Architectural and urban design

Peter Lindberg has posted a nicely considered piece on computer architecture and it’s relationship to the general meaning of architecture, including this definition by Fred Brooks whom he entered into correspondence with on the topic:

“Computer architecture, like other architecture, is the art of determining the needs of the user of a structure and then designing to meet those needs as effectively as possible within economic and technological constraints. Architecture must include engineering considerations, so that the design will be economical and feasible; but the emphasis in architecture is on the needs of the user, whereas in engineering the emphasis is on the needs of the fabricator.”

I would contend that great architecture has it’s emphasis on the end-user – at least, on the end-user alone.

The emphasis is on the needs of the culture it is to embed itself within; via the consideration of site, place, history, context, ecology, arcology, archeology, climate (interacting with climate both to modify it for it’s inhabitants and it’s immediate external context) and the aesthetic / symbolic impact it may have. Also, the consideration of the end-user’s needs (in architectural terminlogy, the programme of the space) is done with this cultural-embedding in mind. How does the programme mesh with it’s surroundings? Do the end-users of the space feel part of a continuum, whether rural or urban; or isolated and hermetically-sealed off from their surroundings.

Can this extend into software? Clay’s situated-software meme scratches the surface of the above – it’s throwaway in most cases: coop-himmelblau or archigramesque digital urban intervention, not digital architecture or digital urbanism.

What would computer and software architecture that was truly analagous to architecture be like?


well… not rock and roll it seems. This from the online prospectus for a course by the London Consortium MRes/Phd course: “Shit and civilization: our ambivalent relationship to ordure in the city, culture and the psyche”:

“Our societies are, quite literally, founded on shit. Civilization means living in cities and cities are confronted, in a way more dispersed settlements are not, with heaps of garbage and ordure.

The course brings together two distinct disciplinary registers, architecture and the analysis of the built environment, and anthropology and psychoanalysis, to show this ambivalence. Thus the phenomena of the built environment and the cultural rules and psychical formations that seek to contain the pollution of matter out of place will be examined together. Shit in contemporary art and film will also be considered in the course.”


Excellent, excellent, excellent. Anne Galloway has started up a new blog devoted to space and culture, named: Space and Culture:

“My first and sustaining love is space and culture. My background is in anthropology and cross-cultural architecture, and I began my PhD specifically to study with my supervisor, Rob Shields.

Rob’s the editor of the academic journal Space and Culture, and while we redesign the web site, I thought we could start a Space and Culture Weblog. It will, of course, focus on all things spatial and cultural.”

It’s off to a good start, with BBJ faves Iain “Skateboarding and The City” Borden and Heckler + Coch already featuring… >>SUBSCRIBE<<


The latest issue of Metropolis is focussed on the city of 2010:

“Forget the flying car, the personal jet pack, the bubble condo on the Moon. It’s not going to happen–not for the vast majority of us, anyway. Here’s what is going to happen–what’s already happening–in controlled design experiments around the world. Trains are becoming a lot faster. Information technology is telling us more about where we are and what’s happening around us. Skyscrapers are getting crazier looking. Green technology is making places cleaner and healthier. Builders of monolithic structures are figuring out that their designs need to be flexible, that today’s forward-looking design is tomorrow’s aesthetic hangover. The city of the near future is closer than you think.”

I keep thinking how timid we were in projecting CarFreeLondon as being achieved in 2020…

Couple of things:

I’ve started to re-read “Space is the machine” by Bill Hillier; and I’d forgotten the brilliant quote at the start by Sheep:

“…I thought that all that functional stuff had been refuted. Buildings aren’t machines.”

“You haven’t understood. The building isn’t the machine. Space is the machine.”

I’ll be back in London for the Bill Mitchell talk, so maybe see you there.