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Architecture and the Design Evolution of Rule-Based Systems

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

HEIGHTENING ARCHITECTURE’S POTENTIAL

There is no question that the design evolution of technology is skyrocketing – and having profound effects on architecture. As technology grows in processing power, it also shrinks in size, allowing for more complex uses where technology can be embedded in objects (and smart environments). Consequently, interactions between humans and technology are becoming evermore complex, and at the heart of such interactions may be the notion of rule-based systems — where sensors and actuators communicate according to rules that allow an environmental system to carry out goal-based behaviors.

HOW WILL BUILDINGS LEARN?

But, is this the only way to build smart environments in the future? In a recent article entitled The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine, the author Ray Kurzweil describes how machines are gaining speed in their ability to download complex patterns. He states that “computing technology is experiencing [an] exponential growth.” (1) I find Kurzweil’s insight into the evolution of technology to be fascinating. After all, what effects will such complex technological systems have once embedded into architecture? Kurzweil describes three methods that may be used for smart system design as follows:

1) painstakingly program the rules of complex processes (1)

2) mimic human learning where self-organizing algorithms are programmed to gradually learn patterns of information (1)

3) program for genetic algorithms, where solutions are allowed to evolve gradually (1)

In essence, systems are learning to learn. So, with this type of technological power, where is architecture heading? What will future smart built environments be able to do? How do we as architects want architectural environments to progress? What problems should we look out for? The questions go on and on …

GUIDING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE FUTURE

The potential design evolution of architecture is fascinating to think about. I am intrigued by the advancements in systems design and look forward to exploring ways for architecture to develop as technology continues to move forward.

As creative thinking gives way to innovation in architecture, newfound functions, aesthetics and behavioral interactions will continue to enter the picture. I think architecture stands on solid ground as we, as an industry, embrace how technology develops – hopefully, guiding it toward more responsible and meaningful applications.

(1) Kurzweil, Ray. The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine. Scientific American. March 23, 2009.

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McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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