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Trans-co-design in systemic approach to architectural performance: The multi-layered media and agency in creative design and its processes

Davidova, Marie (2018) Trans-co-design in systemic approach to architectural performance: The multi-layered media and agency in creative design and its processes. In: Proceedings of RSD7, Relating Systems Thinking and Design 7, 23-26 Oct 2018, Turin, Italy.


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Based on several research by design cases, the paper aims to conclude the mix of diverse media in reference to diverse generative agency in Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance design field. In this field, the design processes and design’s performances are seen as the ‘resulting design objects’. Therefore, the agency involved in both is merged and proceeds parallel within one co-performative eco-system in its fight for Post-Anthropocene. SAAP is a fusion of several process based fields and their media, involving namely:

• ‘Systems Oriented Design’
• ‘Performance Oriented Architecture’
• ‘Prototypical Urban Interventions’
• ‘Time-Based Design’
• ‘Service Design’
• ‘Co-Design, Co-Creation and DIY’

The direction of media mix and time-based design in creative digital design techniques was suggested by Sevaldson already in 2005 (Sevaldson, 2005). However, this new approach contributes to the field by assigning the diverse media to particular biotic and abiotic agency, including trans-disciplinary human co-design participation. This involves: a) the complexity diagramming – a manual analogue and digital tool from Systems Oriented Design (SOD) called GIGA-Mapping, the most designerly way to deal with systems (Sevaldson, 2013), b) digital modelling and c) its full scale prototyping and namely, d) all the performances of all the above mentioned, generated in time. The last ones appear through i.e. airflow, relative humidity, temperature; species such as algae, lichen, butterflies or bumblebees; material properties; or through human trans-disciplinary co-designers, such as general public, landscape ecologists, coders, architects and so on. Therefore, there is a shift from what architectural profession used to be perceived. As a designer, you can only interact with the system, not designing it. Through this interaction, you can co-design and therefore re-design the (eco)system.

Through the properties of the active agency within the co-design are also defined their creative design tools. Therefore, the performances take multiple layers, such as synergy of natural, social and cultural defined in Performance Oriented Architecture by Hensel (Hensel, 2010). Here it involves namely creative trans-disciplinary and trans-social, biological, material, climatic, mechanical or digital performances.

For example, within human speculative co-design some disciplines or public relate better to drawing or image relations’ connections, the others to physical modelling or prototyping or combinations of all. This needs to be at first point grounded by physical GIGA-Mapping to find the relations of the natural, social and cultural data, thoughts, understandings and speculations. The physical maps can be further on translated to digital maps and digital modelling simulations and afterwards printed and fabricated to meet physical interaction again. This feedback looping interaction is however simultaneously co-designed with the other kinds of agency. The prototype’s performance is co-generated by i.e. relative humidity, temperature, their material properties and organisms that appear in its adjacent environment or directly settles on prototypes. Therefore, the design processes appear to be multi-layered in relation with multiple agency and mixing digital with analogue, biotic with abiotic. The paper exemplifies these processes on several different cases of ‘responsive wood’ (Hensel & Menges, 2006) projects.

The projects focus on trans-disciplinary multi-layered, analogue and digital, collaborative design processes grounded in GIGA-Mapping for prototypes generation. The two are placed to public and natural environment complexity for its interaction. This interaction is engaging co-living and co-creation across the particular urban landscape eco-system and interpretation through multi-genre performers and visitors of its festival EnviroCity. While doing so, the real time performance and its reflection for future project’s stages is co-designed. Though the GIGA-Map serves as a complexity and present prototype’s observation discussion board for reflection, the prototypes serve for environmental material embodied tacit interaction, experience and observation. Being inside these design processes, this project represents Sweeting’s discussion on what can design research practice give to second order cybernetics (Sweeting, 2016).

