autotectonics: what why and how

Autotectonics is the art and science of designing and creating self-generating, self-organizing and self-sustaining systems interacting and evolving with the users in conjunction with the natural forces of the environment and enabled by massive computer power and artificial intelligence. It is a radical re-think of architecture, not a new style, but a new approach to the way that we design our future built environment. As with all new disciplines it requires new roles, new tools, new social and political attitudes, and new economic and educational models.

The urgent need for such a radical reappraisal of our design culture is driven by the impending environmental, political and social crisis that urgently faces the planet as a result of unbridled energy consumption. The largest industry in the world is construction, consuming 50% of the world’s energy in building, demolition, heating, cooling, lighting and power. As global concerns about energy compound there is an increasing requirement for the design of new energy efficient buildings that are socially responsible in construction and operation and arise out of a design and planning process that engages people. Autotectonics is a proposal for how we might urgently address these most pressing issues and proposed new roles for the designer and client, and new relationships with nature and the computer.

Accelerating Architecture: The Art and Science of Autotectonics

The environmental and social imperatives for a self-organizing architecture: Defining new roles for the Citizen, the Architect, Construction, the Computer and the Environment

Recorded as a series of five lectures over one week at the first Invisible University Christmas Lecture Series in December 2005, Westminster, London. Video recordings directed and edited by Alison McCloskey. Lecture series organized by Samantha Hardingham of the Invisible University.

Day 1: Autotectonics  and The Citizen’s Tale
The view from space, need for acceleration, environmental and social imperatives, computer as an agent for acceleration, the voice of the citizen and user, participation, empowering tools self-build and self-design, intelligent buildings, Groningen experiment and citizen interaction, need for autonomy and flexibility, interaction and tangible thinking, Autotectonics and the evolutionary analogy.
Day 2: The Architect’s Tale
The decline of the master-builder, the fall of the architect, two kinds of theory, theory books and pattern books, generic design, the electronic craftsman and digital fabrication, the biological analogy seeds/growth/evolution, design of complex systems, need for education to change.

Day 3: The Building’s Tale
Problems and inefficiency with the present commission/design/construction process, inefficiency computerizing the wrong part of the process, environmental performance, off site fabrication, problems with kit of parts mentality mass customization, virtual prototyping, robotic assembly, responsive structures, active design tools.
Day 4: The Computer’s Tale
Past failures of CAD and dangers of uncritical approach, active rather than passive computing, globalised and co-operative tools, generative and evolutionary techniques, cellular automat and genetic algorithms, mapping and representation, cybernetics and systems theory, post-digital environment.
Day 5:  The Environment’s Tale  and The Integrated Model
Ecologically responsible design, building performance, the model from nature, autonomy, evolution and development, architectural DNA, architecture as an artificial life form. Conclusions: Alternative approaches, the integrated model, the autotectonic process, new attitudes, new forms of design education.