Initial statement‏

[CYB-COALITION] Initial statement‏ from: Goncalo Furtado

1) How I found cybernetics? I found cybernetics during my graduation in architecture; i.e. about a decade ago. At the time, I was uncomfortable with the excess of formalism and determinism at school. (I was interested on non-top-down and adaptable design; the post-war epistemological shifts; the challenges brought by poststructuralist’ postmodernisms; and the impacts of the so-call Informational Society.) It leaded me to embrace cybernetics themes, and it expanded the framework of my research. (Out of curiosity, I remember to be dissuaded by older colleagues, who saw me as a promising theorist losing his time with a death discipline). I got a special interest on the work and career of second-order cyberneticist Gordon Pask - a humanistwho acted as consultant to (among others) Cedric Price - the maverick of British architecture. Then I spent some years doing archival research, including exhaustive research at professor G’s personal archive (held by his daughter at the time). It ended in my PhD, and following presentations. (In short, the thesis provided a history of exchanges between architecture and the fields of cybernetics, systems research and computation. In particular, it focused on the achievements and encounters of Gordon Pask, Price and Frazer. In short, the first part of the thesis was dedicated to early developments in Cybernetics and architecture, including Pask’s career and the rise of C2; the second part focused the rise of a project called Generator; and the third one focused on later achievements of Pask and others up to his death in 1996. In highlight their role in envisiong an evolving environment.).

2) What cybernetics means to me:

I see cybernetics et alts as a elegant, trans-disciplinary and evolving system of thought; It could be addressed to diverse subjects, have application to both thought and action; and possess epistemological and practical implications.

I think it informs (as other stuff) my everyday life and my work as a designer, theorist and teacher. (And I imagine that my researching experience on Pask - i.e. the years that I spent literally immersed in his world and archive - was influential and inspirational in the formulation of my cybernetics.) In what relates to design and alike, I consider that C potentially offers valuable insights to the field, specially when it deals with complexity, change, unpredictibility etc.)

3) Description of my cybernetics:

Notes: The centre and significance of cybernetics resides in its explicit valuing of a powerful set of ideas (such as feed-back, complexity, circularity, organization, interactivity, cooperation, variability, emergence, and ultimately change etc); and in its simultaneous pursue of harmonious (dynamic) coherences.

On one hand, I suspect that cybernetics will not benefit nowadays from any strict and frozen definition (for that reason I considered the “my cybernetics” exercise adequate and interesting). On the other hand, I think one should suspect about any definition oriented towards meta-solutions, worldviews and/or processual absolutes. (To a certain extent, what cybernetics enables is a prioritizing of difference and an awareness about our individual responsibility.) The value I ascribe to C2 is that it enables to understand the world, life, knowledge, and creation, as a flux-process of circularities, in which participation, self-reference and emergence plays an important role. However, one might remain ambivalent of the benefit brought by strict demarcations between C1, C2, C etc, if they emphasize incompatibilities.

Gonçalo Furtado




- FURTADO, Gonçalo, Notes on the Space of the Digital Technique, Porto: Mimesis, 2002[OBS: Ver complementarmente do mesmo autor o livro Interferências: Conformação, Implementação e Futuro da Cultura Digital, Oporto: (Edição de autor), 2005.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, BRAZ, Rui (eds.), Architecture and Information Society, Porto: FAUP, 2002.
[OBS: Ver complementarmente do mesmo autors artigo publicado em: Arquitectura e Vida, N.29, Julho/Agosto 2002, p.11; e livro editado sob o titulo Architecture: Body and Machine, Porto: FAUP Publicações, 2006.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, SOUSA, José, “Referências Sobre o Digital na Arquitectura”, in: Psiax, N.3, Junho 2004, pp.39-44.
[OBS: Dos mesmo autores ver artigos publicados em: Arquitectura e Vida, N.20, Outubro 2001, pp.126-129; e Arquitectura e Vida, N.15, Abril 2001, pp.90-91.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, “Considerações sobre Planeamento e Urbanismo face à Sociedade da Informação”, in: GOUVEIA; Luís (ed.), Cidades e Regiões Digitais: Impacto na Cidade e nas Pessoas, Porto: Ed. Universidade Fernando Pessoa, 2003, pp.237-249
[OBS: Ver complementarmente do mesmo autor artigo “Implementação e Futuro da Cultura digital”, in: GOUVEIA, Luis(ed.), Sociedade da Informação: Balanço e implicações, Ed. Universidade Fernando Pessoa, 2004, pp.271-296; e artigo “Urbanidade Digital” (ed.), in: GOUVEIA, Luis, “International Colloquium ‘Digital Cities: The Following Day’: Acts Proceedings” (UFP/ISCSP-UNL, Lisboa, Maio 2007), Forthcoming.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, “Brief Notes on Two Infinite Scales”, in: Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research (edited by Roy Ascott), V.5, N.2, United Kingdom, 2007, pp.87-96.
[OBS: Ver complementarmente do mesmo autor o artigo "Rumo a uma Estética Arquitectónica Evolutiva: Interesses Tecno-cientificos Actuais, Complexidade, e as Iniciais Permissões do Emergente", in: Arq./a, January 2008, pp.20-23.

