HOW WILL ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN EVOLVE IN THE ERA OF AUTOMATION AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?
reMIXstudio | 临界工作室联合创始人，gooood精选专业课－三维空间的数据分析和可视化主讲师
Founding Partner of reMIXstudio，Director of the gooood summer workshop
This is not a discussion about politics, but the city is a political realm so we need to start from the macro-models and the current changes in our economic and social systems to discuss about how designers can take an active role in shaping the future of our cities.
Automation is growing at an exponential rate and robots are gradually taking over many steps of the industrial production. The current reality is that hi-tech companies like Foxconn are firing thousands of workers in their assembly-lines and substitute them with machines; and if Google DeepMind program, AlphaGo, is already able to beat the human world champion of Go, in an display of creativity rather than simple brutal computational force, many white-collars could soon undergo a similar fate. Economists have calculated that in the US 47% of employment could soon be automated and in countries like China where most of the employment still relies on manual labour, the social impact of such shift could be dramatic.
技术本身并没有意识形态，但利用技术推动如此巨大的经济变动的人与企业必然是有意而为之的。如对科技如同宗教信仰一样崇拜的硅谷；像技术商业化（techno-commercialism）, 技术自由主义（techno-libertarianism）以及黑暗启蒙（Dark Enlightenment）等这些在风投领域炙手可热的运动都表现出了相似的对社会与国家的不信任，他们致力于以技术实用主义取代社会福利。例如优步这样的高科技公司声称他们“可以给人们任何他们想要的东西，比国家给予的更快更好，如果这点需要投票的话，消费者可以用他们的钱包来实现。”
Technology doesn’t have any ideology, but the people and companies that are pushing such drastic economic change certainly do. The Silicon Valley is dominated by an almost religious faith in technology; movements like techno-commercialism, techno-libertarianism and the Dark Enlightenment, which are very popular among venture capitalists, find their common denominator in a general distrust for the state and the public sector and aim at substituting social welfare with techno-pragmatism. Hi-tech companies like Uber argue that they “can give the people what they want, faster and better than the state. If there needs to be a vote, customers can do it with their wallets.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, left movements are starting to incorporate the current technological revolution into their political models, seeking an opportunity for a new social equality based on full automation and universal basic income.
After decades of apolitical activity, with the market economy and corporate interests leading the transformation of our cities, architects are back to the political battlefield.
Alejandro Aravena, recent winner of the Prizker Prize, just curated an edition of the Venice Biennale centred on socially-engaged design practises – a focus criticised by some for not going far enough, addressing the housing problem in its local manifestations rather than at a larger systematic scale, thus relying on individual good-will rather than on political responsibility. Almost at the same time Patrick Schumacher launched an international competition for Liberland, a self-proclaimed independent state, as a laboratory for anarcho-capitalism, following the socio-economic propositions of the Silicon Valley.
In the middle, without any clear political connotation stands the Smart City movement.
A smart city is a model of urban development based on the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in the management of urban strategic elements like infrastructure (from transportation network to energy and water supply) and services (from public buildings to waste management). New technologies are meant to improve the efficiency of public services – monitoring in real time the functionality of the urban system through its components – and be able to enhance a more direct dialogue between the administration and the local population. Smart Cities are a popular model all over the world and it is a booming market for hi-tech service providers so there is no doubt that big private corporations have an important role in the development of such vision.
With the introduction of sensors and CCTV cameras and the generalised spread of mobile technology we are all part of a huge monitoring system.
Big data is now a common word but it is still not clear how such amount of information should be managed. Are we living in a surveillance system that replaced liberty with comfort?
Big data can certainly make planning more empirical, participatory and innovative but what happens when the data is administered by private corporations? Social problems cannot always be defined by the logic of optimization and profit. In a critique to Smart Cities, Koolhaas says “The commercial motivation corrupts the very entity it is supposed to serve… To save the city, we may have to destroy it…”
Full automation is transforming every industry and architecture and urban design are not exceptions.
While computer software is been a standard in the industry for at least two decades, there are technological applications that are still quite unexplored.
A) At the architectural scale, research is now focusing more and more on additive manufacturing, applying 3d-printing technology to buildings.
3d-printing techniques offer some clear benefits:
complex geometries can be achieved almost effortlessly
with structural simulations we can optimize the use of material, creating empty geometric structures that work like bird bones, being lighter than traditional casted elements
with the evolution of 3d-printed techniques we will soon be able to print with locally available materials like sand, avoiding transportation costs (not by chance NASA entered this research field, looking for a solution for future space colonization)
But there are also limitations:
the speed of production is (still) quite slow, making 3d-printed economically attractive for unique elements but not competitive with prefabricated modules
the structural performance of most 3d-printed elements is quite low, thus this technique is valid only for low-rise buildings
the immediacy that allows almost any shape to be buildable sometimes produces shallow designs (although this problem is more related to designers making the wrong use of this technology, it never the less affects its general perception)
Can these techniques have a real impact in the building industry that is traditionally very conservative?
