NEXUS 2010

Segunda-feira 14 Junho 2010
Morning session
Session III: Architecture, Systems Research and Computational Sciences
Gonçalo Furtado, moderator

10:00-10:10 Gonçalo Furtado, Session Introduction


Gonçalo M Furtado C L is graduated in Architecture (Oporto University, Portugal), Master in Architecture (UPC, Spain), and PhD in Theory and History of Architecture (UCL, England). He won prizes such as the “Florêncio de Carvalho Award” (1999), a “Highly Commended-paper” at the last World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics, and scholarships from the FCT and the Luso-British Foundation.
Furtado teaches at Oporto University (Master and PhD Program) and at the master in Industrial Design of FEUP.
He was involved in the organization on many events, exhibitions and alike; and he acted as reviewer to eg the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s Colloquium in Helsinky (2003) and the International editorial board of “The Radical Designist” (2006-…).
Furtado gave lectures in Portugal, United Kingdom, United States of America, Spain, Brazil, Poland, Germany, Colombia, Austria and Mexico, Germany and Austria
He is the author or editor of books such as: “Arquitectura: Prótese do Corpo” (2002; eds. Furtado et alts); “Architecture and Information Society”,(2002; eds. Furtado and Braz); “Notes on the Space of Digital Technique” (2002) ; “Marcos Cruz: Unpredictable Flesh (2004); “Off Fourm: Postglobal City and Marginal Design Discourses” (2004; ed. Furtado and Hernandez); “Interferencias: Conformação, Implementação e Futuro da Cultura Digital” (2005); “The Construction of the Critical Project” (2005); “Architecture: Machine and Body” (2006; eds. Furtado e Braz); “Generator and Beyond: Encounters of Cedric Price and John Frazer” (Jan.2008) etc.
Recent publications included eg:
- “Envisioning an Evolving Environment-Encounters of Gordon Pask, Cedric Price and John Frazer: A Brief Account”, in: Roy Ascott, Wolfgang Fiel, Gerald Bast, Margarete Jahrmann (eds.), “New Realities. Being Syncretic, NewYork-Wien: SpringerWienNewYork, 2009, pp.118-122.
- “Gordon Pask (1928-1996): Seminal Experiments on Cybernetic Art and Design (From a Childhood Curiosity and Mobiles to the I.E.’s Symbiosis”), in: Álvaro Barbosa (ed.), "Artech 2008: IVth International Conference on Digital Arts", Porto: Universidade Católica Portuguesa, 2008, pp. 191-200.
- “Gordon Pask: Exchanges Between Cybernetics and Architecture and the Envisioning of the ‘Informational Environment’”, in: J.Józefczyk, W.Thomas, M.Turowska (eds.), XIVth International Congress of Cybernetics and Systems of WOSC: Prodeedings, Poland: Oficyna Wydawnicza Politechniki Wroclawskiej / World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics, 2008, p.910-921,
- "Towards an Evolutionary Archiectural Aesthetics (Part A: Today’s techno-scientific interests and the earlier enabling of the emergent”, in: Furtado e Póvoas (eds.), “Contemporary Architectural Challenges”, Oporto: FAUP, 2008, p.15-18.
- "Cedric Price and Gordon Pask: The Japan Net Experiment (1986)", in: Robert Trapll (ed.), Vienna: Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, EMCSR 2008, pp.138-143.
- "Cedric Price's Generator and the Frazers' System Research 1", in: Technoetic Arts (edited by Roy Ascott), Vol. 6, N.1, March-May 2008.
- “Brief notes on two infinite scales”, in: "Technoetic arts: A Journal of speculative research", v.5, N.2, Great Britain, 2007, pp.87-96.


