The House of Librango
At a time when the convergence of computation and biogenetics is ushering all of us into the so-called post-human era, an immanent future that is destined to be filled with various forms of biogenetic mutation at every level of the organic and the inorganic, ranging from transgenic mutation of crops to the synthesis of new forms of species including human clones, that constitutes the cultural universe of humanity while simultaneously enveloped by what, currently, is referred to as the inevitable emergence of a global ubiquitous computing system that connects everything with everything imaginable, what are we to make of architecture, the world of habitation constituted by cites, buildings, people, robots, artificial life and species, autonomous agents and abstract machines endowed with artificial intelligence predicated on having the potential will to being? Without a doubt, the world of architecture will be transformed. Architecture, after all, is the site for the ultimate expression the dynamic interactions of all its inhabitants, be they human beings or abstract machines that participate in the genesis and construction of possible worlds within a general economy constituted by both factual and counterfactual ingredients. The emergence of what Kevin Kelly refers to as a neo-biological civilization at the heels of our planetary culture will become the substance of the fabric of reality: the world wide web of computing systems that are destined to envelop the planet Earth.
The project for the studio is to design Architectural Agents, each endowed with varying degrees of autonomy and interiority, which incarnates itself into a building or something. What is an agent? An agent is the locus of will and determination. An architectural agent, like all agents, must somehow be in a position to embody an internal principle of its own w which can then give rise to the development of an internal will to being: the will to the artificial life of architecture while interacting symbiotically with the ecology of a given environment: the city of Buenos Aries. Buenos Aries, known as the Paris of South America, is a city with its complex historical admixtures, made up both internally and externally, by European life styles, food, tango, religion, economy, ranches, workers, bourgeois, and indigenous cultures, etc. Currently, the notion of autonomy is a taboo subject matter especially in the aftermath of the deconstruction of subjectivity, which is not without legitimate reason. Yet, we are now moving into a new era when architecture can once again be conceived in terms of autonomous or semi-autonomous agents in mutual cooperation of freedoms with human societies. Autonomy is the fundamental concept that establishes the necessary condition for the emergence of democracy. We can therefore think in terms of the emergence of a new form of democratic architecture with the freedom to constitute an internal will to being. Architecture historically is conceived as a performative medium in terms of its use-value, and seldom, except in the rare instances such as Palladio and a few other architects in history, is it conceived as having an agency within itself and, by extension, an internal will to being. If architecture can once again be in the position to embody the concept of autonomy, it must do so not in terms of classical metaphysics but in terms of a yet to be discovered metaphysical modality that takes into consideration developments in cognitive science, neural networks, computation and genetics in order to develop what at present is still unthinkable: the genesis of subjectivity that constitutes the artificial life of architecture.
In this regard, what is architecture? How will it be affected? Will it remain the same? Is Man still the center of the universe? What will cities be like? Cities, as we all know, cannot simply be identified with the brick and stones that constitute them: they are emergent expressions of semiological regimes of meaning and transactions, which are historical to the core. In addition, the phenomenon of globalization, a spectral landscape envisioned by the capitalist regime is a virtual, albeit global phantasmagoric chamber impinging into our consciousness not unlike that of a supreme fiction with an ecumenical ambition akin to the role mythology plays in ancient times. Information is the currency that drives all these developments. With computation, the machine is no longer in the garden, as Le Corbusier once remarked, but, architecture no becomes a Garden in the Machine: An Architectural Agent of Librango. As such, an architectural agent will be some kind of an abstract machine, not in the Newtonian sense of the mechanization of the universe of architecture, but in the vein of artificial life and abstract mnemonic systems partially stemming from the convergence of computation and biogenetics and partially resonating with the archaeology of both the past and the future ...
To put it simply, the project for the studio will to design, preferably some kind of building construction, which simultaneously embody a genetic principle to propel it into existence as well as a virtual internal program that each student must define for the building as a representation for the Agent of Librango. Librango is a term derived from the conjunction of two words: library and tango – the tango of INFORMATION, factual and counterfactual that together constitute the currency of the Artificial Life of Buenos Aries: the physio-virtual fabric of reality.
The project is not to design a tango parlor in the library, unless the student wishes to, but something more creative: the marriage of the autonomy of genetic information wit the symbiotic ecology of Buenos Aries. It is a proactive manifesto that, through architecture, the city of Buenos Aries faces the future of its own possibilities or possible worlds ...
Studio Critic: Karl Chu