Can 3d-printed buildings play an important role in the affordable housing market, where many emerging countries are still struggling?
B) At the urban scale, cities are trying hard to become “smarter”, but the innovation so far has mainly focused on the management rather than on the planning process.
The access to large (open-source?) databases and the use of more and more sophisticated algorithms can help create more adaptable models for our cities, especially in contexts of fast urbanization.
In China right now there is a big gap between a very dynamic estate market (often subjected to wild speculation) and planning tools that are still based on static models, projecting design goals in a time frame of 10 to 20 years. Master plans often lack any flexibility and end up being outdated way before their original expectations.
The introduction of systematic phasing and more adaptable implementation strategies seem the only possible solution to this issue. In this sense computational tools can help develop a more open-ended design strategy: elaborating multiple scenarios, simulating solutions, evaluating and realigning urban strategies for flexible ranges and scales.
But while parametric tools are very useful for optimization processes, they often generate outputs that look too smooth and generic. Cities need some elements of friction, some unexpected peaks of intensity, those “accidents” in the urban fabric that create a unique spatial identity.
– Can we push optimization while preserving the multi-cultural identity of a city?
– Where is the right balance between top-down and bottom-up approaches?
– Can the open-source model diffused in the programming community be exported to city planning?
– Will artificial intelligence ever be able to address qualitative issues?
Please feel free to express your thoughts on either topic. Thanks!
Carl B. Frey & Michael A. Osborne, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?, September 17, 2013 (http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf)
EvgenyMorozov, Our cities shouldn’t rely on Uber to devise new transport choices (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/01/cities-need-to-fight-uber-trasnsport-choice-evgeny-morozov)
Alex Williams & Nick Srnicek, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work
Rem Koolhaas, talk given at the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, 24 September 2014.
(按照嘉宾姓名的拼音字母顺序排序，the answers are alphabetically sort)
Post-Contemporary “Multi-cultural Identity”
Creative Commonspace Limited联合创始人，Graham基金会与城市中国计划成员
Founding P Commonspace Limited, Graham Foundation and Urban China Initiative fellow
The 21st century is accelerating at an unprecedented rate with the advent of smart technologies and digital global networks which allow for instantaneous, global access with a few short key strokes on a computer or smart device. Companies such as Google, who have developed and are still further developing the current and next generations of computer learning software, are exceeding exponentially and computationally what any individual or group of individuals could do without the aid of computers. This is in essence an era of “post-contemporary” criticality. If contemporary is “Of this time”, then the post contemporary represents multiple readings of past, present and future simultaneously, disrupting the notion of the “now” and supplanting it with multiple readings and temporalities. This has distorted the notion of context, place and time and has created seemingly borderless territories which we inhabit. This has ramifications not only in regards to the process of how data is collected but also further complicates the types of data that are deemed useful and how one defines “cultural, political or social” identity.
What is key in the post contemporary age is to re-engage the notion of scale, context and to carefully define what data is useful through a different type of optimization that seeks to further define notions of the “local”. When thinking about “optimization” of systems that are key to the formation of cultural and systematic or infrastructure based constructs (the lifeline of any city or urban environment) one of the first questions should be how one defines “multi-cultural identity”. This can be paraphrased in the question “What is one trying to preserve, nurture or encourage the growth of?”. This premises that inherent in “Multi-cultural Identity” are urban conditions which can be described as the coexistence or potential for coexistence of fine grained localities consisting of a rich mixture of multi-variant communities, micro-economies, urban environments and access to information. This also premises that “multi-cultural identity” is the driver of the formation of multi-cultural urban environments.
The optimization of data collection requires a rethinking of what data “is” and what data is “useful”. Mega-data tends to be quantitative in nature, dealing with a vast amount of information that is incomprehensible at a detailed scale (i.e. there is too much data to consider) and reduces the resolution of information to very generalized data sets which are easy to digest. Mega Data misses the opportunity to further understand the micro-scale economies and ecologies which urban environments are defined by. Lack of information or information that is too general misses the nuances of the “local” inhabitants and environments within which they reside.
