Complexity, Human Agents, and Architectural Design: A Computational Framework

By Yin Gao and Ning Gu.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It seems self-evident that architectural design has a strong impact on human activities. In addition to the basic architectural design considerations such as aesthetics and safety, the complexity of the interaction between human activities and architectural design deserve thorough investigation. Such investigations not only gain more understanding of the dynamics of the interaction between human beings and the built environment, but also provide insights on how to improve architectural or urban designs to fulfill the intended purposes. There are a few case studies investigating how spatial features of a building or an urban setting either facilitate or inhibit a particular type of human activity (Gieryn, 1999; Frank et al, 2003). Gieryn analyzed how the architectural design of the Lewis Thomas Laboratory (LTL) at Princeton University has enhanced collaboration among the researchers and students because of a specific spatial feature of the lab. Lawrence Frank and his team have done an comprehensive study on how the contemporary urban sprawl prevent people including physical activity in their daily life leading to dire medical consequences such as obesity. However, there is no systematic study on the complexity of the interaction between human agents and architectural design. This project aims to develop a computational framework capable of accommodating computer simulations to investigate the complexity of the interaction between architectural design and human agents. The simulation will be focus on investigating how the spatial characteristics of the built environments impact on the activities of agents with different population sizes, and different temporal characteristic, ie, being active at different times and/or different durations.

Keywords: Complexity, Architectural Design, Human Agent

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.115-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.308MB).

Dr. Yin Gao

Lecturer, The School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Yin Gao has done extensive research on complex system theory and its philosophical implications in terms its impacts on our understanding of a) the interaction between human agents, the built environment, and ecological environment, especially in the case of engineering systems; b) the impacts of the architectural design in laboratory on research activities; c) the development of science and technology in terms of the dynamics and organization of their practice. With her work on complex system theory, she has applied complex system framework in analyzing the organizational and dynamic properties of scientific and technological practice. This work involves examining: i) the epistemological processes in various scientific and technological research and development settings; ii) the physical infrastructure of science including scientific and technological instrument design and construction, laboratory design, communication network building, etc; iii) the impacts on such infrastructural systems on scientific practice and organization; iv) the dynamic properties of such infrastructural systems, as well as interactions among these systems.

Dr. Ning Gu

Lecturer, School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Ning Gu is a lecturer in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He researches in the broad areas of design computing, particularly, in generative design systems, collaborative design and BIM. Ning is a pioneer of applying leading-edge information technologies in design and learning, and has established a number of international collaborative design studios in virtual worlds such as Second Life and Active Worlds. He has also designed and implemented a wide variety of collaborative virtual world environments and applied them in his research and teaching for numerous Australian and international tertiary design institutions including the University of Newcastle, University of Sydney, MIT and Columbia University. He has published extensively in the field of design computing and design education. He is a committee member for international conferences of CAADRIA 2010, CONVR 2009 and ANZAScA 2008 and a reviewer for a wide range of journals and conferences in the field. His career highlights include receiving major research grants of over AUD$650,000 from Australian Research Council (ARC) and Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation (CRC-CI).


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