This session is dedicated to exploring the exchanges between architecture and the fields of systems research and computational sciences, highlighting the relationships between architecture and mathematics.
Systems research goes back to the war period, and it is concerned with 'organization' from an approach of complexity. The history of the field recalls an expansion of attention up to the level of the planet with the Club of Rome's systemic approach to the global problem (e.g. De Rosbay, 1978) but this dealing with issues of complexity was also paralleled by the acknowledgement of 'uncertainty'.
Systems research embraced a wide field of application; and, as Cybernetics, it became influential throughout the post-war period. There was, undoubtedly, a later 'backlash' against the latter; however, as Scott has mentioned, its concepts permeated such areas as AI, Systems and Emergence Sciences. (Scott, ca.1996) Moreover, a 'second-order cybernetics' arose around the 1970s, acknowledging the presence of the observer in Systems, and leading to theoretical developments such as 'Autopoiesis’, ‘Conversation Theory’ etc. At the time, computation became ubiquitous, and its later connection with telecommunications led to cyberspace and to the Information Society in which we now live.
At an early date, systems research, cybernetics and computational sciences, went on to interfere in the fields of Art and Architecture. Early occurrences included the work of Schoffer, Pask, Jones, Alexander and Negroponte work, and they were fuelled by a desire to overcome the rigid architecture and planning of modernism, by representing the dynamics of time. Progressively, digital space and life also constituted an architectural challenge, at the levels of the city's building and design practice. The earliest approaches date back to the early 1990s, and advanced explorations were made by architects such as Novak (on ‘Transvergence’) and Frazer (on ‘Evolutionary Architecture’).
To a certain extent, the current digital architectural culture is rooted in cybernetics, and the systems approach enables a systemic focus of contemporary cities, and the ecological global problem. Today, Architecture's desire for a more evolving environment is leading to interest in the new sciences of Emergence and Complexity, which Jencks even associates to a ‘New Paradigm in Architecture’.
The session will consists of small presentations focusing important experiences related to architecture and mathematics. The main areas of interest are: systems research, second-order cybernetics, computational sciences, architectural morphogenesis and sustainability. (Presentation focused on topics such as complex systems, self-organization, emergence, topology, CAD-CAM, virtual environments and cyberspace, as well as on architects, designs and buildings which illustrate the relationship between architecture and mathematics will be welcome.) They are the roots sources of a future, effective built environment that could evolve.
Note: This text include some excerpts of Gonçalo Furtado’s article “Gordon Pask: Exchanges Between Cybernetics and Architecture and the Envisioning of the I.E. (‘Informational Environment’), in: Kybernetes, V.38, N.7-8, 2009. One suggest a reading of it, as well as J.De Rosnay’s 'History of Cybernetics and Systems Science”, 1978 (and modified in 2000), in: F.Heylighen, C.Joslyn and V.Turchin (eds), Principia Cybernetica Web, Brussels (available at: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/cybshist.html) and B.Scott’s “Obituary for Professor Gordon Pask”, in: The Independent, London, 1996.

10:10-10:40 Pau Solá-Morales, Information, Architecture, Complexity


Pau Solá-Morales
Born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1968
1997-2000 - Doctor of Design. Harvard Design School.
1996-97 - Master of Design (MDesS). Harvard Design School.
1986-1994 - Licensed in Architecture and Urban Design. ETSAB, UPC.
2006 - Escola d’Arquitectura de Reus. URV, Spain.
2004 - Accademia di Architettura, Mendrisio. USI, Switzerland.
2002-04 - Harvard Design School, Cambridge, MA. USA.
2006-2008 - Máster de Arquitecturas Genéticas. UIC, Barcelona, Spain.
2001-2004 - Universitad Internacional de Catalunya. Barcelona, Spain.
2009 - “Generative or Genetic? Two approaches to design and planning”. Philotope magazine, n.7. (2009)
2008 - Contemporary Architectural Chalenges 2008: Conception, Production And Performance. Keynote speaker. FAUP, Porto, September 22-24, 2008.
2008 - Université Paris-Malaquais. Paris, France
2005 - “La Ciudad Organizada”. Capítulo/artículo en el libro Carme Fiol, (ed.): Barcelona Periferia Cubista. Ajuntament de Barcelona, 2005.
2004 - “Genético versus generativo, o de la generación automática de formas”. First prize of the “IV AJAC Young Architect’s Prize. To be published (2005).
2003 - “A new data model for CAAD”. 1st DOM Conference, Ars Electronica Center, Linz (Austria). Coference particpant. To be published (2004).


