May 12, 2008

the rule of six

Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch’s Tooling, from Princeton Architectural Press, expands on Wilson Bentley’s studies of snowflakes to propose a method for architectural design. Bentley was fascinated and exasperated by the complexity — no two alike — that arose from the combination of an ice crystal’s six sides, “the cloud it came from, its altitude, electromagnetism, and temperature, as well as the rules inherent to the water molecule”. Expanding on this principle, Arand and Lasch apply algorithms to the architectural process.

The term algorithm simply means a series of steps. Today, as modeling, representation, and fabrication technologies shift from manual to automated processes, this issue of algorithm is pressing precisely because it confronts the design of procedures themselves. To illustrate this, all algorithmic techniques in Tooling are presented alongside 1) a recipe, 2) shapes made by that recipe, 3) a project that uses that recipe within an architectural context, and finally, 4) programmatic computer code making these recipes available to the widest possible audience.