Here is the long description.
Feelings rule the world. The emotional geographies and affective economies of elections, protests, of pandemic grief and loss, of spaces of migration and flight, and of the immediacy and monotony of the domestic, are forming new times of relationality and exposing new and persistent inequities. As Ahmed suggests, we must pay attention not just to affects and emotions, but to the work emotions do, to the way they not only move us but move the world. The relationship between fact and fiction, between fiction as fact, orients us towards investigating the mediums of historiography as agents of disclosure or revelation, but equally as acts of concealment. The dichotomy of the digital folds into itself leaving the virtual not just as the ‘as if’ but equally the ‘as is’ and warrants attending to. What does it mean to engender frames of history, frames of the present, frames of the future? To invoke and involve literally the situated mediations in image, in stone and bronze, in waste, in stories and feeds and posts and walls, and task concern with how they are made, unmade, and remade. If, after Marechera, fiction can be a form of combat, what new terrains of struggle are invoked through the speculative, the fabulated, and the downright weird, and what latent energy remains to be conjured from salvaging the rhetoric of revolutions gone by? If, to draw on the root of the term fictiō, to engage in fiction is to make or produce, what architectures are crafted in the act of fictioneering, making-up as making-with?
The Fiction, Feeling, Frame research theme opens up a discussion in the School of Architecture and beyond about multiple and contradictory realities of lived, digitised, mediated, speculated and contested spatial lives through the lenses, literatures, entrapments, directions, and false ends of fiction, feeling, and frame. This research stream operates through unstable relations of FFF – at turns, frame, fiction and feeling, or fiction feeling, frame, but sometimes feeling, frame and fiction – and multiple combative modes including performance, earth-writing, policy engagement, architectural and spatial design, photography and curation; practices of abolition, transmutation and figuration.
The Laboratory for Design and Machine Learning is formed of a multi-disciplinary team working on experimental and fundamental research into new methodologies and knowledge needed for emerging design processes at the intersection of machine learning, data processing and visualisation, and legal and developmental frameworks. Its research is dedicated to testing new interdisciplinary forms of designing and evaluation, hereby studying the impact of machine learning and governmental policies on spatial design. The lab is currently working on a pilot study to analyse housing interiors and their spatial organisation with the aid of machine learning to generate new insights into housing design and standards. The aim is to develop alternative definitions of quality based on statistical and quantitative data, not just qualitative assessment criteria. The work explores how grounding discussions of policy, standards, and design on a solid, reliable body of empirical evidence can change the way we understand our domestic environments as well as the design and policy decisions that emerge from them. A key research question is whether if a new kind of evidence will produce a new kind of judgement; that is, can housing be designed and legislated beyond typological and activity-based planning through spatial models and data sets that work across different forms of organisation and scales?
On 15 April 1989, a disaster of a mass stamped took place during a football match in the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. 96 people lost their lives and 766 people were severely injured. The tragedy not only forever changed football and guidelines on how to control large crowds for such mass events, but it also changed the architecture of sports ground and, in fact, the space of social gatherings in general.
Prior to 1975 there was no specific legal structure for the design and use of sports grounds and the first law devised by the government was extremely ambivalent and left the responsibility for the decision-making process to the local councils. It was not until the Taylor report of 1990 and the Green Guide to Safety at Sorts Grounds that forced both local authorities and football clubs to act by implementing new guidelines of crowd management. The resolve of the government was so great that within a few years the majority of football grounds in the UK were no longer deemed fit-for-purpose. The main problem from an architectural point of view was the crowd control and this could only be resolved through all-seater venues and the addition of a safety zone around the venue which could act as a buffer in the event of large number of people trying to move in a certain direction. Most of the sports grounds in the UK were privately owned which meant either purchasing additional land around the stadium or relocating.
