like dog crap...kinda juicy dog crap, and I was actually trying to make a model. So this leaves me feeling like WTF! I am about to walk out of here with a master's degree?! I mean at...


  • Snack Heaven

    Ok this one is going to take some explaining...It all started last semester when one of my industrious classmates decided to start a new venture called J-Mart. Basically, J-Mart sells all kinds of candy and sodas and is based out of a fridge near the owner's desk. You can go at any time and make a...


  • My poor little mid-review

    We had mid-review last week. A little late in the semester, but it seems like many studios waited until after spring break to have reviews. It was really sad because I got pretty sick two days before the review. I had to do alll of my work from my bed. Just me, my dog and my laptop all buried...


  • My studio teacher hypnotized me...

    So Francois was in again last week, and it was pretty much awesome. The first thing that he did was try to hypnotize us using a movie that he made for a project. It was basically this old man's face and a creepy voice that gave you instructions on relaxation. It was really cool. He wanted us to...


  • Striving for Mediocrity

    This is something I have been wanting to post on for a few days. I think I mentioned the exhibition/competition that I took part in last week. It is basically an exhibit of 3 project from each of the architecture schools in Philly. It is really interesting/unsettling to see all of the different...


  • I need to get my A$S in GEAR!!!!

    WTF! We are in week 5 of our semester and I have pretty much nothing to show for it yet. I am researching lots of cool stuff in studio, but if I don't output something soon, I think I am going to have a breakdown. I am doing work...not staying up crazy late or anything, but I am keeping a pretty...


  • French desk crits are my favorite

    I had my first desk crit with Francois yesterday. It was such a weird day...I had professional practice in the morning (9-12) after which I ran upstairs to squeeze a 30 minute deskcrit in before heading off to my theory class on Meaning and Modes of Representation with Dalibor Vessly. Such a...


  • BioNoodles + BOOM!

    Well its back to the grindstone in studio...We have been working towards our first pinup with Francois which is later this week. The class has been divided into groups, for researching various topics (swarming, robotics, termites, scripting, etc) I am in the swarming group. I have mostly been...


  • French madness!!!!!!!!

    HOORAY! I am so happy to have gotten my first choice in the studio lottery. I am in Francois Roche's studio. You can check out the work of his firm, R&Sie here, but be warned, the site might give you a siezure. The other choices for the 704 research studios were David Adjaye, Cecil Balmond...


  • Final Project Pics_Cabinet of Curiosities

    OK, here it is...the result of last semester's work...hopefully it will make sense to you. This studio enjoyed the experience of working for a real client, the Folk Arts Charter School in Chinatown, Philadelphia, and seeing the design through to a built prototype. The charge was to create a...


  • Where did I go? AKA Paul, please dont shut my blog down :)

    OK, OK I know I didn't keep up as well with the posting this semester, but I had some reasoning behind it, so don't be too mad at me. I guess basically my feelings towards studio this semester were just getting too negative, and I didn't want to post something nasty and really regret it later. So...


  • Non-linear stirrings

    Things are a buzz throughout the school right now because of the launch of the Non-linear Systems Organization. It is basically a small research group under the direction of Cecil Balmond that is going to be studying lots of yummy non-linear things. The really cool part about it is that it brings...


  • wait for it....

    i haven't posted in so long, because i have been waiting for a big breakthrough in studio to tell you about. well i kept waiting and waiting, and still nothing. now i am just getting sad about it. i don't know where this semester is heading right now. things are feeling very very stale in my work...


  • Here's what it looks like...

    Studio is still shrouded in mystery. A strange sight visit with unforseen hints about what our project might be yesterday has left us all wondering. I am struggling to make some sense of all of it... Electives have been great though. In Ali Rahim's class yesterday we had Mark Goulthorpe as a guest...


  • The phases of frustration

    !@$%* %$@@! @#!!!!!!... is what i have been feeling like lately. studio has been so so frustrating. we are in the process of making "material probes" and "cabinets of curiosities" the definition of everything is extremely vague as you can imagine. this is not really the frustrating part though. i...


  • back to school

    as of yesterday i finally made it through one round of all of my new classes. last week was our official first week of school, but with studio and elective presentations taking up much of the week, things got off to a slow start. i am in wesley wei's studio this semester. i was really hoping to...


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