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, OLIVEIRA, Miguel, “Reflexão Sobre os Novos Modelos Comunicacionais de Mobilidade Urbana”, in: Razon e Palabra (Ed.André Lemos), N.41, México, Outubro 2004.
[OBS: ver complementarmente do mesmo autor artigo “Cidades Digitais II: Considerações sobre Planeamento…#V2…” apresentado á “V Bienal Ibero Americana de la Comunicación”, no Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey-Mexico, Setembro 2005.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, “Sobre L'Empresonament Digital: 'Espai Public en la Condición Urbana Contemporania”, in: Transversal, Leida (Spain), N.23, Maio 2004, pp.42-45.
[OBS: ver complementarmente do autor o artigo “Designar na imagética do espaço urbano?”, in: Pedro Brandão e António Ramesar (eds.), Design Urbano inclusivo, Centro Português de Design, Lisboa, 2004, pp.58-64.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, HERNANDEZ, Carlos (eds), Off Fórum: Postindustrial Global City and Repressed Marginal Design Discourses, Oporto/Bogota: PEI-PUJ, 2004.
[OBS: Ver complementarmente do mesmo autor livro Behind the Pencil: Or the Construction of the Critical Project, Oporto/Bogota: PEI-Pontificia Universidad javeriana, 2005; e artigo publicado em: MIRANDA, José Bragança, COELHO, Eduardo Prado (eds.), Revista de Comunicação e Linguagens, N.34-35, Junho 2005, pp.231-240.]

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, "Cedric Price and Gordon Pask: The Japan Net Experiment (1986)", in: Robert Trapll (ed.), Cybernetics and Systems (EMCSR 2008: Acts Proceedings), Vienna: Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, pp.138-143.
[OBS: Ver complementarmente do mesmo autor o livro Generator and Beyond: Encounters of Cedric Price and John Frazer, Coimbra: Semear Palavras, 200.; e artigo publicado em: Technoetic Arts: A journal of Speculative Research, V.6, N.1, 2008].

- FURTADO, Gonçalo, “Arquitectura y Cuerpo: Interfaces Digitales e Bio-tecnologicos”, in: Postbok, N.6, Madrid, Novembro 2004, pp.30-33.
[OBS: Ver complementarmente do autor o artigo “O Corpo no Espaço na Técnica Contemporânea”, in: Fernando Cascais (ed.), Revista de Comunicação e Linguagens (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Junho 2004, N.33, p.283-292; e o artigo “Notas sobre o Design de Interface”, publicado em: 404notfound (Ed. André Lemos: Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas em Cibercultura), Volume I, N.37, Brasil, Fevereiro 2004; e em NADA, Lisboa, N.2, Março 2004, pp.62-71.]


