DIGITAL – The ‘Digital’ in Architecture and Design
The digital is of course part and parcel of the technological transformations that sweep through all aspects of our civilisation impacting and indeed upgrading our lives via the digitalisation of all products, services and professional disciplines. The digital in architecture is thus inevitable, must be understood, embraced and push forward. That this has to be explicitly emphasized in the year 2019 is rather sad and alarming. Where is the architectural equivalent of the thriving research plus business eco-systems of FinTech, HealthTech, and LawTech in terms of the integration of Big Data and AI? Perhaps BIM comes closest, but concerns construction rather than design.
My focus will here be on the discipline’s acquisition of new, sui generis design capacities in distinction to the mere automation of prior ways of design, i.e. mere digital drafting or mere visualisation is not of interest here. A truly transformative ambition has been the hallmark of the avant-garde’s investment into the digital from its beginnings 25 years ago. The new digitally empowered design capacities and repertoires that have since been elaborated imply indeed a new characteristic architectural language, and have manifested a new style with epochal ambitions: Parametricsimi.
The built environment must progress in step with the progress of society. It is therefore the task of the avant-garde segment of the academic discipline and profession of architecture to theorize and explore how best to guide the development of the built environment in ways that are congenial to the opportunities and challenges of societal development at the frontier of progress, largely induced by the convergence of computation and tele-communication we summarize here under the heading of ‘the digital’. What characterizes the related current socio-economic transformation is the shift from an economy based on mechanical mass production to an economy of scope based on robotic fabrication and web-based services that can afford incomparably higher rates of innovations.