The study of the relationship between Information, Architecture and Complexity can be accomplished through the study of patterns of relationships, opening up the field for the understanding of architecture as organization.
The study of Organization has not been part of the program of science until the discovery of systems of particles and the development of thermodynamics. The understanding of complex systems is parallel to the definition of two major concepts related to organization: on the one side, the concept of Entropy (S) is a measure of the order or disorder in the internal structure of systems of objects, and therefore of its internal complexity; on the other side, the notion of Information (loosely derived from the concept of entropy) expresses the internal organization of a communication system, or the internal order or disorder of a message. The relationship of Entropy to Information must not be underestimated, for it is the key to grasp the little details at play in the game of complex systems.
While the Universe and its constituents tend to a state of maximum entropy or disorder (following the 2nd law of Thermodynamics) there are local enclaves where there is a limited and temporary tendency for organization to increase. Complex Adaptive Systems, such as living organisms but not limited to them, are some of these enclaves: non-linear, dynamic and open, these systems exchange matter and energy (hence information) with their environment, acting as rudimentary information systems. While reacting to the uncertainties of their environment (noise), they increase their internal organization to absorb and respond to it: “order out of noise” in Atlan’s words. In so doing, they defy the 2nd law, creating organization instead of evolving towards a greater state of disorder.
Architecture (that is, the technological production of structures, from its inception to its construction) is also an act of creating order out of disorder, and maintaining it against all odds: a transformation of information into organization. Considered as a complex system, architecture represents the transformation of a certain state of the environment into a more organized one, using energy and raw materials, and the exchange of information with the environment.
Architecture, buildings and cities, has traditionally been seen as a static aggregation of objects, (objects above objects, objects next to objects), while its organization has usually been disregarded. First observed and proposed by Christopher Alexander, Patterns of Relationships are a way to view the built environment from an organizational perspective. Fully understanding this idea and all its consequences can be the first step towards an understanding of architecture as organization. Patterns offer the clue to identify organized structures and distinguish them from bare materials, as we are able to distinguish a cell from the molecules than compose or surround it.
Now widely used to cope with the complexity of information systems, Patterns of Relationships offer an affordable method to capture the organization of architectural objects, understand and decode their internal structure, and upgrade the study of the built environment to the new paradigm of complexity.

10:40-11:20 Lora Dikova, After the Paradigm of Contemporary Physics in Architecture: Spatial Possibilities and Variations

Lora Dikova
Master of Architecture, 2006
University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia-Bulgaria
Thesis: The design of the exhibition space
Master of Architecture, 2010
Miami University, USA
Member of the Union of Architects of Bulgaria
Teaching assistant, 2008-2010
Miami University
Course – History and Philosophy of Environmental Design
Official representative of the Union of Architects of Bulgaria to the International Union of Architects, 2007-to present
Architect, 206 – to present
Freelance practice
Architect Assistant, 2004-2005
Bisera Ribarova Ltd
Architect, 2005
Amfion Ltd
Project Manager, 2003-2004
Properties in Bulgaria Ltd
The Singing Bertha-Concert Hall Design Project at the Vizar – The European Architectural Awards of Bulgarian Architecture, 2007
The Exhibition Place – Multipurpose exhibition hall Design Project at Interarch 2006 – XI World architectural Triennial, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2006 and the Outstanding thesis projects Exhibition, 2006.
Honours and Awards:
1st prize for commercial building design at the National Bulgarian Competition Archidea 2007.
Dimitar Boganov Academic Award for outstanding commercial building design Project, 2006.
Union of architects in Bulgaria, Award for commercial building design, 2006.
Highest graduation academic record award, University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, 2006.
Skills and Qualifications:
Final stages in National Olympiads in Mathematics and Physics Piano player, Poetry writer.


Living in the age of scientific, technological and
digital revolution changes our attitude towards information. It
is inevitable to start approaching information not only as a
product of fashionable digital media behavior, but also as a
particular accumulation of facts and activities, transferable bits
of matter, which influence our environment. Architecture not
only exerts spatial influence on our environment, but also it
structures its processes. Acting as such, architecture is
involved into direct representation of informational flows via
organizing spatial systems. Therefore, in the digital era, design
gets more related to transforming different informational
modes into spatial structures.
Transformations of information provide rich
possibilities for conceptualizing space; such transformations
could be achieved by different methodologies. This paper uses
the concept of physical space in contemporary physics, namely
the self-organizational behavior of the space-time framework,
in order to explore various ways of coding information in
design. Analyzing String Theory and its follower M – theory,
the research derives a method for spatial organization of cause
and effect activities resulting in a unified approach towards
design methodology.
This paper explores the concept of movement in the
space-time framework, namely the movement in various
dimensions and in non-Euclidean geometry, in order to develop
a system for achieving a particular design control over
informational activities. Using the topology of space-time in
String Theory and M-theory, a topology produced as an
outcome from that particular movement behavior, the research
proposes a way to handle an informational status in the
environment spatially. Such a design approach, becoming
more and more necessary in the age of the digital, opens room
not only for mere spatial variations, but also for a direction
towards new design morphology; a morphology in which
architecture obtains new spatial value reaching beyond the
label of visionary design.

