As we’ve evolved through time as a human species in society, our comprehensive understanding of the world has shifted our mindset away from objects and things, and we’ve become engaged toward future ideologies and data. This process pushes the boundaries of the brain to develop views of abstract perceptions, where transpersonal communication exists between form and aesthetics.
Neuroscientist and sculptor Kamran Fallahpour, Ph.D. dialogues with Nuru Karim, Founder & Principal at Nude Offices, about the periodicity of parametric design, its attenuation and developmental role it plays on civilization and our psyche.
KAMRAN FALLAHPOUR: As the industrial revolution sets out to architect human intellect, how do these digital processes impact design?
NURU KARIM: Each age was marked by the evolution of technology and materials; the Stone Age, Bronze Age, the Iron Age, etc. A century of experimentation was necessary, and the progress in the use of technology was slow. Never before the 20th century has mankind seen technological advancements’ evolution so accelerated. While the Industrial Revolution produced tools to augment the Body [steam engine, automobile . . .], the information revolution has made tools to extend the “Intellect.” The Digital Revolution combined with digital production (argued as also the third age of the Industrial revolution) has much delight to offer in the future.
KAMRAN FALLAHPOUR: Our ability for survival was once defined by our physical strength, and today the true testament of our endurance is the maturation of our brain’s mental capacity to discover new technological frontiers.
VENÜ: Can parametric architecture foster sustainable interaction between nature and the built environment?
NK: Nature is a vast source of inspiration. In the 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, Author and biologist Janine Benyus argues using nature as a mentor, model, and measure “because animals, plants and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have discovered what works, fits in, and lasts here on Earth. After 3.8 billion years of R&D, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.” Parametric tools based on algorithmic models of computation have the capacity to co-relate the relationship between mathematics and nature beyond traditional models of exploring architectural space production merely as “metaphors.” These relationships between the built environment and nature have been manifested through biomimetic technologies and biophilic designs, arguing for a more profound connection with nature, especially in the post-pandemic world.
KF: Parametric architecture and design transcend how nature allows life forms to unfold naturally and organically in the most sustainable and efficacious way. This type of design borrows from nature to derive maximum efficiency and strength with a minimum number of variables and resources. That’s where the true magic is!
KF: What are some of the problems that parametric design can help us overcome?
NK: We understand parametric design tools as a “systems” approach that empowers architects to explore and investigate design as a “bottom-up” process. We clearly don’t see it as an architectural style but as a highly effective collaboration to explore new paradigms of “seeing” & “observing.” These models are no longer about form generation but are data-driven. Design systems have an enormous impact across the entire pipeline of a project, including concept design, concept validation, design development, fabrication, and construction administration. Our design studio has been deploying the usage of parametric tools to address issues such as climate change, social impact and sustainable technologies. While our “Book Worm Pavilion” addresses the role of “education as empowerment,” project “Rain Water Catcher” critiqued iconic monumental symbolism of the past and conveyed a powerful message “water is life!”
KF: In neuroscience, we look for the minimum number of variables within a brain network that can provide an explanation for the principles of neuro-dynamic programming and its expansive complex task sequences. Examining the most tangible and concrete things, such as how colonies and buildings are built, our living spaces mimic the construction of ideas on a social and philosophical level. Art is the pipeline to our humanity, indelible to how curiosity makes up our fundamental characteristics that contribute to our actions and, ultimately, our future!
VENÜ: From a sculptural perspective and in your opinion, what will be the most stable and self-containing shapes of building in our future cities to engage healthier social and environmental relations that help to achieve a net-zero environment?
NK: Shapes” of future cities/buildings will be governed by “Circular” economies, exploring “cradle” to “cradle” networks. Designs that produce from waste and also produce very little will be cornerstones of this philosophy, including impact on the earth’s resources and combating climate change. Architects have a moral and ethical responsibility to spearhead this revolution.
KF: Neuroscientific shapes that are sustainable in design don’t feel intrusive or integrative; they denote a feeling of a cohesive network that’s reciprocal at various levels to achieve a message of stability. At the same time, this leaves room for perpetual development that’s in line with its core and essential elements.
VENÜ: Is parametric acoustics important in your practice? If so, what kind of tonalities are you implementing in your work. In the project with FLY RANCH?
NK: As discussed, parametric design is a tool that empowers designers and is clearly not an “architectural style.” Where the “Solar Mountain” is concerned, parametric design tools were deployed to explore the relationship between sustainable land, art, architecture, and technology. These tools also have a great deal to offer where design optimization is concerned, leading to the fabrication and installation process.
KF: As our understanding of ourselves and our immediate environment becomes more expansive, we become more mindful of how sound impacts our physical body, emotions, psyche and brain states. When designing spaces and environments such as hospitals and schools, where these factors are heavily taken into account and tonality is not an entirely new concept, technological tools have become more advanced to design environments for sound consumption and specification.
KF: Do you believe that form follows function or is it that functionality is only limited by our constraints?
NK: We define “function” as a verb best served to positively impact the planet and influence social change. A building needs to perform its primary purpose, which matters are governed by socio-economic forces; however, architects and designers have a much greater responsibility spanning over generations. Architecture’s actual “function” needs to be re-addressed in this context as a primary ethical responsibility.
KF: Form has its own function; forms and design structures emotionally and physiologically impact us; and therefore, they have their own function.
Burning Man Project and the Land Art Generator Initiative collaborated to create the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch design challenge, inviting innovators and creatives to propose regenerative projects for Fly Ranch, an off-grid 3,800-acre ranch in the Great Basin. The objective is to build the foundational infrastructure for Fly Ranch to support Burning Man Project’s 2030 sustainability goals that engage a global audience to work together towards systemic transformation, serving as an inspiration for the developing field of regenerative design.” “Solar Mountain” has been selected to move on to the prototyping stage, designed to be an interactive installation on the land of Fly Ranch, which is home to dozens of hot and cold springs, three geysers, hundreds of acres of wetlands, dozens of animal species, and more than 100 types of plants. The mountain blends into the landscape, seamlessly resonating with the idea of a unified community and a space for people to connect. The narrative has been divided into three parts of “Grow Energy,” “Interact” and “Play.” The fabrication uses recycled wood for net-zero principles to address more significant issues such as climate change and global warming.