Lectures on Pask and Price


“Gordon Pask: Musicolour, FPCC, Colloquium of Mobiles and other evolving experiments"
by G.Furtado
Master “Industrial Design”,
30 May and 6 June 2008

"Architecture and Systems Research since WWII: The encounters of Price, Pask and Frazer, and the envisioning of Generator, Japan net and other responsive and evolving environments”

by G.Furtado
Master Metropois,
Centre de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona,
10 June 2008


“Envisioning and Evolving Environment: The Encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer” (University College of London, PhD Dissertation, 2007)
Gonçalo M Furtado C Lopes

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).
The account on Generator and Japan Net is based on primary sources examined in the
course of my research of the Cedric Price Archives held at the Canadian Centre for
Architecture - Montréal, Canada.…
The account of Gordon Pask’s career is based on primary sources examined in the course of
my research of the Gordon Pask personal archive

In memory of my father (1929-2006).


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 - Airplanes over London]

1.1 - Systems, adaptative machines and self-organization (p.42)

A childhood curiosity

[1.2 - Gordon Pask’s Note books]

The circular model

[1.3 - Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics: Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine]

British Cybernetics

[1.4 - System Research]

Adaptative instruction and interaction

[1.5 - Gordon Pask’s Musicolor]

[1.6 - Gordon Pask’s SAKI]

[1.7 - Association Internationale de Cybernétique in Namur]

[1.8 - Gordon Pask´s “An Approach to Cybernetics”]

Self-organization mode

[1.9 - Gordon Pask and Heinz Von Foerster]

[1.10 - Gordon Pask´s “One Kind of Immortality”]

1.2 - Early exchanges with art forms (p.61)

Creative interests Fig

[1.11 - Gordon Pask’s Mural painting]

[1.12 - Gordon Pask’s Art portfolio]

Design methodologies

[1.13 - Society of Industrial Artists and Designers’ conference, “The Measure of Design”]

1.3 - The 1960s’ breakthrough attitude and Cedric Price’s experiments on impermanence (p.66)

A shift

[1.14 - Reyner Banham’s “Theory and Design in the First Machine Age”]

The maverick of British Architecture

The seminality of the Fun Palace

[1.15 - Cedric Price’s Fun Palace’s main version]

[1.16 - Gordon Pask’s Folder]

[1.17 - Map with possible Fun Palace locations]

[1.18 - Cedric Price’s Fun Palace’s pilot version]

Relevance and other experiments on impermanence

1.4 - Architectural Association and the Colloquium of Mobiles (p.94)

The self-regulation impact

[1.19 - Cook’s invitation letter to Gordon Pask]

[1.20 - Gordon Pask’s consultancies given to AA students].

A “man-size reactive environment”

[1.21 - Gordon Pask’s Colloquium of Mobiles]

[1.22 - Mobile and cocoons]

[1.23 - Gordon Pask’s letter to ICA]

1.5 - Architectural machine intelligence and second-order cybernetics (p.113)

[1.24 - Gordon Pask lecturing to an American audience]

Architectural Machine Group

[1.25 - Gordon Pask’s Itinerary for a trip to the U.S]

[1.26 - Nicholas Negroponte]

Interaction and intelligence

A second-order

[1.27 - Heinz Von Foerster’s “Observing Systems”]

Establishing an interactionist theory

[1.28 - Gordon Pask’s “Conversation Theory: Applications in Education and Epistemology”]
Towards a unification of architectural theories

[1.29 - Gordon Pask’s Essay]


[1.30 - Gordon Pask, Ranulph Glanville and Mike Robinson’s “Calculator Saturnalia - An Orgy on Highly Original

Artificial Intelligence

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)

Gilman Paper

Briefings and establishing the feasibility study

[2.1 - Cedric Price Architects’ “Design validity chart …”]

[2.2 - Cedric Price Architects’ “Activity compatibility” chart]

[2.3 - Collage of photographs]

The research continues: towards a responsive architecture

[2.4 - Aerial view of the site]

Project validation

[2.5 - Cedric Price’s Notes]

[2.6 - Site comparisons]

Assessments and preparing a press release

[2.7 - Cedric Price’s Collage]

[2.8 - Cedric Price Architects’ Sketch]

2.2 - Consultancies and further design definition (p.178)
Fuelling technical cooperation and the soil survey

[2.9 - LAW’s Report]

The products survey

The “just one” menu and the (spatial) regeneration process

[2.10 - Cedric Price’s collaborator Notes]

The first “Menu”

[2.11 - Menu]