If the role of data is to provide a better understanding or description of existing conditions and communities (including past histories which are still present as a type of cultural residue) and which play a role in shaping urban environments, a holistic understanding of the “local” is key. The local can best be understood through qualitative data which better unfolds the rich socio-cultural narratives that are prevalent within any multi-cultural community. These narratives could also be described as a complex layering of multiple actors with distinctive micro-histories, skill sets and socio-cultural traits who are actively responding to and at the same time helping to shape changes in their urban environments. This is a cyclical process that is dynamic (i.e. continually evolving) and something the historian Manuel Delanda has termed, “autocatalytic”, neither purely top down nor bottom up but a continuous interplay between constantly evolving forces. This is a process which is one of constant negotiation and remediation seeking to determine new modes of equilibrium within environments that are continually changing.
To understand this dynamic, the mechanisms at play and the metrics required to understand them requires a methodology that can dynamically track changes within urban environments using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. This requires the integration of on the ground survey techniques combined with digital platforms. As this should be a continual process which if serviced by an institution or private agency would require a lot of resources and capital to maintain, perhaps the best solution is a grass roots open source platform that creates incentives for participation. This requires a novel innovative approach to how data is perceived as well as how data is collected.
在与创意城市发展研究院（CUDI ，Creative Urban Development Institute）的合作中我们逐渐建立了一系列我们称之为“知识共享平台”的模型。这种城市调研的原型专注于参与式设计，意图了解获得当地参与者响应的奖励机制，并进一步激发当地参与者参加自主组织（自催化过程）的积极性，以得到具有连续性的定性信息。而这种模型在当地利益相关者看到其所提供的描述性信息为他们带来的价值和利益时，将发挥最大的作用。
Through work with CUDI (Creative Urban Development Institute), we have started to look into such models which we are calling a “shared knowledge based platform”. This is a type of urban survey prototype that focuses on participatory design and seeks to further understand the incentives that local constituents respond to and how to further engage the “local” to want to be pro-active in self-organizing (autocatalytic process) in order to provide qualitative information on a continual basis. This is best achieved when the local stakeholders see value and benefits to providing information that helps to further describe the urban environments they inhabit.
How data is positioned or in other words, the type of data that is deemed valuable is the key first question. This question is one that is best formed contextually by examining and unfolding areas/urban conditions under investigation (i.e. a type of auditing process). Through this type of investigation, a better understanding of methods for what data is useful and how to collect data can be ascertained. And from this a participatory platform for collecting information can further be developed. What is required is a rethinking of what data is useful, how it is collected and innovative platforms that can better collect and make accessible qualitative and quantitative data at a local level.
毕月 Beatrice Leanza
Artistic Director of Beijing Design Week
自动化的隐喻，预言和抽象能力在理论和实践领域，都不断挑战着人类对外界的移情能力；而移情能力不仅从本质上区分了人类与非人类，也对生命、空间、体系、象征及商品的新形态拥有一定约束能力。Spyros Papapetros在他的著作《无机的生气：艺术，建筑，和生命的延续》中将当代与过去对于人造工艺的微观世界与包罗万象的宏观宇宙的辩证思考重新连接，当我们 “在这个计算机（再）生成的文化中发展与衰落”时，这个让我们越来越着迷的论述仍是一如既往地未得到解答。
The metaphors, prophecies and abstractions of automation have long vivified theoretical arguments and practical knowledge around human’s capacity to empathize with the external world – that is not only the ability to identify with the non-human, but the capacity to exert a level of controlled autonomy on new forms of life, its spaces, institutions, symbols and commodities. In his fascinating book On the Animation of the Inorganic – Art, Architecture and the Extension of Life, Spyros Papapetros rewires contemporary connections to ancient constructs of dialectical thinking between the ‘microcosm of human artifacts and the macrocosm of universal affairs’ as an unabated and unresolved discourse that we are increasingly possessed by as we ‘evolve and dissolve in a computer (re)generated culture’.
The polarizing positions around the role, use and value of automation – simplistically divided between, say, techno-enthusiasts and neo-cavemen – continue in a line of inquiry around the spirit of animation and man’s relation to the outside world. So what is then the ‘outside’ we speak of today? Pervasive and vivified, the simulated environments of life we perpetuate, from digital platforms to enchanted objects (David Rose) and smart cities, seem to repeatedly fail the utopian expectations of an expanded field of existence where the natural and the man-made coexist. From this perspective, technology as both method and tool of analysis, might as well offer an alternative conduit to exit dialectical thinking by way of reassessing its own limitations more than its competencies.
