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Pacific BIM: a mutually interruptible neural bridge

I’m hoping to do some teaching next year at Birmingham School of Architecture. Of the many topics that I’d like to include in any brief set for the students, I think it will be important to include a discussion about Building Information Modeling. I like a pencil as much as the next guy, but BIM is the future career path that students are now facing. Fact.

However, rather than it simply become a review of BIM as described by standards such as PAS 1192, a debate about what LOD you might strive for, whether we have achieved the ethereal heights of Level 3 or any other similar acronym soaked document, I’d prefer it if we looked at it through the eyes of Nicholas Negroponte and Guillermo del Toro.

Excerpts from The Architecture Machine, Nicholas Negroponte (1970) – PDF copy here:

“In this book there is no distinction between hardware and software, between special purpose computers and general purpose computers. The lines between what has been done, what can be done, and what might be done are all fuzzy. Our interest is simply to preface and to encourage a machine intelligence that stimulates a design for the good life and allow for a full set of improving methods. We are talking about a symbiosis that is a cohabitation between two intelligent species.”

“Imagine a machine that can follow your design methodology and at the same time discern and assimilate your conversational idiosyncrasies. This same machine, after observing your behaviour, could build a predictive model of your conversational performance. Such a machine could then reinforce the dialogue by using the predictive model to respond to you in a manner that is in rhythm with your personal behaviour and conversational idiosyncracies.”

“Computer-aided-ness demands a dialogue; events cannot be merely a fast-time manifestation of causes and effects… Computer-aided design requires at least three additional features: (1) mutual interruptability for man and machine, (2) local and dedicated computing power within the terminal, and (3) a machine intelligence.”

“Machines that poll information from many designers and inhabitants, directly view the real world, and have a congenial dialogue with one specific designer are architecture machines. They hint at being intelligent machines.”

Excerpts from Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro (2013)

I’d like to hear more discussion about how technology changes the process of drawing and making the built environment, rather than just what it can achieve once the work is complete. Decades of augmented reality debate has focused on the layering of data over the surface of finished buildings and spaces, but not how that data might have been better woven into the process of drawing and modeling it in the first place. I don’t think Schumacher’s Parametricism counts. I want to hear about the relationship between the machine and the architect in the visceral, physical, painful way del Toro describes it above. I want my design Mecha to do battle with my client’s Keiju.

I want a mutually interruptible neural bridge. Now that we’ve lost Iain Banks and The Culture I fear I’ll have to make do with Google Glass instead.

Why isn’t anyone talking about what it’s like to draw while wearing Google Glass? After all, if I only wear it when looking at my sketchbook I might be less of a Glasshole.

Posted by on July 4, 2013.

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Categories: CAD, cinema, drawing, scifi, theory, video

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My name is Rob Annable. I’m an architect, a father, a husband, a rock climber, a blogger and wannabe geek. Although not necessarily in that order. I’m a director at Axis Design Architects. We’re architects and urban designers in Birmingham, UK. We mostly make housing  and we are leaders in the field of online methods […]more →

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