Focus Artistic Research

Agent based Parametric Semiology

Patrik Schumacher

Institute of Architecture
Architecture and urbanism order social processes via their semantic associations as much as via physical separation and connection. The built environment functions through its visual appearance, via its legibility and its related capacity to frame and prime communication. The built environment is not just channelling bodies. It is orienting sentient, socialized beings who must actively comprehend and navigate ever more complex urban scenes. As a communicative frame, a designed space is itself a communication as premise for all communications that take place within its territory.

In a conventional design process, every designer adapts to and intervenes intuitively within the spontaneous and historically evolving semiological system of the built environment. The aim of agent based parametric semiology is it to move from an intuitive participation within an evolving semiosis to an explicit design agenda that understands the design of a large scale architectural complex as an opportunity to design a new, coherent system of signification, a new artificial architectural language, without relying on the familiar codes found in the existing built environments.

To operationalize the semantic layer of the designed environment within the design process the research proposes to develop agent based life process simulations. The semiological code is defined in terms of the agents’ behavioural rules or scripts being triggered by designed environmental features. This is the most original innovation within the proposed research project. The aim of the research project is to develop new computational simulation capacities and thus a new approach to architectural design that better engages with the opportunities and challenges of today's networked society and which might lead to a new compelling type of architectural service that can meet the aspirations of contemporary clients.

Collaborating with leading experts in the field of crowd simulation, as well as in structural and environmental optimization, the research involves the development of a new approach, setting a new task, developing new tools. The research culminates in exemplary creative design works that demonstrate the capacity and potential impact of the new approach on contemporary architectural and urban design. This research project is thus at the same time an artistic project, a form of research by design.

The research project will be headed by Patrik Schumacher, a leading figure in the fields of parametric design and architectural design research. Schumacher will be leading a team of distinguished researchers, who each can look back on a proven track record of academic research and experimental digital design practice, focusing on advanced scripting techniques, digital formal experimentation and the understanding of our built environment as an interface for interaction with
its users.