在即将来临的伊斯坦布尔设计双年展（2016年10月）上，比阿特丽斯科洛米纳 (Beatriz Colomina) 和马克·威格利（Mark Wigley）致力于将这个富有意义的难题置于讨论的中心。作为双年展的主题，“我们是人类吗？（Are We Human?）”，旨在让专业人士和公众来重新思考一个简单的立场：“设计通常致力于服务人类，实际上它的真正志向在于重新设计人类…设计之外不再存在任何外界，设计已经成为了整个世界。”这可以说是一个与2016年威尼斯建筑双年展的主题息息相关的论题，与其作为对于创作形式的实践本质的一种探索，不如说是一种理念，一种由其本体维度的兼容性和人类世界的现存需求所定义的媒介形式。如果我们不再视科技为工具，我们可能也不会把它的构架和痕迹看作是生命的延伸或增长，而是将它作为过渡时期的推动力量，使其在个人决策的小尺度而不是系统革命的大尺度下更好地发挥功能。作为在全球范围里对于不同的范例与观点的一种大众体现，“前线报告（Reporting from the Front）”这个主题，是网络化的人类行为集合的事实前提，而这些人类行为的集合早已超越了完全由空间所创造的政治和经济。
For the upcoming Istanbul Design Biennale (October 2016), Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, aim at placing this productive conundrum at the centre of discussion. Are We Human? title of the biennale, offers itself to professionals and publics as a reconsideration of a simple stance: ‘’Design his is arguably a position adjacent to the one set forth with the 2016 edition of the Architecture Biennale in Venice – not as much an enquiry in the nature of the practice as techne, a form of making, but as ethos, that is a form of agency defined by its ontological dimension of compatibility with the extant needs of the human world. If we stop looking at technology as tooling, we might as well start thinking of its architectures and vestiges not as extensions or augmentations of life but as enablers of rites of passage that can better exert their function on the small-scale of individual actions than the aerial scale of systemic revolutions. In its populous manifestation of disparate examples and positions on a global expanse, Reporting from the Front is a factual premise to the reality of networked clusters of human actions that are already in place beyond the politics and economics of sheer space-making.
The issue thus moves elsewhere. With their accelerating thrust, the promises of new technologies have certainly helped as looking further back, deeper in our pasts, so offering auxiliary solace to the predictions of perils, natural or man-made, that the future impinges on us. Having mastered the two tenses we humans can do little within the ordinary times of our waking lives, a remodeling of projections on technological applications is possibly allowing us to finally access and potentially transform the present, with punctuality and precision.
Parameters values and tacit forms of algorithms
Co-founder and Academic Director at Relational Urbanism, Civil Engineer at Arup
数字技术的出现，以及由此产生的一系列可用于捕获和阐释数据的科学已经彻底变革了我们审视和分析城市的方式。我们今天的世界如果可以称得上独特，是因为它允许人们组织自我并且在影响自身周围环境的决策上扮演更具前瞻性的角色。新的数字化城市资料库（digital urban documents）正在通过设计师，政府机构和公众的参与逐渐成型。这个过程不仅体现在数字化城市资料库在设计过程中起越来越积极的作用，也体现在终端使用者（公众）与设计团队之间双向的分享与反馈。当数字模型的准则通过不同的媒介引入另一个相关视角当中时，会对使用数字模型的从业者产生一定影响。这种开源的形式还会在建筑设计，发展策略和公众参与的重叠领域产生一定的干预作用。这种形式也在信息模型里开辟了一种新的空间体系，连续性和差异性得以一种出乎意料的方式展开；同时质疑着数据（官方或者环境）和变量建立共享价值的方式。
The advent of digital technologies and the resulting array of available techniques for capturing and interpreting data have shifted the ways in which we look at and analyze the urban domain. Perhaps if this current scenario is distinctive, it is because it empowers people to organize themselves and take on a more proactive role in the decisions that affect their immediate environment. New forms of digital urban documents are emerging that collate input from designers, government bodies and members of the public. One implication is that the urban document can be more pro-active in the design process; allowing information sharing and feedback from the end user to the design team and vice versa. This has implications for practitioners using digital models where rules are introduced in a relational perspective by different agents. This form of shared authorship makes possible interventions where architectural design, development policies and participation are intertwined, opening up spatial regimes in which continuity and differentiation are deployed in the model in unexpected ways and questioning how data (either formal or environmental) and parameters can start to build shared values.
Parameters are bounded to define a particular system from which a quantity is selected according to specific circumstances and in relation to which other variables might be expressed. Values point to the fact that something is held to deserve, its importance or worth of something for someone. Both parameters and values are relative, but while a parameter is relative to an established system, a value is relative to individuals. In urban design, space, time and value are intimately intertwined, and turning parameters into values is therefore the most critical issue at stake in urban parametric models.
