The concept of nature lies in its structure of processes, organisms keep an homeostatic balance in response to the continuous changes in the environment, a non-linear network where everyone interacts with everyone else, all at the same time. The basis of these processes is the control over the information flow, exchange and interplay among the organisms and between them and their environment. Adaption and self-regulation happen perpetually during the life cycle, while environmental pressure cause a selection in populations that produce an evolution in future generations.
In order to approach an architectural design that goes beyond the static definition of sustainability and engages a more natural relation with the environment in order to create a synthetic ecology (synthetic is used to indicate what is built and differentiate it from what naturally grows; the concept of “artificial” as opposed to “natural” is a mind abstraction, synthetic is not synonymous of artificial), the starting point is to build a pervasive information model of the environment. Environment is here intended not only under its physical intensive data (temperature, wind, solar radiation absorption, …) but as the set of conditions and pressures (physical, cultural, social, ediphic) that influence the habitat and architectural performative behaviors at different scales (macro and micro).
From punctual survey or simulation via specific software, the collected information is then extrapolated to continuous data fields throughout the considered area and its related surroundings.
Architecture then will be studied as the open result of the modulated response to these environmental conditions at different scales. Open design strategies will be applied in a process of selection over a population of options in order to pursue a wide range of student’s chosen specific efficient design. Final results, depending on the chosen strategy for the project, will be closer or farther to the actual architectural, building and production system, thus hopefully depicting a gradient of opportunities.
Aim of the course therefore is not scrutinize a specific and strict range of conditions but to introduce students to a design process through population and selection, where, just like in nature, forms find their possible functions. More to that extent, project will engage and negotiate their relation with the territory in order to produce architectural outcomes as much as possible compromised with reality.

_ Alessio


: : 01. diagrams

“Let us go back to the map and the territory and ask: "What is it in the territory that gets onto the map?" We know the territory does not get onto the map. That is the central point about which we here are all agreed. Now, if the territory were uniform, nothing would get onto the map except its boundaries, which are the points at which it ceases to be uniform against some large matrix. What gets onto the map, in fact, is difference, be it a difference in altitude, a difference in vegetation, a difference in population structure, difference in surface, or whatever. Differences are the things that get onto a map.

But what is a difference? A difference is a very peculiar and obscure concept. It is certainly not a thing or an event. This piece of paper is different from the wood of this lectern. There are many differences between them—of color, texture, shape, etc. But if we start to ask about the localization of those differences, we get into trouble. Obviously the difference between the paper and the wood is not in the paper; it is obviously not in the wood; it is obviously not in the space between them, and it is obviously not in the time between them. (Difference which occurs across time is what we call "change.")

A difference, then, is an abstract matter.”

Gregory Bateson, Form Substance and Difference, from Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972

“Writing on information theory, Gregory Bateson defines a map itself not as a territory but as the establishment of difference that defines territories. The diagram, when used properly and productively, behaves in a similar way, as an abstract gradient defining a range of difference. Like the projection of various systems of content onto the same map, there is a potential in “the difference that makes a difference”. This difference is not automatically produced as an inherent feature of the map but is the result of value judgments.”

Reiser+Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics, Princeton Architectural press, ch.54

After a period spent collecting and sharing data among themselves, students individually began to select, sort and organize them in order to produce what is intended above in the definition of diagram: a gradient field of intensive forces operating on the territory. Diagrams will be used throughout the whole lab period as an operating tool in the definition of projects, according to a multiplicity of approaches.

Here below are some examples of how students formulated their diagrams.

Michele Semeghini (ST, vegetation mass & wind):

Matteo Tosi (PC, vegetation species network & CO2 absorption):

Leandro Robutti (ST, photosynthesis & oxigen volumes):

Daria Zacchini (ST, vegetation species network):

Lucia Mondardini (PC, acoustic mapping):

Andrea Romano (PC, acoustic Mapping & direct radiation mapping):