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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Undergraduate Course: Digital Ecologies (ARCH10021)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical technologies that underpin digital generative systems. the advent of ubiquitous computing including the streaming of data from all aspects of the natural and built environment, coupled with contemporary programming and visualisation technologies, offers a context in which architects and designers can begin to design new architectures within the context of collections of large data sets also known as "Big Data". While keeping in mind that data differs from knowledge, the course will focus on the raw measures of our environment as a series of non-organised structures and chaotic contingencies. The course is focussed on the study of systems in our environment. We will narrow these systems as a sum of data and information in order to question any gradual rise of order out of chaos. the aim of the course is to develop autopoietic machines as a network of processes that respond to environmental conditions whilst also continuously feeding back to this environment. the final machines may manifest themselves as digital, physical or hybrids. the course is delivered through a combination of lectures and directed workshops. the series of theorectical lectures encompass architectures long held fascination with complex systems, machines and the environments. The workshops will offer support in the development of digital representational tools and approaches to visual programming with Grasshopper for Rhino 3D. Tutorials will support the synthesis of the theory into practice and ultimately the development of machines in response to the brief. the course content will be presented by the course organisers as well as invited speakers and practitioners. At mid-point during the semester, students will present their progress in terms of sensing the environment in order to progress to the fabrication of their machines.
Course description Week 1: Introduction to Digital Ecology

Week 2: Understanding our environment. Choosing a site & establishing a data collection framework

Week 3: Introduction to live sensors & xml data streams

Week 4: Data stream workshop 1 - Data collection with grasshopper for Rhino 3D

Week 5: Data Stream workshop 2 - Data manifestation with grasshopper for Rhino 3D

Week 6: Interim Review - Critical review of data sets

Week 7: Introduction to the concept of machine

Week 8: Machine production workshop 1 - Actuators & reactive systems

Week 9: Machine production workshop 2 - Data-based behaviours

Week 10: Machine production workshop 3 - Emergent properties

Week 11: Exam Week - Review of machines and associated reports (1000 words)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate the understanding of the conditions of a site through collecting a set of live measured data
  2. Demonstrate the ability to use the data as a live generative design process
  3. Apply key techniques to demonstrate an understanding of the responsive and behavioural aspect of design
Reading List
John Frazer: An evolutionary Architecture, Architectural Association Publications (Jan 1995), ISBN-10: 1870890477

Gregory Bateson: Steps to an Ecology of Mind; Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution and Epistemology (23 May 2000) University of Chicago Press, New Edition

LJ Gibson, MF Ashby and BA Harley: Cellular Materials in Nature and Medicine, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge) 2010

Rudolf Finsterwalder: Forms follows Nature, Springer Vienna Architecture; 1st Edition (November 1 2011)

Otto, Frei, Finding Form, Edition Axel Menges, Berlin 1995

E. Gabriella Coleman: Coding freedom; The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (Princeton University Press - 12 Nov 2012) ISBN-10:0691144613

Valentino Braitenberg: Vehicles; Experiments in Synthetic Psychology (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986) ISBN 0262521121

Patrik Schumacher: The Autopoiesis of Architecture, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, London 2010
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEnvironment, Systems, Computation, Data, Fabrication
Course organiserMr Pierre Forissier
Course secretaryMs Fiona Binning
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