In this sense, the urban geographer David Harvey distinguishes between two ways of constructing space, time and value: social and relational. A social construction is imposed by the established mechanisms of social reproduction, dictated by elites and implemented through forms of direct or indirect social control such as urban protocols, regulations and the media. A relational construction understands that it is possible to have multiple constructions coming from different groups of people that share similar values. These groups, which Harvey calls ‘domains’, are relative to the particular issue at stake and can share common features such as disciplinary background, gender or ethnicity. A relational construction of space, time and value implies a tension, a negotiation between these different domains.
Another implication that comes from relating parameters to values is that a parameter constitutes a form of knowledge that is explicit and codified, while values hold a tacit dimension. The definition of the tacit dimension was introduced by the British-Hungarian polymath Michael Polanyi in the 1960s, who is renowned for his theoretical contributions to physical chemistry, economics and philosophy. Initially referring to production in the creative arts, the tacit dimension is characterized by knowledge that can be conceptualized and transmitted before it can be explicitly rationalized. The designer often has to engage with this level of knowledge and reach the wider audience through inner feelings and developing ideas in the form of intuition that can only be contained within the individual.
These two characteristics – the relational construction of space, time and value and the tacit dimension – are what underpin the Relational Urbanism’s development of RUMs. These customized toolkits of urban parametric models, databases, infographics and interactive platforms allow real-time interplay with urban form in such a way that the design team can work on interdependencies between different spatial and non-spatial components of an urban project. The purpose is not so much to showcase existing data or decisions made a priori, but fabricating new knowledge and building urban institutions understood as ‘a set of rules based on ethical values of a specific community that influence the individual’s decision making’.
相关性都市主义（relational urbanism）一直在探索存储文件和参与机制的不同类型，存储文件和参与机制也一直在吸收不同参数形态和隐性思想的混合产物。该观点想要表达的是每一个项目都是一个融合了诸多方法和唯一目的的混合物，这么做不是为了传播或者交流知识，而是为了获得产生新知识的可能性并去提炼它。如果从一种整体规划的视角来看， RUMs可以被整合在不同参数如何在优化运算方式下互相影响的讨论中。此举将会促进关键的利益相关者达成共识，打破土地利用、交通和社会经济学价值之间的平衡，而这三者在项目真正开始之前是不被设计师所知的。借由手工物理模型和合理参数化后的终层（a final layer）模型的结合，与公共空间连接更加密切的小尺度场地能够更好地迎合大众。这出于参与程序的开放性特征和激发热情和好奇心的需要。从教育的角度看，物理和数字的模型可以通过有趣的契约来结合，从而进一步地进入我们原以为是静止的世界。
Relational Urbanism has been exploring different types of forms of documentation and participatory mechanisms that incorporate different mixtures of parametric and tacit forms of thinking. The argument would be that each project is going to require a particular mixture between these approaches with the sole purpose not so much of expressing or communicating knowledge, but quite the opposite, to open up the possibility of generating new knowledge and extracting it. At a masterplannig perspective, RUM’s can be utilized in the discussion of how to different parameters affect each other with the help of optimization engines. This would help key stakeholders to arrive to common points of agreement and strike balances regarding land use, transportation or socioeconomic values which are not known to the designer before the entre process starts. Smaller scales more linked to public space can be better catered by combinations of physical hand modelling and a final layer of parametric post rationalization. This is due to the open character of participatory processes and the need of generating enthusiasm and curiosity. From an educational perspective, physical and digital simulations can be combined in playful forms of engagement that move further into a realm that we could consider fully tacit.
Understanding the balance between the tacit and parametric dimension of the models can create new forms of spatial culture and appreciation for the texture of the city that can begin to be incorporated in the development of plans and policies. In this context, urban designers need to calibrate the introduction of parameters, values and tacit forms of algorithms, and become aware of the entire architectural cultures, producing both continuities and differentiations, that ultimately form the character of our cities.
The – bottom up process in making smart cities
何珊 He Shan
Data Visualization Engineer at Uber
Today, most of the conversations around smart cities are focused on the discussion that the power of making a smart city lies in the hands of city authorities and administrators. In fact the forming of such intelligent urban environment is inevitably a top-down as well as a bottom-up process; the latter, in my opinion, is where the real opportunities are. New information technologies are not only giving the city administrators knowledge and tools to improve the efficiency of the urban system; more fundamentally, they foster a more informed living environment where everyone who lives in it plays a part in making it. We are sharing information everyday, via our smart devices, about our existence, with or without our knowledge. All this information is captured, stored, analyzed, visualized, and eventually turns into actionable insights that in return make everyone’s life more informed. An example is the popular navigation app Waze, which calculates routes based on real time traffic sent from drivers’ phones. It also enables drivers to share information about accidents, construction works, police location and slowdowns. Such smart system is entirely formed bottom-up, with little implementation by the city administration. And we have seen many similar systems forming around us. We have apps that tell us where to eat, where to shop by collecting reviews from people who have been there. We also have apps that connect rider and driver on the road and match people with similar route to ride together. The enabling of a bottom-up smart urban system depends on our fast growing information technology, a forward thinking city administration and most importantly, every city dwellers’ precipitation.
