A Process for Developing Complex Adaptive Systems.
Engaging architecture as an emergent, complex system, this paper examines the implementation of a critical design approach -- the Seeding Sequence -- in two diametrically different studio courses: A 5th year Integrative Design and a 1st year Beginning Design one. Drawing from a Systems Thinking approach to understanding relationships, this critical design approach trades the designer’s impulse for formal control and fixation of the architectural object for one of a complex adaptive system. Framed against three past pedagogical approaches to beginning design, the Seeding Sequence process guides the students to work in a recursive cycle between two competing modes and scales of investigation: a modeling method that revels in the detail and a drawing method which considers the context. The Seeding Sequence moves beyond procedural actions by requiring a level of abstraction between the two methods. This paper presents the process, final results, and selective answers from the students’ evaluation from both studios this paper concludes by discusses the effects of this design process on three aspects of the students’ work: 1) withholding the ability to preconceive the result. 2) framing one methods of investigation against the strengths of another. 3) establishing direct connections between the design decisions and the unique attributes of the materials, program, and site of the project. This paper concludes by critiquing that the specific methods of investigation are selected to challenge the skill level of the students and the resolution of architectural design thinking required by the course. But more importantly, the pairing of two methods -- specifically two with dramatically different benefits and outcomes -- establishes an awareness in the student to actively question what each new method brings to their design process.