The American front

Specifying the building components

The Technical Reports

[2.12 - F.J.S. & Partners’s Drawing]

[2.13 - Cedric Price Architects’ Detail]

The architectural drawings

[2.14 - Cedric Price Architects’ Drawing]

[2.15 - Computer model]

[2.16 - Assembly]

[2.17 - Grid and Menu]

[2.18 – Menu]

[2.19 - Photograph of model]

The first service systems

2.3 - Envisioning the building and the announcement of its suspension (p.220)

The first experience with a residence

[2.20 - Tartan grid]

Setting the grid, difficulties and revisions

[2.21 - Grid lines]

[2.22 - ]

The prototype and alike

Last efforts and trip

Service systems and last details

[Fig 2.23 - Diagrams of electrical services]

[2.24 - Plan of cubes, subframes and services]

Paper simulations and a temporary break

[2.25 - Cedric Price Architects’ Mock-up]

2.4 - Frazer’s systems research (p.243)

Requiring Frazer’s systems consultancy

Computational proposals and programs
[2.27 - Regeneration]

[2.28 - Generator plan made by computer]

The Frazers’ research and techniques

Generator computer programs, models and perspectives

[2.29 - Computer program]

[2.30 - Computer programmes]

[2.31- Intelligent modelling system]

Generator’s acknowledgement as the first intelligent building and its repercussions

[2.32 - ]
Intelligent Modelling Models.

Frazer’s further research and correspondence concerning the Generator

[2.33 - ]
Generator perspective made by computer.

PART 3 - The information environment - The reencounters of Pask, Price and Frazer


3.1 - The new techno-cultural order (p.276)
Microman’s symbiosis

[3.1 - Gordon Pask and Susan Curran’s “Microman - Living and Growing with Computers”]

Interaction of Actors

[3.2 - “Wiener Medal” attributed to Gordon Pask]

[3.3 - Gordon Pask assuming responsibility as guest professor in General Andragology]

3.2 - Architectural computing (p.284)

A laboratory for computer literacy

[3.4 - Gordon Pask and Alvin Boyarsky]


[3.5 - Ranulph Glanville’s “Computing: Some Potential. Some Future”]

3.3 - The Japan Net experience (p.292)

The competition entry

[3.6 - Cedric Price’s Draft]

General design approach and Pask and Price’s components

[3.7 - Panel for Japan Net Competition Entry]

[3.8 - Panel for the Japan Net Competition Entry]

[3.9 - Panel for the Japan Net Competition Entry]

[3.10 - Panel for the Japan Net Competition Entry]

[3.11 - Panel for the Japan Net Competition Entry]


Urbanity and Information Society

Pask’s last attempt at design

3.4 - The Generator revisited (p.314)

[3.12 - Cedric Price’s Notes]


Design, Architecture and the Information Society

3.5 - Towards an evolving aesthetics (p.329)


Last years

[3.13 - Gordon Pask’s sketches]

A play on words

Emergence and time

[3.14 - Gordon Pask’s Mock-up]

[3.15 - Gordon Pask and Alan Balfour]

Installations on evolution (The “Universal Constructor” and the “A of K”) and the Inter-Unit

[3.16 - Chip of model]

[3.17 - “Universal Constructor” made by John Frazer’s unit at AA]

[3.18 - Gordon Paskand the Frazer’s Unit]

Towards essays on evolution (An Evolutionary Architecture and the Architecture of Civilization, Culture and the Information Environment)

[3.19 - Gordon Pask and Alan Balfour]

[3.20 - Gordon Pask’s Mock-up]

[3.21 - Gordon Pask’s Diagram]


PART IV - Conclusion

4.1 - Conclusion - The envisioning of an evolving environment (p.366-421)

4.2 - Archival and bibliographical sources (p.381-426)

Gordon Pask Archive - Held by Amanda Heitler.

Cedric Price Archives - Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal …
Generator Document Folio

Cedric Price Archives - Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal

Japan Net Document Folio

Other sources



Princeton university


Media and Modernity

Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 106, School of Architecture

Goncalo Furtado

Architecture and Systems Research since WWII: Cedric Price, Gordon Pask et alts: Japan Net, Generator and other Responsive and Evolving Environments