Can these techniques have a real impact in the building industry that is traditionally very conservative?
虽然题目问的是 3D 打印技术,我想把讨论对象稍微延展到更大的概念:“数字技术”。毫无疑问,过去二十多年 它在建筑上的推广和应用为行业带来了十分巨大的改变,使我们建筑师有机会去建造一些以前无法实现的建筑形 式。但为了更好的对上述提问给出我的回答,我觉得有必要从更广的角度去思考数字技术究竟能为我们社会带来 什么真正的变革。
Although the keyword of this discussion is 3D printing technology, I would like to somewhat extend the subject to a broader concept: digital technologies. There is no doubt that the digital technologies have exerted a huge influence on our building industry. Since the last decade of 20th century, they have enabled our architects to build some highly complex geometries which otherwise would not have been possible. But in order to better answer the question is asked, it is necessary for us to think about what kind of real social impacts that the digital technologies can actually offer.
著名建筑历史学者 Mario Carpo 在那本名为字母表与算法(The Alphabet and the Algorithm)的著作里有这样一段对 于数字技术的描述:“在数字化生产过程中,标准化将不在意味着节省金钱,同理,定制化将不再意味着浪费金 钱”1。因此,在数字技术面前,工业革命以来所盛行的标准化制造将不再具有优势。机械化制造方式一般是先 制造一个模具,然后以它来生产尽可能多的相同物件以降低每一个物件的造价。而这套原理在数字化技术面前则 不再适用。用数字化技术(比如三维打印技术)制造100 件相同的物体与打印100 件完全不一样的物件在制造成 本上不会有任何差别(假设体积一样)。换句话说,用数字技术去制造更加适合实际用户需求的定制产品并不会 比生产代表着“平均需求”的标准化产品付出更多的经济成本,因此它能够在社会上大规模的制造和推广个人定制 产品,实现“定制产品的民主化”。在这种经济原理和假设下,你可以观察到越来越多的三维打印服务店和大规模 定制的日用产品在市场逐渐涌现并在用户中赢得不错的反响。
In his book The Alphabet and the Algorithm, Architectural historian Mario Carpo depicts: “In a digital production process, standardization is no longer a money‐saver. Likewise, customization is no longer a money‐waster.” As the digital technologies develop, the standardized production, which has prevailed since the industrial revolution, will no longer has advantages on the cost. The traditional mechanical production of objects usually starts with the production of a mold, and then many identical objects are made out of this mold. The more identical copies are produced, the less costly each copy will be. But this economy of scale does not work in the realm of digital production. Using digital technologies to make 100 different objects will have no differences on cost compared to producing 100 identical objects (assuming their volumes are the same). In other words, using the digital technologies to produce customized products, which are supposed to be better fit to the actual needs of the users, will not cost more than making standardized products that represent an average need of the market. Therefore, the non‐standardized products can be mass produced and the democratization of the customized products can soon be achieved. Under this assumption and economic rationale, you can see there are more and more 3D‐ printing providers and mass‐customized daily commodities emerging in the market and a lot them are well received by the customers.
However, if you pay attention to the digital technologies’ application in building industry, you may find out that although a lot of highly complex geometric forms have been constructed with its assistance, most of them are high‐end projects with a larger‐than‐normal budget and are serving the upper social class. This phenomenon can be partially attributed to the fact that non‐standardized and customized design and production still have a huge impact on the cost. And given the enormous scale and complexity of buildings, there may be still a long way to go before the true mass‐customized houses or buildings become a reality.
