The Adaptive, Developmental and Evolutionary Capacity of Multiscale Structures and Systems

Image 1: Multi Scale Flow Map #755 Cross-Scale Porosity Series V – LINKSCALE – Maj Plemenitas 2012

 

Water is the driving force of nature as well as civilisation on Planet Earth.

The world’s major water-related questions are complex, systemic, interconnected and urgent.

To live with water requires one to have a fundamental understanding of its free, state and shape changing behaviours and multiscale nature, as well as its constructive, destructive and transformative powers.

Water’s multivalent character can be perceived as a force, symbol or material with the ability to change, flow, mix, dissolve, solidify and vaporise, while simultaneously possessing political or symbolic value and the ability of trespassing or establishing boundaries.

These complex, coexistent yet sometimes contradicting qualities call for a fundamental shift from problem solving and isolated, non-contextual design and governance methods, and a turn towards multiscale relations and synthesis, between the objectives, processes, external or internal constraints and behaviours. It is vital to understand that the full potential cannot be realized, and responsible decisions cannot be taken, without understanding the relations and identification of the potentials that exist between various interacting systems, specialised disciplines or distinct political positions. Multiscale synthesis is the key to understanding and unlocking the latent capacity that furthermore enables engagement with the complex questions of our time and future that cannot be tackled by any individual discipline.

The work presented in this paper is a segment of a broader, continuously growing field of research into Cross-Scale Design (CSD). CSD is a strategy focused on activation of the expanded effective operational scale range that enables effective design, decision making and engagement with complex, dynamic, multiscale systems and questions that are beyond the effective range of traditional design practice. This is achieved by utilisation of spatial, temporal or operational scale specific relations and dynamics. The relational strategy enables and promotes multi-objective design, decision making and governance by including the desired design processes and their resulting spatial, temporal, and operational outputs with dynamic, external, reoccurring, as well as acute and unexpected interferences.

Cross-scale relations refer to processes at one spatial, temporal or operational scale interacting with processes at another scale. The interactions effect, alter or promote the relationships between processes and patterns across scales. This can result, for example, in small-scale processes that can influence a broad spatial extent or large-scale conditions that can interact with small-scale processes to curate complex system dynamics. Within and between these systems and structures the information is translated, embedded, encoded, stored, processed and retrieved. The designed, curated and orchestrated memory systems operate across a broad scale range and utilise the embedded thresholds to trigger encoded behavioural protocols that rely on contextual fluctuations and utilise them as the vital generative force for growth, adaptation, development and evolution.

The strategy utilises the inherent system dynamics to perform as a generative accelerator, allowing and promoting the continuous relational behavioural design control, by establishing, defining, and re-negotiating the relations between the encoded behaviours and contextual fluctuation. The inherent dynamic is not constrained only to a reactive, responsive or adaptive capacity, but enables continuous developmental potential within the lifecycle, by promoting partial or complete reconfiguration based on continuous additive, substitutional, metamorphic and subtractive processes, and opening the evolutionary potential through the course of multiple developmental generations and by active exponential progression of the collective memory. Rather than focusing solely on problem solving, the strategy focuses on the comprehensive multi-trophic nature of coexisting matter and information-based systems, and enables their latent generative potential. The approach introduces the fundamental shift from isolated, non-contextual design and production methods, by integrating the design process, external and internal relations and the generative building machine into the fabric itself, and focuses on the design of a lifecycle rather than a finite state output. The strategy will be demonstrated through interventions that utilise a specific operational scale to orchestrate the change that affects larger spatial and temporal operational scale ranges. Furthermore, the presented case studies will redefine the strategic interfaces between the multi-scale structures and hydrological systems with adaptive, developmental and evolutionary capacity.

 

Image 2 (left): Multi-scale constituents and convergent assembly. CSD 2016/17 Directed by Maj Plemenitas, with researchers Oliver Ledezma, Ian Tu. Photo Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas
Image 3 (right): Multi-scale constituents and divergent disassembly to base constituents. Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2015 (on-going research). Photo Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas

 

Image 4: Orchestration of multi-material loose granular solids (state 0) with water flow. Bartlett CSD Research 2011 (on-going). Image 5: Erosion of fixed multi-material matter (state 1) with embedded granular solids that orchestrate the erosion process. Bartlett CSD Research 2011 (ongoing).
Image 4: Orchestration of multi-material loose granular solids (state 0) with water flow. Bartlett CSD Research 2011 (on-going).
Image 5: Erosion of fixed multi-material matter (state 1) with embedded granular solids that orchestrate the erosion process. Bartlett CSD Research 2011 (ongoing).

 

 

1. Embedding and Multiscale Identity

Adaptation – Activation of behaviours and processes that are altered based on the change of the relations between spatial, temporal or operational scales

Image 6: Multiscale porosity, The Infrastructural Network. Research by Linkscale 2012-2017.
Image 6: Multiscale porosity, The Infrastructural Network. Research by Linkscale 2012-2017. 

The concept of multiscale identity is the basis for understanding of cross-scale relations.To enable the developmental and evolutionary potential of objects, physical structures or territories, it is evident that the adaptive ability must be established first. This can be achieved through metamorphic, additive/subtractive and supplemental capacity on lower constituent levels that through convergence build the higher-level identities that we perceive as distinct objects, structures, territorial conditions or systems.

