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Project Type: Research Project
Accounts of the origin and history of anything architectural are frequently partial and interested; extreme cases do away completely with history in favour of a rhetoric of technological progress, which based on newness and originality, promote an indifference and even concealment of historical precedents. The relatively short history of computers in architecture has accordingly been erased and re-written to suit the arguments of whoever is contending or disputing their use. As a result, our views on the developments of computers in architecture are strongly biased by the myths, discourses and politics acting within the discipline.
It is not my intention to offer a more objective or critical perspective on these developments, but rather to amplify some negelcted aspects potentially relevant for contemporary architectural practice and theory. I intend to look at the first uses of computers to represent architecture during the sixties and seventies, particularly in the work developed at the LUBFS at Cambridge University, and at the Architecture Machine Group at MIT. In the techniques used and proposed at these research centres we can recognise the play of central to architectural themes, such as architecture's disciplinary autonomy or the authority of the architect: from the relations between early computational models and the formalism associated with Colin Rowe, Rudolf Wittkower and the Warburg Institute, for example, to the correspondence between what Bernard Rudofsky called an "Architecture Without Architects" and self-organised cybernetic design processes.
In conclusion, the intention of this report is to rescue from historical and disciplinary margins forms of digital representations that can contribute to contemporary architectural education and practice. By promoting some theoretical connections and by explaining the historical origin of their often complex dispositions, the intention is to both enable links to contemporary practices and to historically contextualise some of their shortcomings.
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