让我举个简单的例子。想像有两个体积相同,长细比都为 1:10 的三维几何体。物体A 是由正方形垂直拉伸而成 的体量。而物体B 则为从正方形垂直向上拉伸并平滑过渡到顶部为圆形的复杂三维几何体。在当今的电脑三维数 字建模平台上,我们可以毫不费劲的分别建出物体A 和物体B 的数字模型。而在建造方面,当物体A 和B 为日常生 活品尺度的时候,当前的3D 打印技术在生产两者方面不会产生任何成本上的差异;但是,当你把物体A 和B 想像 为两个300 米的超高层住宅建筑的时候(塔楼A 和塔楼B),A 和B 的几何形式差异所带来的成本差异将会是巨大 的。建筑师往往关注几何形式,但建筑并非仅仅是单一材料塑造成的大型雕塑,它所涉及到的学科(与科学)和 工种很广。非标准化(或定制化)设计与生产在这些方面对造价的影响往往是相当巨大的。比如,由于体量的圆 滑过渡,塔楼B 细分出来的玻璃幕墙单元在大部分楼层上的角度都不一样,因此无论在工程师的设计与计算还是 工人的现场安装方面,塔楼B 比起塔楼A 都会更复杂和耗费成本。同时,大部分塔楼B 的转角幕墙单元都是特殊 幕墙单元,而塔楼A 的转角幕墙单元则都为相同的标准化单元。而且,当专业住宅建筑师开始参与进来以后,他 们只需要为塔楼A 设计若干个标准层平面。而对于塔楼B, 由于它垂直变化的体量造成每一层的楼板形状都稍微不 一样,而且幕墙竖框连接楼板的位置在垂直方向上都不一致,因此住宅建筑师就需要逐层的调整平面设计,因此 而产生的额外的设计与协调工作量可以是十分巨大的。在当前着迷于“连续变化”和“圆滑曲面过渡”等形式概念的 建筑学术界内,上述的各种例子多少显得有些琐碎。但在实践中,往往正是这些因素使得非标准化设计与制造依 然代表着数额不小的额外造价,最终造成的结果就是非标准化设计被平庸的,代表平均需求的标准化设计所代 替,或者非标准化设计成为相对富有的社会精英阶层所独享的权利。
Here are some examples to further explain this. If we imagine that there are two geometries with the same volume and same slenderness ratio of 1:10. Object A is a straight extrusion of a square shape, whereas the Object B is a square‐to‐circle vertically transformed geometry. With today’s digital modeling programs, we can effortlessly model these two geometries. In terms of the production, when both objects are in the scale of daily commodities, 3D printing these two geometries will not have any cost differences. However, when you imagine these two abstract geometries as two 300m residential towers (let’s name them Tower A and B respectively), the differences of their costs could be enormous. Architects tend to focus on form and geometry, but a building is not just a giant sculpture that made of single material. The production and construction of a building involves an enormous amount of works performed by other disciplines and trades. The cost implications on other disciplines and trades, which normally fall outside the traditional Architectural discourse, could be considerable. For instance, the subdivided curtain wall panels of Tower B would have continually changed angles for most of its floors, making its engineering and installation processes much more complicated and time‐consuming; also, a lot of Tower B’s corner curtain wall units will be one‐of‐a‐kind units, whereas the counterparts of Tower A can be standardized corner units. In addition, when the Interior Architecture firm gets involved, they just need to design a number of typical
floor layouts for Tower A as all the floor plates are the same. However, for Tower B, because the shapes of floor plates and their mullion locations varies, the resulting extra adjustments that the Interior Architect needs to make could be enormous. In an academic environment which has been obsessed with spatial concepts like “continual variations” or “smooth surface transformation”, the preceding instances may sound trivial. However, sometimes it is exactly these factors that make the customized design and production much more expensive than the standardized one, which ends up resulting the non‐standardized design to be replaced by a more standardized design, or making the customized designs only available to the wealthier upper social classes.
There is no doubt that a real mass customization in building industry can bring real impacts to the society and it is a beautiful dream that deserver pursuing. Therefore, while celebrating the digital technologies’ capacity to construct highly complex building forms, we also need to realize that it probably still has a really long way to go before the full potential of digital technologies can be exploited in the building industry. The more integrated and automated the building design, manufacture and installation processes become, the less expensive the non‐ standardized and customized products could be. Hopefully one day soon people can order to manufacture their individually customized houses like they order to 3D print customized mugs.
杨松 Yang Song
Yang Song, Urban Planner, BICP
I believe that AI and “Big data” can handle most of the quantitative and qualitative problems in Urban Planning. In fact, lots of urban planners are learning from their methodology and apply to their planning projects. For instance, in ”Beijing Greenway Planning” projects, we collect large amounts of hiking and biking routes from the Internet. By analyzing these data, we make a portrait of potential users of Beijing Greenway and make better planning decisions.
But I highly doubt AI can make better plans than human professionals. Because the key to a good plan is not always good problem solving skills, but rather the willingness and good skill of communication with related participants in the planning process. And I think it is definitely a challenge for AI to understand, communicate with and persuade the related human participants. Besides, AlphaGo success cannot necessarily be copied in Urban Planning, because unlike Go, there are not that many urban planning practices that have been implemented and evaluated so AI may not be able to complete its learning process.
