Representations and Processes


This is an assignment for 4.580: Inquiry into Computation and Design by Prof. Terry Knight. We were asked to design an extension for Louis Kahn’s Richards Medical Center, and look into the relationship between process and representation.

We translated the plan into two types of components: square units and connections. We then built a program that automatically generate connections from any units layout. The appearance of a connection depended on the sizes and distance of two neighboring units. We believed the program somewhat reflected the underlying logic in Kahn’s original design, and could accommodate most possible extending scheme.


Ironically, in class, most designs submitted by the other groups could not be drawn by our program. Of course we could indicate that they do not follow the ‘true’ grammar of the original plan. After all it is impossible for such a program to accommodate any design intention. Processes are limited by the way of representation we choose. Unless we change the mechanism that machines learn and induce, they can only do things that we understand before them.

Collaborator: Ari Kardasis
Tool used: Processing

the Symbolic, the Visual, the Recursive


This is an assignment from 4.580:Inquiry into Computation and Design by Prof. Terry Knight. We were supposed to parse a design into rules that could be passed on and used to regenerate it.

We took Le Corbusier’s plan of Maison Citrohan (1927). It was crucial to which detail one chose to represent the design. We realized that by just extracting out elements from the plans, shape grammar would be very symbolic and become a shopping catalog. The recursive function and flexibility was a must in order to develop a true design tool. We ended up with a Corb automator with recursive functions but also one symbolic architecture element introduced (the stair).

In class discussion it was left an open question whether the nature of architecture is symbolic, but it seemed unlikely that limited rules can describe everything in design.

Collaborator: Joseph Choma, Siobhan Rockcastle
Tools used: Processing