11:20-11:40 Suzanne Strum, The International Architectures of the SSA and Informational Designer Knud Lonberg-Holm


Suzanne Strum is an American architect, a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture and Urban Planning in New York. She holds a Masters from the Metropolis Program in Architecture and Urban Culture, Foundation of the Polytechnique University of Catalonia and the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, where she is currently a professor as well as Head of Studies. She is a doctoral candidate at the ETSAB, UPC in the Department of Theory and Composition. She is a professor at the Elisava Design School in Barcelona and an adjunct for Texas A&M University´s architecture program in Barcelona. She has been a professor for many international programs in Barcelona, including Carleton University, Calgary University, Universidad Tecnologica de Monterrey, among others. She has been a researcher at the Mies van der Rohe Foundation. She is co-editor of Metropolis, GG and author of two books, Barcelona: A Guide to Recent Architecture, Elipsis, and Barcelona Architecture, Watermark press, as well as articles in Bauwelt and Scapes. In 2005 she was awarded a Graham Foundation grant.


This paper is concerned with Modernist information systems extending from the pre-war to postwar eras, via the little known Danish émigré architect Knud Lonberg Holm who considered himself an information architect already in the 1920´s. ie someone who organizes the patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear; who views the organization, retrieval and presentation of information as analogous to the problems in designing a building.
After arriving in the US in 1923, Lonberg-Holm expanded his connections to European vanguards, as he entered into a series of parallel professional affiliations in the US, serving as CIAM´s east coast delegate, and in 1932, joining Structural Study Associates: technocratic, anti-aesthetic architects surrounding Buckminster Fuller in the magazine Shelter: “A correlating medium for the forces of architecture”. With the motto: “To do the most with the least”, they encouraged harnessing the Forces Expressive of the Technical Age based on ephemeralization, ecology, and emergence. At the same time he became a staff member of the leading professional journal of the time, Architectural Record, with its family of publications including Sweets Catalog, an essential interface between architects, manufactures and contractors, a compendium of industrially evoluting building materials. In this context he urged city planning based on the organic functions of a community and its culturally based space organizing process. He called for the creation of an economically independent research institute to deal with problems of architecture in an industrial age, and he restructured Sweets Catalog, as an anonymous ideological project authoring a number of books on the design of information with Czech graphic designer Ladislav Sutnar.
He presented an alternative to Sweets to CIAM, a proposal for a dynamic, integrated research and information system dealing with all aspects of environmental controls that would allow for advanced productivity. “Planning for Productivity” 1940, was updated in 1953 as “Development Index: a proposed pattern for organizing and facilitating the flow of information needed by man to further in his own development with particular reference to the development of buildings, communities and other forms of environmental controls”, which offered correlations between cosmos, man and culture, closely aligned with Buckminster Fuller´s systems thinking and his vision of the comprehensive anticipatory designer as “a Harvester of potentials” outside beaurocratic systems, yet able to analyze and deploy technocracy’s products to serve the world’s needs. Lonberg Holm´s master switchboard for data flow was to be updated constantly in line with “new expansions in human knowledge”.
As a class of project that processes data and indexes knowledge, these proposals share an affinity with early modern “world” projects. As Information technologies were subject to the processes of scientific management, such projects aimed to centralize and standardize all knowledge in a single location or to unify norms for international use. The World Brain, World Encyclopedia, World Auxiliary Languages, the International System of Typographic Picture Education were put forth by such diverse figures as H.G. Wells, Paul Otlet,Otto Neurath, up to the 30´s. The Development Index might be situated between those World projects and the later more multimedia Geoscope by Fuller 1962, a floating informational globe, with constantly updated real time broadcasted data about the earth.

