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Contemporary architecture & digital design process


In recent decades, new methodologies have emerged in architecture design that exploit the computer as a design tool. This has generated a different set of digital skills and a new type of architecture knowledge.

In 1963, Ivan Sutherland’s sketchpad program demonstrated that computers could be used for drafting and modelling. By the mid-1990s, architectural practice without graphics software h became unimaginable.
Digital technologies have enabled new methods of design, which  have led to a re-examination of current design theories and educational concepts. This means that architecture is taking part in an intellectual revolution that is happening all around us. Computational thinking is influencing research in nearly all disciplines. Since the 1950s, successive modifications of research have resulted.
As a result, over the past decade, systemic notions and concepts from science have diffused into architecture discourse and are currently being explored for design purposes

Levels of design computability
There are three major levels of computational usages that can be defied as levels of design computability: Representational, parametric and algorithmic.
Representational level: characterized by the computational usage  mainly as an electronic drawing tool. An example for  this application is Kunsthaus Graz by Peter Cook and Colin Fournier. The computer was used to enable the activation of a geometric language that could not otherwise be controlled easily. On a representational level, there is no real perception of the computational nature that governs the digital environment. Rather, the design process is still in line with the visual reasoning of a conventional paper-based design approach.
Parametric level: is a paradigm in design where the relationship between elements are used to manipulate and inform the design of complex geometries and structures. The term parametric originates from mathematics and refers to the use of certain parameters or variables that can be edited to manipulate the end result of an equation or system. The consideration of changing forces such as climate, setting, culture and use has always formed part of the design process. An example of this application is Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart by UN studio.
Algorithmic level: the focus is on the development of the computational design’s logic, that is, a sequence of algebraic, analytic and geometric operations for the manipulation of data and its translation into architecture properties.

Digital design models
The computer is not a neutral tool, but rather is actively shaping the way designers are approaching the question of design. For example, CAD models are descriptive by employing various geometrical modelling and rendering software, but have little qualitative effect on design thinking and are essentially isomorphic with paper-based design methods. Therefore, CAD models depict methods of digital design on a level of representational computability.

Various contemporary methodologies can be subsumed and compared under the concept of computability and the related concept of levels of digital computability levels .

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