Category Archives: automated environments

Termite Pavilion

This pavilion was made by 3D scanning a termite mound and enlarging it to fit humans before being milled and assembled.  I think such analogies will be useful, especially in ideas of reconstruction, memory, and such.




From Wikipedia:

Lithification is a process of porosity destruction through compaction and cementation. Lithification includes all the processes which convert unconsolidated sediments into sedimentary rocks. Petrification, though often used as a synonym, is more specifically used to describe the replacement of organic material by silica in the formation of fossils. In geology consolidation is a synonym for lithification.

A library of simple diagrams of geological processes.

The aesthetics of striation as a result of lithification.

The aesthetics of tafoni as a result of erosion.

Modelling of compaction (packing) (also, lithification) through computation.


Bacteria Aggregate and Tafoni Stone

Bacillus pasteurii is a “microorganism, readily available in marshes and wetlands, [that] solidifies loose sand into sandstone.”  Check out a BLDG BLOG post about a proposal for the Sahara desert here.

“The structure is made straight from the dunescape by flushing a particular bacteria through the loose sand… which causes a biological reaction whereby the sand turns into sandstone; the initial reactions are finished within 24 hours, though it would take about a week to saturate the sand enough to make the structure habitable.  The project – a kind of bio-architectural test-landscape – would thus go from a balloon-like pneumatic structure filled with bacillus pasteurii, which would then be released into the sand and allowed to solidify the same into a permacultural architecture.”

The final result can also be imagined by observing Tafoni stone formations, even though in this case it’s erosion rather than aggregation that’s taking place.  There’s some of this stone in Germany, actually.


swarm urbanism

Some inspiration from kokkugia

From the project Swarm Urbanism…

“Agency operates through two main processes within this proposal: firstly by using design agents to self-organise urban matter and secondly encoding intelligence into urban elements and topologies.”

“Agents within this system are not generic, instead there is an ecology of agent systems which interact, each set of agents programmed with their own desires and information.”

There are two key points here that they use to relate a swarm model to urban phenomena. First, the interaction between agents and their landscape. The agents have a series of behaviors, but they are also directly affected by information that is stored in the landscape, and the landscape itself is affected by the agents. This is the basic definition of an ecosystem.

Second, there is a hierarchy of agents, each performing their own task. In this model, there is a group of agents who aggregate matter, similar to the behavior of termites in building a colony. A second class of agents operates more like a slime mold, to build infrastructure by connecting certain locations in a minimal system.

I think both of these points are crucial when starting to think about how swarm models can be applied to think of the organization of a city.


Adaptive Environments

folks that are obsessed with Roche.

Done with swarm scripts in Roland’s class at Penn.

How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web

Gooogle is still the only company whose name is synonymous with the verb search

PageRank, the generally accepted metric of, among other things, how often a page is linked to, is only a small part of the larger story at Google. Talking to Google’s engineers and tracing the history of publicly announced search features, Levy discovers that a good deal of what Google has learned about search comes from the searchers themselves.

Take, for instance, the way Google’s engine learns which words are synonyms. “We discovered a nifty thing very early on,” Singhal says. “People change words in their queries. So someone would say, ‘pictures of dogs,’ and then they’d say, ‘pictures of puppies.’ So that told us that maybe ‘dogs’ and ‘puppies’ were interchangeable. We also learned that when you boil water, it’s hot water. We were relearning semantics from humans, and that was a great advance.”


Copenhagen Wheel

The Copenhagen Wheel is a new emblem for urban mobility. It transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. The Copenhagen Wheel allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time.