“The Highway” Masters Studio Project
RMIT University, 2014
Supervisor: Roland Snooks

This project attempts to use algorithmic means to imbue the intent of the designer into the project.

It attempts to challenge the normality of simply applying existing algorithms to architecture through the creation of customised behaviours that address real architectural problems. In this sense, it becomes sculpting through lines of code and tweaks of parameters attempting to remove the “manual” input. It is, therefore, an attempt to highlight the difference between an architectural algorithm versus an applied algorithm. It begins with an agent-based algorithm, those generally used to simulate things such as schools of fish or flocks of birds. This is used due to the ability to make many complex decisions at a local scale and have emergent global outcomes.

In this case the simplicity of the highway infrastructure means programmatically the algorithm is dealing with sound attenuation walls and pedestrian bridges. Through a highly technical feat, the algorithm performs and responds to FEA analysis, locally attempting to alter its form to allow greater structural performance. The last factor is simply that of personal taste, or beauty, which in this case is an attempt to create highly excessive and complex form that still is cohesive across scales.

A prototype (see additional links) is useful to demonstrate that this is not design that simply remains in the abstract, but a realistic proposal, accessible at the human scale, and grounded in build-able (albeit expensive) form.

Through this we propose that algorithmic design currently leans far too heavily on simply application of existing systems. Algorithmic design should take into account a much greater spectrum of architecture, not just beauty, and be intricately tailored to a project, rather than found and applied.