于雷 Yu Lei
Founder of Archi-solution Workshop (3d-printing and robots), Co-founder of LCD (Laboratory of Creative Design) and DADA (Digital Architecture Design Association)
I am the person who does best to promote digital design and fabrication. Sometimes I have to over stress this point, because people need confidence. The contemporary society is drastically driven by technology. That means it has to be well prepared for any incoming event which is either acceptable or unacceptable in common sense. Sometime it needs some imagination for the big and risky future benefit, while its current situation seems not to work immediately at all. Most people, including pretty much architects are highly skeptical about the invasion of industrial automation. They are used to react behind other professions and prefer to be the audience in front of most fancy cases.
When people are skeptical about any novel methodology, they actually expect too much as if these things are too naïve to be implemented immediately. However, for architects, I have to say that it is natural duty to be creative and deal with new materials and tools. The industrial automation, currently represented by 3D printing technology and robotic technology, has strong ambitions to proceed a huge transition for design industry. Even though this just starts, designers should not be terrified by their weakness that is still under improvement. For instance the slow speed and small physical output of 3D printer and the complicated operation of industrial robot. Instead, designers should better submit some practice and experiments to break through the traditional border. The result might be ugly or incomplete, however it exposes something that we have never done, or were incapable to approach before.
Therefore, I would like to provoke that: do something propelled by the spirit of making and designing in the new digital era.
赵力群 Zhao Liqun
Co-Director of AA Visiting School Beijing, Principal of studio P.L.U.S.
3-D printing technology is difficult to influence construction industry completely, traditional and conservative construction industry is subject to its own limitations. Any large-scale use of new technology will affect society as a whole which for the overall construction related industries is a fundamental change. Technology demonstration project only that means human and technology are improving, an example of technology application possibilities, it does not mean that its technology has been or must be used in large scale. That’s the game for both technology and the protection of intellectual property rights, and that is also the critical point for the economic benefits.
The breakthrough of 3-D printing technology in construction industry is to provide more possibilities. Specific structure of joints customized printing (Arup studio’s design of metal customized joints); A way to achieve functional façade (breathing façade); Rapidly response of 3-D structure printing in extreme environments (Like the possibilities of Foster + partners to 3D print structures on the moon); Those all are enhancements for 3-D print technology in traditional construction industry.
It’s not a complete change, but it’s a breakthrough and it brings possibilities.
If rapid industrialization can be customized, volume, cheap, while ensuring quality, then why should we use 3-D printing technology to build affordable housing in developing countries?
Low-income or poor people did not get benefit of low-cost and high-quality residential construction technology brought by industrial mass production. It is difficult to imagine large-scale use of 3-D print technology in affordable housing, while ensuring quality and safety.
Dubai tried to use 3-D print technology to print concrete buildings recently, announced to be the first country in the world to promote the large-scale use of 3-D printed house in 2020. I think it’s more a publicity stunt than a true demand in this field. In addition, Dubai as a high-income country, this event is more like a response that society is blindly enthusiastic toward 3-D print technology.
It largely depends on what we think of technology, no matter if it is big data analysis or AI, if we cannot build our enthusiasm toward technology on boarder platform, but only use it to avoid the risk of individual or collective decisions, then our city culture will restrict by technology, lose its diversity, will be caught in a high cost and systematic destruction mechanism.
Cultural diversity in the city is built on a similar mechanism compared to ecological systems, it seems chaos, but it has its own system, or an inclusive platform, it allows difference and mutation, and use it to maintain the whole diversity and vitality of an ecological system.
Using big data analysis, algorithms, AI, Smart city to make urban planning decisions (here I prefer to say that it is to guide an urban planning), it can largely provide the best urban responsive system and dynamic and real-time, multi-selective and diversity decision making mechanism for this combination of fictitious and reality society and times.
In this dynamic optimization mechanism, every citizen can be involved in the decision-making process, to achieve the cultural diversity from different dimensions together.
This strategy balance point should be in the mechanic platform of top-down and bottom-up approaches, how to use big data combined with more dimensions of big data analytics to process its opinions, helping city planners use inclusive and scientific mechanic platform to react based on emergence of information and its regularity, dynamic implementation and adjustment of planning strategy is a responsive dynamic planning mechanism.
At first, the concept of “open-source” must be based on the information security control, how to make sure “big data” is open and being used by goodwill but not by terrorism or businesses. How to break interest barrier of different sectors decides if “open source” can be accepted in urban planning level.
BAT already have location information accurate to numbers, income information, spending habits, family consumption structure, the proportion of bank credit and card consumption distribution, travel records, travel direction and time etc, covering all aspects of urban personal life data. This data can be maliciously used by commercial organizations, and through the “black mirror” type of subtle impressions, inducing mass consumption, then the urban planning function of what we can see is not necessarily better and most efficient allocation of resources, and become the largest pressure system for consumerism.