FACEBOOK FLAGSHIP: CELLULAR AUTOMATA
STUDIO: thesis, retail urbanism
YEAR: five (5)
DATE: spring, 2012
DESIGN LENGTH: one (1) month
SUPPORT: alvin huang (principal, synthesis design + architecture)
PROJECT SITE: conceptual
PROGRAM: flagship retail store
Just as Facebook's mission has evolved since its conception in 2004, and will continue to do so as its platform for networking radically responds to future trends, the architecture of retail must be able to spatially and programmatically respond to the changing needs of both Facebook and the user. Because the future of retail has and will increasingly rely on digital methods of exchange, digital information may determine the programmatic use of space. Architecture can imagine the future of Facebook's digital exchange of social connectivity by physically responding and transforming to the input and outputs of the building 'users'. In other words, space and form that physically morphs to accommodate the needs of the individual person and the aggregation of multiple people and their collective mindsets or needs. Perhaps, built space may even begin to become optimized toward the digital repository of information stored on each user's Facebook 'profile', already an optimized representation of those persons created identities. Architecturally, we may begin to think of the future of retail space as tailored to the specific informational storehouse a brand like Facebook gathers and collects.
Taking a cue from John Conway's Game of Life - where an established set of rules and alterable set of seed conditions produce a seemingly organic-like mutation of pixels on a grid that 'grow' or 'die', 'mutate' or 'evolve' into patterns and structures 2-dimentionally - architecture can 3-dimentionally be generated as a set of rules from conditions that is academically termed 'cellular automata'. Furthermore, it would be the aggregation of a certain set of original seed conditions (the architecture) and a set of rules (the Facebook user information) that would dictate the program of the space and even the space itself.
And just like the game of life, there are certain physical conditions or patterns that result from specific seed conditions that can be predicted and planned. Patterns like 'oscillators', 'still life', or 'spaceships' may translate architecturally into forms for seating, gathering, and other social programs. Rather than a top-down organization of form and space, it is a bottom-up generator of form that tailors to the top-down functional programmatic needs of the user. Generative design from generative algorithms.
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