Research at CCA, Montreal, 2005.

Envisioning an Evolving Environment

Envisioning an Evolving Environment - The Encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer
Gonçalo Miguel Furtado Cardoso Lopes
PhD Dissertation supervised by Neil Spiller and Iain Borden
Bartlett School of Architecture - U.C.L. Faculty of the Built Environment - 2007.


PART 0 - Introduction
0.1 - The encounters around architecture and systems research (p.6)

PART 1 - First steps - Pask and Price’s pioneering experiences
1.1 - Systems, adaptative machines and self-organization (p.42)
1.2 - Early exchanges with art forms (p.61)
1.3 - The 1960s’ breakthrough attitude and Cedric Price’ experiments on impermanence (p.66)
1.4 - Architectural Association and the Colloquium of mobiles (p.94)
1.5 - Architectural machine intelligence and second-order-cybernetics (p.113)

PART 2 - The first intelligent building - Price’s Generator and the Frazers’ research
2.1 - The rise of Generator and its initial design studies (p.145)
2.2 - Consultancies and further design definition (p.178)
2.3 - Envisioning the building and the announcement of its suspension (p.220)
2.4 - Frazer’s systems research (p.243)

PART 3 - The Information Environment - The reencounters of Pask, Price and Frazer
3.1 - A new techno-cultural order (p.276)
3.2 - Architectural computing (p.284)
3.3 - The Japan Net experience (p.292)
3.4 - The Generator revisited (p.314)
3.5 - Towards an evolving aesthetics (p.329)

PART 4 - Conclusion
4.1 - Conclusion - The envisioning of an evolving environment (p.366)
4.2 - Archival and bibliographical sources (p.381-426)

Towards a responsive architecture

See also:

Gonçalo Furtado Lopes, “Towards a Responsive Architecture. Cedric Price’s Generator and Systems Research”.
Research 2005/6 supported by F.C.T.. F.A.U.P., March 2006. (Approx. length 45 000).

“This…presents a large research on one of the seminal architectural projects engaged with cybernetics conceived by Cedric Price. … The relevance of this research consists of two aspects: first it provides a complete historical account of the project and second it explores the significance of its cybernetic engagement.”

“Part 0 - Introduction.
Part 1 - The history of Generator.
1.1 - Howard’s art initiatives - Collecting and researching.
1.3 - … The subsequent design development.
1.4 - An inclusive teamwork - The consultants´ cooperation.
1.5 - … The regeneration process and the first menu.
1.6 - Reports - Specifying the building components.
1.7 - Test - First experience and prototype.
1.8 - Envisioning the building and its subsequent suspension.
Part 2 - Technological responsiveness and its legacy.
2.1 - The Frazers´ - Cybernetic systems and models.
2.2 - Returnings - Later proposals and its legacy."

Research was made possible by a scholarship fund from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Cofinanciamento do Programa Operacional da Ciência e Inovação 2010 e do fundo social Europeu).


Envisioning an Evolving Environment - The Encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer
Gonçalo Miguel Furtado Cardoso Lopes. Supervised by Neil Spiller and Iain Borden
Bartlett School of Architecture - U.C.L. Faculty of the Built Environment

This thesis provides a history of exchanges between architecture and the fields of cybernetics, systems research and computation, throughout the period of the last half century. In particular, it focuses on the encounters of the British professionals - Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer - and provides a complete account of two outstanding architectural projects related to systems and computation - Generator and Japan Net. It also highlights the architectural relevance of these encounters and the importance of their contemporary legacy - the genesis of the systemic and computational paradigm in architectural design and the promotion of an evolving environment. The thesis is based mainly on research of Gordon Pask’s personal archive (held by Ms. Amanda Heitler) and Cedric Price Archives (held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture).
The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part relates to early developments involving cybernetics and architecture. It includes Pask’s career and the rise of a second-order-cybernetics, as well as Price’s breakthrough posture and tireless promotion of an impermanent architecture opened to user participation. The second part provides a complete account of Price’s Generator. It focuses on the project’s diverse phases and consultancies, and highlights John and Julia Frazer’s contribution as systems consultants, which led this project to be acknowledged as the first intelligent building. The third part focuses on the rise of the information environment and the later reencounters between and achievements of Pask, Price and Frazer. It includes revisits to the Generator project, a complete account of the Japan Net competition entry, as well as pointing out outstanding ideas on evolving installations and essays of both Frazer and Pask.
It becomes clear that the current architectural agenda, focused on the new techno-cultural order of the information society and an aesthetics of emergence can benefit from these seminal exchanges, encounters and projects.

London, March 2007.