Built Social Network

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Bachelorthesis 2013/14 - Martin Dennemark

Built Social Network - The Digitalization of Praticipatory Processes

Chair for City Planning - Prof. Joachim Schultz-Granberg

msa - m√ľnster school of architecture

2. Price - Auf IT gebaut - 2015

This Bachelorthesis explores the roots of information technology in the 60s and 70s with its structuralistic and cybernetic movements and its influence on architecture. The target was, to find new ways of participation in the design process.

The 60s and 70s built a lot of groundwork for our times, people were very curious in many different fields on how systems, structures, technologies could assist us in the future. Information technologies for example explored various ways on programming machines. It was a whole new field that had to be explored.

The 60s and 70s built a lot of groundwork for our times...

Architects were influenced by these developments and cybernetics, structuralistic thinking that also evolved in linguistics. They, too, developed new organisational forms for our built environment. They imagined new ways for participation and on how to satisfy different demands. Hence they tried to find adaptive systems.

Nowadays this phase of experimentation is part of the past, education somehow became dogmatic. (Have a look at this great video!) But recent developments let to a reconsideration of those old approaches. I was trying to explore organisational systems for participatory processes from the view of contemporary information technologies. I thought for myself, that we are less constraint than those pioneers, because IT opens us new ways of communication, simulation and geometrical calculation. If we use data effectivly, we can build up flexible systems allowing people to participate.

Now, 3 years later, I know that IT is not the answer to participatory processes, it is just one way. Digital tools have to proof against analogous tools to be efficient. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and it lays in the hand of the architect to reflect especially ethically on how to use technologies. I personally am criticising this project especially in terms of a fixed structure.

Digital tools have to proof against analogous tools to be efficient.

It does not differ a lot from those structuralistic architectures from the 60s and 70s, since I have setup a framework that only allows the participants to choose apartments, but does not involve them in the design of the system. Developing an open framework that allows changes of rules is the challenge architects should face! Some architects might fear giving away competence and that they are not able to design the final outcome. This is often a critique on digital tools as well as participation. They fear losing control. But giving up control and inviting uncertainty gives architects even more reason to take responsibility about our built environment. An open framework needs continous care of architects to frame and reframe rules. They have to communicate the constraints of space and architecture and negotiate the demands of people.

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