The real test of data-driven architecture


(I wrote this little rant on my tumblr, but I thought why not cross post it here, in case someone’s still checking this blog out)

Suppose you have modelled the incomprehensibly complex processes and gathered all the required data to reliably model the life cycle environmental and social impact of your building. Then you run the simulation and anxiously wait for the program to give the answer.

And the optimal solution is a boring ordinary box.

Or no building at all.

Will you stand by it?

Or more importantly, will your client and the authorities stand by it? You show them the result. But it’s just an ordinary box! You were supposed to create an innovative, novel optimal solution! But, you show them the graphs, the methods, the data. This is the input and this is the output.

No, they won’t hear you. They have no time for the technical stuff. If the result of your patient and diligent research doesn’t look sexy, then fuck it. They want something that looks innovative. That’s why they hired you in the first place.

You bite your tongue, spit to the ground, rewrite the program removing most of the variables until you get a funny looking spider-webby nano-material blob or a picturesque clustering of primitive huts. Yes, that looks futuristic. That looks ecological. That’s good for publicity. And what’s good for publicity is good for business.

And what’s good for business is good for everybody.

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