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Induction Design by Makoto Sei Watanabe (2002)

Form follows Evolution150925_InductionDesign_01

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Do computers dream? In this book the japanese architect Makoto Sei Watanabe shows interesting perspectives of computergenerated design. Computerprograms design our cities and houses on their own; they analyze and recognize situations and generate solutions for complex surroundings. Watanabe intends ‚Induction Design’ to be a kind of ‚Evolutionary Design’ and describes the computer as an extension of the human brain. In spite of ordinary design, he is not interested in a spezial architectonic form, but in the complex structure of the design process itself. The aim of his research is to bring design closer to science.

This book is an Odyssey toward a new design method, which promises to design our cities and architecture in a better way. It shows the stepwise development of Watanabe´s research. Like in a soft evolutionary process errors will be eliminated and successful paths will be deepened. The perspective, the access and the vocabulary can be understood especially by architects, designers, people interested in computers and scientists. The result is a remarkable view into the future of computergenerated design.

The basis for Watanabe´s research ist he simple theoretical principle inside the complex form. Are there „… simple principles hidden within what appears to be utter disorder ?“, he asks the reader. As examples he presents the growth of trees and fish according to similar, simple algorithms. He shows fractal analysis of cities silhouettes and questions these pictures according to ‚Horton´s Law’, a common basis for many natural phenomena.

Afterwards Watanabe presents his research up to now. He describes the different phases of the ‚Induction Cities Project’; there were first experimental trials at the beginning of the 90ies, later the development of design programs for structural city planning. The ‚Sun-God City’, ‚Generated City Blocks’, ‚City of Hills’, ‚Sun-God City-2’, die ‚Wind-God City’ and the ‚On-Demand City’ were developed. His topical project ‚Subway Station Iidabashi’ will be the first architectural project realized by the method of ‚Induction Design’. The Computer generates possibilities of a spatial framework (‚web frame’), according to the given surroundings:

“The Architectural Seed germinates deep in the ground, 35 meters below the city (Seeking more water, more light …). After a time, its underground stem reaches the surface and there, a flower blooms. This is called ‚wing’.“ – Makoto Sei Watanabe

What will bring the future? Watanabe predicts the development of intelligent CAD-programs (‚i-CAD’ or ‚agent CAD’). Like a personal assistant, the software recognizes the aimed design and makes indivudual proposals for different solutions.

At the time Watanabe experiments with programs, dealing with so called ‚soft’ or ‚emotional’ factors in the design process. It might be interesting to wait fort he realization of the ‚Tukuba Express Projekts’, a computergenerated circuit between a ‚Generation Module’ and an ‚Evaluation Module’.

„ … the purpose is not to discover form. The purpose is to discover ways of making cities and architecture that provide better solutions to the problems facing the world while at the same time offering greater freedom to the imagination.“ – Makoto Sei Watanabe

Makoto Sei Watanabe was born in Yokohama in 1952, graduated from Yokohama National University in 1976. In 1979 he joined Arata Isozaki & Associates in Tokyo and in 1984 he established Makoto Sei Watanabe / Architects Office. He is a lecturer at Tokyo Denki University, Hosei University and Yokohama National University.

Wolfgang Höhl (2003): Form follows Evolution, Book Review on the publication of Makoto Sei Watanabe (2002): Induction Design – A Method for Evolutionary Design, Birkhäuser, Basel 2002, published in DBZ online

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