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Submission Deadlines: March 1, 2017
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Simulations: Modeling, Measuring, and Disrupting Design


The simulation of physical reality is a necessary preoccupation of the architect, engineer, builder and systems specialist. For centuries, simulations have existed in the form of heuristic techniques used in establishing rules of thumb for architecture and design. These drawings, physical mock-ups, models, and other forms of mediated representations were surely satisfactory, but rarely optimal. In the twenty-first century, architecture benefits from the availability of near-immediate performance simulations executed during the design process and enabled by advanced computation software and rapid prototyping. In this context, prescriptive codes and standardization give way to hybrid models that integrate design goals, site and climate conditions, available resources, and building systems. Whether used for construction sequencing, parametric design comparisons, or structural, lighting, air flow and energy analysis, these simulations generate large amounts of complex performance data requiring a rigorous interpretation of results.

All good simulation models however, —whether made of sticks or bits—necessarily simplify in order to isolate and test relationships. Increasingly, digital simulation platforms operate as scripted add-ons, linking simulation engines to design software and embedding default values for building-based parameters. So doing, they rapidly generate performance data albeit with less user specified information. Feedback is immediate, results are plentiful, and queries are customizable, even when user expertise is limited. And while it appears the integration of data and performance in design has never been more accessible, the process is also more susceptible to false results from incorrect parameters and the blind acceptance of black box output. As we embrace the role of simulations in supporting generative design, we invite a critical evaluation of their assumptions, fidelity, limits, and potentials.

Designing increasingly smarter, integrated, and efficient systems requires a nuanced understanding of the benefits and constraints of simulations. How might we assess whether they truly result in better performing buildings? Rarely studied post construction and almost never evaluated from the perspective of end-users, how do we know if completed works of architecture actually perform to their simulated measures? What are the standards by which we might validate and establish consensus for parameters needed to construct increasingly elaborate models? How might methodologies in collateral fields inform our approaches to architectural simulations? And most critically, in what way are designers expanding the objectives of a practice historically driven by engineering economy? Beyond measuring “efficiencies”, how can simulations disrupt the process of design itself by transforming the very way in which we communicate, collaborate and legislate? And how might simulations help us define and generate improved architectural outcomes?

TAD (TECHNOLOGY | ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN) Issue 2, seeks empirical research, creative design, and critical theory manuscripts that investigate the role of simulations in the built environment. The issue aims to question the full spectrum of methodologies, models and measurement paradigms attendant to simulations of the built environment. It is equally committed to investigating the potential of this 21st century technology to disrupt the very practice of design.



Currently in Production: TAD Issue 1
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VIRAL: Information Technology as Prophet, Panacea, or Pariah?

According to Kevin Kelly, founding member of Wired magazine, technology is ubiquitous, ever present and our destiny.[1] Smart materials, performance sensors, crowdsourcing, cloud computing, robotics and drones are but a few of the emerging technologies vastly transforming the way in which buildings are designed and experienced. And yet the role these information technologies play in shaping architecture is rarely at the center of architectural thinking, criticism or design. Are architects uninterested or reluctant to address the proliferation of data-based, digitally-centered, and smart technologies that are impacting the allied fields of construction, engineering, material science, and product design? Most recently, celebrated architect Rem Koolhaas suggested the possibility of a nefarious relationship between architecture and smart technologies, stating; “There is a potentially sinister dimension to …being surrounded by a house full of sensors that can follow you on the moment of entry, to the moment you set your bedroom temperature, to the moment you set your likely return to your house.” [2] Is this seeming aversion to sensors and data points similar to that of nineteenth-century architects who neglected to consider the impact of emerging industrialized technologies of cast iron, glass, and steel; and who hesitated to acknowledge the many ways they were destined to redefine architecture? It was fifty years before architects embraced ferrous metals and sheets of plate glass in service to design, and this, only after historian Sigfried Giedion conceptualized their potential. Similarly, at the end of the twentieth century, we were slow to recognize the impact artificial environmental systems, such as air-conditioning, had on design.

In this light, VIRAL--the inaugural call for papers for TECHNOLOGY | ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN (TAD)--asks whether architecture is once again on the threshold of significant changes in the material, technical and procedural context of design. In the twenty-first century, information technologies are transforming how buildings are designed, constructed, delivered, occupied and assessed. From crowdsourcing to collective wisdom, information technology is redefining our relation to the environment and to each other. Yet, to what extent are architects, and those who educate them, actively involved in articulating a path for such technologies within their work—be it in their research, scholarship, or design work? Alternatively, to what extent are architectural educators cautious, resistant, or critical of this highly speculative engagement with barely recognizable or material forms of technology?

TAD seeks contributions from scholars, educators, designers, and architects who research, test and create using these emerging technologies and who seek to articulate and theorize the impact they will have on the built environment. The journal seeks articles that feature primary research in information technologies and their impact on materials, construction, structures, building systems, energy studies, environmental design, sustainability and resiliency, project delivery, and practice-based innovations. Papers should advance scholarship with a focus on the impact, translation and integration of technology in architecture and design.

[1] Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants, Viking Press, 2010
[2] Published in Dezeen - sacrifice-privacy-totally-astonishing/

TAD the Journal of Technology, Architecture, and Design © 2016