Architectural Anamnesis

  • Ted Krueger Renselaer Polytechnic Institute
Keywords: design space, fitness landscapes, visibility, transparency, anamnesis


This paper is concerned with how conceptual frameworks, disciplinary perspectives, and personal and cultural histories shape the available range of solutions to design problems. Two notions central to the argument relate directly to the conference theme: visibility and transparency. In both cases, the terms apply, not to physical or phenomenal conditions, but to the conceptual frameworks that guide design and research activity. Grounding the visibility/transparency analogy are the related concepts of fitness landscapes and design space drawn from genetics and from evolved hardware. These terms designate the graph of all possible solutions and their degree of optimization with respect to certain criteria. Algorithms and organisms are seen to move across this landscape occupying more or less favorable positions. In order to illustrate the notion of visibility, I use Thompson’s experiments in evolving hardware using genetic algorithms. This allows a comparison of the solution space searched by the algorithm and that accessed by human circuit designers. I show that cultural frameworks, such as the concept of the ‘digital’, restrict the kinds of solutions that are available to human designers. Cultural frameworks outline the range of visibility into solution spaces. Transparency is introduced in reference to the digital framework in circuit design as a specific case of a more general property of tools that have been long and successfully wielded. Disciplinary and cultural frameworks that have become transparent through extended use are most difficult to identify and transform, yet profoundly affect the kinds of solutions that can be ‘seen’. The recovery and exposure of these invisible assumptions might be guided might be guided by the kinds of problems encountered. My intention, by making explicit the relation between frameworks and design solutions, is that designers will come to actively manage the frameworks they employ in solving design problems.
How to Cite
Krueger, T. (2013). Architectural Anamnesis. ARCC Conference Repository.
Peer-reviewed Papers