Architecture as interdisciplinary practice

The act of producing architecture is a collaborative, interdisciplinary exercise. Architects design with knowledge from many branches of study. Architecture involves the coordination of building projects, which themselves are products of a wide range of technologies and systems. Buildings are constructed and procured within a complex ecology of different disciplines, building trades, economic markets, and legal regulations. However, developments in digital technology continue to introduce new design methods and tools to the practice of architecture. Performance simulation, information modelling, and algorithmic design are now part of the expected skillset of the architect, and these new skills require knowledge from multiple disciplines.

The potentials of digital technology

Information technology has introduced new potentials for building designers and Smartgeometry is at the forefront in the exploration of this territory. Computational design and digital manufacturing are creating changes in the design process, often shifting the boundaries of disciplinary roles. Perhaps more fundamentally, as the tools of design change, so does the cognitive structure of the architect’s own mind. As Brett Steele writes, the value of Smartgeometry’s collective, collaborative and sustained focus lies not only in helping to define the role of information-based approaches to architectural design, but also in the making of the most difficult of all architectures, the architect’s own cognitive structure.

The challenge for interdisciplinary collaboration

With new digital tools comes the potential for new knowledge, new collaborations, and new ways of thinking. The notion of interdisciplinarity refers to the integration of two or more disciplines focused on a complex problem, and in this new landscape of interdisciplinary working lies the potential to address some of architecture’s most challenging problems, for example: designing better performing buildings, decreasing environmental impact, and developing new manufacturing techniques. At sg2016, designers and researchers will operate between, across, and at the edge of their own disciplines. They are challenged question how they work and connect and borrow from other disciplines, thereby creating new hybrid domains.

The sg2016 Workshop challenges participants to tackle problems that span different knowledge realms. Clusters will connect distinct research domains and will be coordinated by champions from different disciplines (likely one architect and one nonarchitect). The Cluster participants will collaborate to solve a complex and connected problem. Issues of communication, representation, prototyping, and simulation will be critical to address, and fullscale prototyping is encouraged. Cluster champions are asked to propose a series of linked research questions, outline the framework of interdisciplinary collaboration, propose methods, and predict Workshop outcomes.