Omnipresent Models?

Spatial construction governs the field of architecture; invention of atmospheres and their translation a medium that stimulates the senses of the users, drives the profession. Inherent in this motivation is the need for a communication tool that at one end provides a passage for explorations and also delivers the desired ambience without limiting the expanse of imagination.

Models in architectural design play an imperative role, by virtue of their existence in various forms and sizes. “Objects such as houses or artworks are one variety, but we also find models of engagement, models of perception and reflection. Then there are analogue and digital models, models of thought and other experiments that add up to a model of a situation.”

Models are understood and utilised in varied ways: as interpretations, representations, systems determined by the intuition of the designer, imitations. maybe even reality as some like Olafur Eliasson claim. Operating within any of the brackets mentioned above, they guide experiments, generate arguments, and formulate questions. “Models provide both the rigorous, objective and identifiably relevant proofs of concept that working with matter requires and the facility with cultural, political, and historical discourses that make architecture relevant in the first place. ”

In my opinion, models essentially operate at two levels. First, a metaphor, which acts as an association and interpretation, fluidly linking the design ideas and augmenting an estimated approach. “Metaphor is an image that gives concrete coherence to even highly abstract thought.”3 Second, models perform as assistants in translating the structured thoughts and scrutinised systems into tangible constructs (implying physical outputs, but I am hesitant in stating the same as I might be disregarding another obvious possibility). However, both metaphors and assistants are sequential stages of designing. Algorithms and protocols that are borrowed from metaphorical origins, curated for desired direction and then replicated, objectified and hence simplified for production, marry the two phases.

Role played — Metaphors: Architectural portfolios are personal cabinets Of wonder, filled with taxonomy of shells, crystal lattices, helices, and vortexes. Studies of dragonfly wings and sedimentation patterns creep into diagrid proposals for terminal skin and roof structures. L- systems are bootlegged into designs of social housing; the sloughed skin of diamond-bucks and tortoises become planting patterns. “Nature’s grand chambers have become architects gritty chop-shops.”

The creation of novel models, which in the current era may be sophisticated computational models to overcome the simple descriptive models, is difficult and seldom successful and this feeds the temptation of falling back to other disciplines for inspiration. The architectural market is bullish for scientific metaphors, though this is not a new phenomenon. From Vitruvius’ acanthus leaves and smeared animal intestines to Laugier’s primitive mythological A-frames and tree branch revelations, from Alto’s Finnish fixation with telephone networks to Wright’s vigilant stake in organicism, from Joseph Paxton’s Regia Lillie lattices to Frei Otto’s stunning collection of diatoms, radiolarians, bamboo and soap films, and Utzon’s Sydney orange peels and flock of seagull wings to Aranda/Lasch’s flocking recipes, designers relish the sale of scientific metaphors.

The field is wise to its fetish for science. The abstract conciseness or the aspects that define the relevance within a context. Similarly, the assessment of aesthetics might be based on past stylistic parameters or historic semantics rather than aspects that embrace “the inner structure of the epoch out of which they arise. ”

The diagram also illustrates the decisions at hand, possible choices for the desired aesthetic. The reason one would choose A over its complement F or something in between like D, is dependent on the intuition and the goal of the designer.

The rules, the recipes, the algorithms are nothing to architecture but interesting patterns, that is, until the designer transforms these generative systems into architecture.

 Role Played — Building Assistants: As mentioned before, drawing clues from the natural occurrences is the first stage towards creating intensive architecture. Another stage where the utility of models cannot be undermined is the metamorphosis from abstract yet controllable rules into perceivable built environments.

The crisis of the model in the era where computational design in the first place led designers to accentuate (the word chosen acknowledges that the referencing has always existed) their dependency on allied or non-allied fields for pursuits. Upon discussing this case in detail, a case is presented where the ball rolls back to the realm of computation to pull the metaphors through and make them cross the Atlantic.