This paper aims to reflect on the effect of a sequence of tragic events and the resulting changes in legislation for the design process of sports grounds. Within months of Hillsborough a new generation of this building typology emerged which is distinctly different from its predecessors. The constrains set by the new legislation created very specific conditions for the performance of stadia that could only be comprehensively implemented by thinking parametrically about their design. To analyse the process of transformation of design thinking, this paper will present several aspects of parametric based methodology for the planning of this type of buildings and will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the utilisation of machine learning in the analysis of the safety and efficiency of stadium design in the context of the wider typological group of assembly buildings.
In autumn 2018 Christie’s auction house sold a painting to an anonymous phone bidder who won with the offer of 432,500 USD, a price more than 43 times the 10,000 USD pre-auction estimate. Christie’s has a centuries-long tradition of making high-value sales with many transactions exceeding millions of dollars but what really drew media attention to the sale was not the price, but the authorship of the piece: The portrait of Edmond de Bellamy of La Famille de Belamy series was created by a computer algorithm, developed by an arts collective called Obvious.
This paper interrogates the learning process of algorithms that can create such works of art. It asks how a new engagement with our art and architecture collections through algorithmic replication can help us to gain an alternative understanding of the works and their past and, by extension, of the society in which they were created. Can we look at the history of architecture and deploy an intelligent, non-human agent to show us what is yet to be learnt?
Building on the works of data philosophers like Matteo Pasquinelli, N. Katherine Hayles and Luciana Parisi, this paper will present experiments with machine vision algorithm-trained to recognise different architectural styles. The recognition process is captured and illustrated to visualise the machine’s understanding of an image. The machine-generated patterns are analysed in an effort to better understand the nature of the contemporary visual condition under the algorithmic governmentality and its relationship to architectural representation. In doing so, the paper aims to address whether the role of the algorithm can be considered as a critical medium beyond its statistical capacity. The paper will also present work with the open-source data from Pinterest and photographs from the RIBA collection to explore the difference between highly curated data sets and user-generated content and their respective implications for algorithmic learning.
It was not the western modernist style that changed the character of Dubai, but the introduction of its capitalist financial structures. The area now known as the United Arab Emirates has been inhabited for thousands of years. As a result of the hot desert climate, its inhabitants were versatile tribesmen, who adopted nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyles. Subsisting on a variety of economic activities, such as animal husbandry, agriculture and hunting, their labour also capitalised on the natural ports along the coastline. These ports became major regional trading and maritime hubs in the export of gold and pearls and a centre for hardwood, steel, food and labour.
With the demise of the British empire came the deindustrialisation of its economy. With industry relocated to lower-cost countries, the 1960s saw offshore branches of British banks established to protect against sterling devaluation by capital flight. These regional hubs, primarily ex-colonial trading centres operating under British influence or protection were also characterised by their light-touch approach to regulation. With regional access to shadow economies, these invisible instruments with no formal link to Britain or its regulatory codes, sometimes known as secrecy jurisdictions, captured compliant and noncompliant global wealth and acted as financial conduits to the City of London, itself a distinct jurisdiction. Such offshore operations also provided an export market for commercial and financial services, which in the 1980s supported the financialisation of the British economy and the growth of international speculation.
In 1974, Sheikh Rashid commissioned his trusted British architect, John R Harris, to design a World Trade Centre, the city’s first skyscraper to announce to the world that Dubai was open for business. This vision was reinforced by noting its British built quality, to demonstrate Dubai’s access to British design and engineering. The buildings components, such as its glass, aluminium and air conditioning were manufactured in Britain and shipped to Port Rashid, and there were even press releases providing reassurance that British engineers were overseeing the mixing of concrete. The only major part of the building that was not British were the people who assembled it, mostly from Pakistan and living temporarily in barracks at the tower’s base. The tower was inaugurated by the Her Majesty the Queen in 1979, its first tenant being British international oil and gas company BP, and received a high profile visit by the recently appointed British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1980, on a trip to sell arms to the UAE.