11:40-12:10 Maycon Sedrez, Alice Pereira, Fractal Architecture

CV 1:

Maycon Ricardo Sedrez
- Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina UFSC – Brazil
Master in Architecture and Urban Planning, 2009.
- Universidade Regional de Blumenau FURB – Brazil
Architect and Urban Planner, 2002.
- Estúdio M2 Arquitetos – Blumenau – SC – Brazil
- Instituto Brasileiro de Design de Interiores IBDI – Blumenau – SC – Brazil
Professor – Computer-Aided Design
Workshop - SEDREZ, M. R. . Arquitetura Fractal. In: XXIV Semana da Matemática, 2009,
Blumenau. XXIV Semana da Matemática.
Article - SEDREZ, M. R. ; SANTIAGO, A. G. ; PEREIRA, A. T. C. . Paisagem fractal: uma análise
da conectividade na escala humana. In: Encontro Nacional de Ensino de Paisagismo em Escolas de
Arquitetura e Urbanismo, 2008, Curitiba. 9 ENEPEA, 2008.
Article - BAIER, T. ; SEDREZ, M. R. . Uso de gráficos de funções matemáticas, construídos com
recurso computacional, na elaboração de projetos arquitetônicos: uma proposta pedagógica.. In:
XXX CNMAC - Congresso Nacional de Matemática Aplicada e Computacional, 2007,
Florianópolis. XXX CNMAC - Trabalhos e Resumos, 2007.

CV 2:

Alice T. Cybis Pereira
- Sheffield University – England
Doctor in Architecture, 1993.
- Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, UFRGS – Brazil
Architect and Urban Planner, 1982.
- Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, UFSC – Florianópolis – SC – Brazil
Book – PEREIRA, A. T. C. . Ambientes virtuais de aprendizagem em diferentes contextos. Rio de Janeiro: Ciência Moderna, 2007.
Article - DALLA VECHIA, L. F. ; PEREIRA, A. T. C. . Utilização de ambiente virtual de aprendizagem em disciplinas de projeto arquitetônico. PARC - Pesquisa em Arquitetura e Construção, v. 1 n.3., p. 1-14, 2009.
Article - SEDREZ, M. R. ; SANTIAGO, A. G. ; PEREIRA, A. T. C. . Paisagem fractal: uma análise da conectividade na escala humana. In: Encontro Nacional de Ensino de Paisagismo em Escolas de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, 2008, Curitiba. 9 ENEPEA, 2008


This article deals with the fractal geometry applied in architecture. The fractals generative rules can be used to develop the student’ shape grammar. Students use that knowledge to increase their own
shape vocabulary in the architectural design early stages.
What have the fractals to offer to contemporary architecture? Since Moving Arrows, Eros
and other Errors, 1985’ Peter Eisenman project, some architects continually have used fractal
geometry as shape design instrument. Previously architects included aspects such as fractal
recursiveness, to take an example, in an intuitively way. Nowadays some studies have pointed
appropriate models to use the potential of fractals in architecture.
This study was realized with architecture students and tried to bring the fractal geometry to
the computer-aided architectural design - CAAD. We have elaborated a content called ‘Fractal
Shape’ and it was guided to architecture, concentrating on the generative characteristics of fractals.
This content provides an overview of fractal architecture, it presents methods to use fractals in the
design process and it proposes activities to design early stages. Thus, the fractal order is explored
through generative exercises that deal with concepts of scale, recursivity, self-similarity and
The study effort is to make a clear comprehension of fractal geometry as a shape grammar,
with scale transformations, which provides generative rules. When these experiments are applied at
design early stages, it feeds the students' shape vocabulary. It is known that a good design do not
come from a moment of enlightenment. The student identifies patterns, symmetries and design
resources while playing with shapes and scales. The idea is to allow the student to develop his own
shape vocabulary well before advancing the design definition.
We develop a content that relates fractal grammar and architectural design, which we
establish through pedagogical criteria and brought to the students through on-line virtual learning.
The hypertext activities are the creation of fractals guiding regulatory frames, and then to transform
the two dimensional objects to into a three dimensional objects. To do those exercises the student
uses: elements addition and/or subtraction, shape configuration and grouping and specially the
extrusion of fractal objects viewed in plan or section. In these procedures the student selects and
creates shapes, working on ambiguous models. Then they set a proportion and a utility to the object,
in a process called scale and function emergency.
The study of a fractal shape grammar is interesting from a pedagogical point of view when it
groups the contemporary architecture content, shape grammar exercises and computer-aided
architectural design technology. Those are areas of interest of the students involved in this research.
The study of generative systems, shape grammars and design rules is a trend in architecture schools.
Students are also interested in learning contents that are close to the reality of contemporary
architecture. Finally, we understand fractal geometry as one of the tools available for the design
professor which helps to instigate the creativity of the student.

12:10-12:30 Discussion

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