Some of the prototyping and mapping projects focus more on detailed, other than human, environmental interaction development and its prototypical observation. This is followed by architectural application speculations and its referential studies on traditional architectures (see Figure 1). While the development of the first and very early research stage prototype is followed by GIGA-Mapping of its environmental interactions speculations supported by sampling, the prototyping research takes four feedback-looping paths that are however interconnected with the other two projects:

a) long term first prototype observations when exposed to environmental settings;
b) observations of related traditional architectures;
c) the new prototype development based on condemned weaknesses of the first prototype
d) observations of related traditional architectures and both of the prototypes for planned practice application.

Through the long-term prototypical observation, the development of climate-material interaction and related biotic agency is taking place in time when it is co-designed by the mentioned. In the same time, the new prototype that is trying to answer firstly observed weaknesses is built and observed again. This is within the same time confronted with related historical references of possible applications (see Figure 1) to lead to the planned use in practice. This ‘bottom up approach’ of prototyping is followed by ‘top down’ practice applications speculations and traditional architecture references from extreme climates observations in reference to ‘adaptation to climate change in our location’ (Czech Republic Ministry of the Environment & Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, 2015).

The studies led to focus on eco-systemic service design through performative eco-systemic ‘prototypical urban interventions’ (Doherty, 2005). Such approach is gaining from collective trans-disciplinary knowledge gathered through multiple stakeholders with co-design GIGA-Mapping. One of the key intervention is responsive wood insect hotel TreeHugger, parasitting on a tree trunk in the middle of a central urban eco-top. TreeHugger is a small object. However, it is applying detailed climate moderation solution through responsive wood concept for variety of insect species’ needs to create their liveable and/or preferred environment. These, in reference to the larger eco-systemic chain are to generate ‘edible landscape’ (Creasy, 2004) for i.e. bats and birds, while another fast food of blossoming plants seed bombs is generated for these insects to become a food. All this is integrated through the multi-genre festival EnviroCity, representing the synergy of natural, social and cultural environment with its generative agendas of recipes for DIY. Therefore, the project on architectural sustainable solution has transformed to the sustainable solution for eco-systems. It is not only bringing solutions through habitation but also through sustainable eco-system of co-living with nutrients resources, the environment of ‘flourishing for all’ (Ehrenfeld & Hoffman, 2013).

The full scale prototyping in reference to co-design process was largely discussed by Capjon (Capjon, 2005). However here, these processes are perceived as a ‘results’ that are co-designed with overall eco-system in time. The field calls for the shift from ‘Cities for People’ (Gehl, 2010) towards the participation of both, biotic and abiotic agency into one co-performative eco-system, the ‘Real Life Laboratory’ (Davidová, Pánek, & Pánková, 2018). This is supported through using the key concept SOD tools such as ‘Rich Design Research Space’, discussing the social and spatial parameters (Sevaldson, 2008) and GIGA-Mapping, that in this case, serves as a co-design communication and complexity relations mapping tool that is indivisible from prototypical performance and ‘resulting’ observations, reflections and co-design.

The paper concludes with that there is a necessity of mixing analogue and digital processes based on the involved agency and its position in time and these need to be multi-layered. This is mainly achieved through hands on reflective Research by Design, investigating the ‘eco-systemic prototypical urban interventions’(Davidová & Prokop, 2018), their related historical prototypes studies and their DIY iterations. Therefore, within the field of ‘Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance’ (Davidová, 2017), the design management, the methodology, the collaborative design processes, the design’s physical results and their collaborative performances are fused in one Time Based Eco-systemic Trans-Co-Design. These processes therefore generate the concept of ‘ecological urbanism’ defined by Mostafavi and Doherty (Mostafavi & Doherty, 2016).

Item Type: Conference/Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: trans-co-design, systemic approach to architectural performance, eco-systemic agency, systems oriented design, time-based design, performance-oriented design, eco-systemic urban interventions, co-design, co-creation, DIY, non-anthropocentric eco-systemic services
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Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2019 14:12
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 16:09
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/2741

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