Category Archives: Hriday Siddarth Saini

The Two Intelligent Machines

man and the machine

man and the machine
courtesy :


Author : Nicholas Negroponte

Year: 1969

Towards a Theory of Architecture Machines is an argument presented by Nicolas Negroponte about the optimised solutions that can be achieved between man and the machine.

 The man and the machine…

In the opening part of his discussion the author tries to establish the point that the scale of the architectural projects will invariably define and decide the outcome and also the kind of challenges and situations that the designer will be encountering. The complexities of large-scale projects and the trivialness of problems in the small-scale works will restrict the exposure of the projects to the skills of the design profession. This is where the author believes the assistance of machines to the designers will help in the removal of drudgery from the work and the architect or designer can concentrate on innovations and optimisations.

The author emphasizes on a scenario where the machine is not only a mere tool to take away the repetitive tasks from the designers schedule but also an assistance in analyzing and mapping the vast amount of information and provides solutions. The use of this assistance from the machine also comes with a word of caution. The writer believes that if the machines are not evolving to make themselves more adoptable and relevant the results could end up in propagating bad architecture. The challenge here would be to understand if the machine could deduce response from a host of data.

The Learning and seeing machine…

As a continuation to his argument the author talks about an intelligent machines. He translates the process of architectural design if done by an architect and in a very metaphorical manner changes the various steps involved into various components that are required in an architectural machine. A Heuristic mechanism helps in streamlining the process of finding solutions. The rote apparatus memorizes the situations and stores there solutions for use if a similar situation arises. A conditional mechanism enforces and handles all the non-exceptional data. It responds to habituated situations without any effort saving both time and energy. The reward mechanism analysis the pros and cons and provided the designer with the optimized solutions. The forgetting convenience enables the machine to discard the obsolete and irrelevant data and keep evolving.

Illustrating further on the machines sensory aspect of vision the parallels are drawn equating vision with the interface between the machine and the information environment. The author here explains his analogy of the properties he believes are necessary in a machine to have the image of the designer and to be able to deliver the optimized solution. This is again a process of design analysis that is equated to the machine properties. The event, which can be a command or information received by the machine. The manifestation is the process of measuring and recording the information and data as per the set parameters. Representation is the ability of the machine to comprehend and map the received information for use if the others.

“Habits, not thoughts, assist the humans to surmount daily obstacles”…

In the discussion the writers stress in change of habits and practices to the more evolved technology in order to achieve the best and the most optimized solutions. Considering the fact that the article was written in 1969 it is actually understandable that the author could foresee the change that was going to happen or imagine the use and advances of technology in assisting human lives. With the changes and advances in technology that we come across everyday its can be believed that the part of author’s narrative where he envisions the machine as a thinking identity can indeed be a reality not in the very distant future. But the use of such assistance as would bring in the larger questions. If the machine starts to learn and deliver solutions and solve problems with who would like the authorship or the intellectual rights of the solutions, the man or the machine? The problem would also lie in understanding if the thinking ability of artificial intelligence of the machine can be trusted with providing the optimized solutions considering the fact that machines cannot be held accountable in case of a non-competence.

How far can the use of machines be stretched? Should the machines be assisting the human brain or allowed to partner the humans in obtaining optimised solutions?

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Philippe Rahm-Form and function follow climate



Sustainable development!!!

Sustainable development as a term and practice has been a part of the colloquial diction of current day architecture. As righty quoted and explained in the passage sustainable development is “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  The theory that is explained in the introductory part of the passage is that the results of growing awareness and inclination towards sustainable development may be less visible, than in architecture, which is a byproduct of evolving digital technologies and new materials.

The concepts of sustainable development, described by the author as “space and energy management”, are the factors, which are politically, and socially critical, along with being architecturally important.

Form, Function, Climate!!

The recent history and development of architecture have been based on two very conflicting theories. The initiation of these theories started with the Louis Sullivan’s dictum of 19th century, in which his proposal, “form follows function”, challenged the decorative and symbolic practices of architecture. The idea of the proposal was to be rationalist and functionalist at the core and to be able to give form to functions that were predefined at various levels. The contradiction and challenge to this theory came from Louis Kahn in 1960 when he announced, “ function follows form”. The notion of this new theory was based on the realisations from the history that the functions and needs may change with time but the architectural forms will persist. The theorist hence concentrated on a new system of composition and design in which he treated architecture to be delinked from a functional program. The hierarchies of spaces hence created were in relation to each other, and although the built fabric was rigid, the functional usage would be flexible.

The author now talks about the concept that “function and form follows climate”, which he expresses to be the right direction of sustainable architecture in which the development, free of “formal and functional pre-determinations”. He wants to explore the scenario where in the architecture is completely deprogrammed and open to changes in weather conditions, seasons. He plans to replace the traditional approach to design and change the constraints, which are majorly functional and symbolic in nature, in order to achieve the freedom of use and interpretation.


“Place is to architecture, what meaning is to language”

The author puts forward an analogy, about the various cities and climatic regions. The lack of portable water of Venice for example, was the trigger behind the current day urban shape of the city. The squares of the city, the charming social places are all the result of the same necessity.

In the same vein, the presence of courtyard in the desert houses is the result of a requirement of an open space protected from dust storm. As explained about Baghdad, the spaces from cellar to roof have a variation in temperature and humidity, which allows the spaces to be used for various functions according to the time of the day and the season. On similar lines, the author gives us examples about the cool rooms, from the country houses of France.

The various examples imply to and highlight the manner in which the local architecture in terms of forms and functions have been a response to the local climate.

Independent Architecture!!!

Philippe Rahm in his conclusion talks about the capacity of architecture, as not being tied to a function, but being an independent interpretation which is not responding to the preconceived functional requirements. The talk of the passage was aimed to explain the readers that the way various modules and styles of architecture have developed over generations that have been a very efficient way of living for the locals of those regions, but the evolution of architecture over generations as a response to function and forms have taken a direction which is preconceived and which the author believes is not necessarily the efficient.

Talking of the response to climate and the way humans have adopted to the nature and climatic changes in various zones of the world, a connection to various topics of the assignment can be established, and noticed that the topic of this discussion can be slated as an example of environmental relationship.

Sustainability – Climate responsiveness?? Energy efficient??

The process of contemplation does result in many questions, which are unanswered.

When talking about Sustainable development, how do you strike a balance between the new age technologies, digital tools and the architecture, which has been developed and evolved over generations of acclimatization???

Is going back, the new going forward and developing???

How much should nature and architecture intervene with each other so that the results are optimized for both the sides???


“There is no point trying to close the windows and designing a sophisticated method of cooling the building, when all you have to do is open the windows”

                                                                                           - Working in the Region.


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