When the lower constituent level changes, responds or adapts, through rotation, addition, subtraction, substitution, growth or mutation, the change is reflected on the identity of the higher (more complex convergent assembly) condition, structure or system. Cross-scale orchestration is focused on design input and control at specific operational scales in order to achieve exponential indirect design control, and serve as an interface for a mechanism that enables multiscale generative design and production.

Scale dependent relations can be nonlinear. They can fundamentally change the patterns and behaviours based on the relations between external and internal conditions. What we perceive as a pattern, behaviour or property is a symptom of organisation on a lover operational scale.

 

2. Anisotropic A-crete

Development– Processes and relations between multiple objectives deriving from distinct and disconnected operational, temporal, spatial scales and informing the design and production protocol of an output/product on another operational scale throughout the life cycle.  

The research aims to develop a convergent protocol of resources, material, production, assembly, behaviours, interfaces and connectivity with other systems, enabling the developmental capacity throughout its lifecycle. The project utilises computational multi-objective simulation and automated in situfabrication process for geometrically unconstrained, multi-objective and multiscale enabled production, assembly, performative behaviour, reconfiguration and connectivity – enabling the interface with other infrastructural or environmental systems. Continuous fibre reinforcement is used as an embedded production infrastructure network for production, and later as an active reinforcement of accreted anisotropic concrete. The multi-trophic composite components and structures have high-resolution joints, structural continuity, interfaces, and integrated internal infrastructure for transport of matter and information, necessary for adaptive and developmental processes during the lifecycle of the structure, such as the response of the structure to acute (flood/earthquake) or progressive change (based on type, frequency, magnitude, and intensity of use), can take effect locality, regionally or through the structure/system. The key innovations developed and implemented through this project are the ability of the structure and systems to continue with development throughout the lifecycle – specification through exposure. This strategy introduces a structure with latent multi-objective potential to the environment. The relation between the embedded and selectively activated potential determines the specific developmental emphasis.

The research branched out and was developed to a series of applicative projects. Amongst others the research project Anisotropic Accretion – Multi-objective design, production and behavioural protocols for continuous fibre reinforced concrete structures with embedded internal infrastructure and external interfaces, explores the convergence of multi-objective design methods, automated production protocols and the resulting novel anisotropic structural formations and multi-trophic functional behaviours, through strategic automated production and controlled variable thickness concrete accretion.

 Image 7: Anisotropic directionally porous concrete structure, with embedded water infrastructure, capacity for self-repair and thermal regulation. Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2014 (ongoing research). Photo Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas.
Image 7: Anisotropic directionally porous concrete structure, with embedded water infrastructure, capacity for self-repair and thermal regulation. Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2014 (ongoing research). Photo Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas.

 

Multi-objective generative simulation takes into the account structural capacity, load distribution and a range of qualitative/quantitative aspects, such as directional (selective) permeability, localised/regional flexibility, connectivity, and the embedded internal infrastructural network for internal transfer of information and matter. The use of a universal weaving machine serves as a tool for automated, robotic production of topologically non-constrained continuous filament reinforcement and accretion support networks, with simultaneous production of an embedded high-resolution distributed joint system for dispersed load distribution that simultaneously acts as an interlocking system providing structural continuity throughout the complete modularly assembled complex multi-objective enabled structure. The production protocol and resulting output can be adapted in real time through an embedded feedback mechanism to locally, regionally or holistically deal with a range of compression, tension, and torsion forces, as well as additional qualitative and quantitative objectives. This allows for design and in-situ production of modular building units or structural components that have combinatorial compatibly and at the same time provide structural continuity, and can accommodate a multitude of evolving developmental constraints, through activation of embedded latent potential, partial metamorphosis, structural and behavioural mutations and material state-changing properties.

 

3. In situ generative territorial production

Evolution– Relations between spatial, temporal and operational scales in multiple developmental generations.

The research aims to develop an in situproduction process for multi-objective enabled autonomous territorial generative production – the Territorial nD Additive-Subtractive, Substitutional and Metamorphic mechanism.

The strategic approach implemented in this project integrates the design process, external and internal relations and the generative mechanisms into the Assembled/Built/Grown/ territorial condition. It promotes continuous orchestration through additive, substitutional, metamorphic, and subtractive processes on a territorial range and on a spectrum of spatial, temporal and operational scales.

Image 8: Physical simulation, with multi material granular solids. Indirect orchestration as in situautomated production. Image 9. In SituNetwork. Territorial 3D-printing with in situgranular materials, driven by water currents and tidal fluctuations. Project development Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2012 (on-going research), Holcim Prize Asia Pacific 2014.  Photo Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas.
Image 8: Physical simulation, with multi material granular solids. Indirect orchestration as in situautomated production.
Image 9. In SituNetwork. Territorial 3D-printing with in situgranular materials, driven by water currents and tidal fluctuations. Project development Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2012 (on-going research), Holcim Prize Asia Pacific 2014.  Photo Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas.

 

 The project forms the applicative stand of research and has been developed for large-scale territorial production (territorial nD printing, erasing, editing) through utilization and curation of in situmaterials and environmental forces, such as a building machine and building materials.  The proposed strategy allows for utilisation of instability to act as a generative production accelerator, allowing and promoting the nonlinear behavioural design control, by establishing, defining, and re-negotiating the relations between the encoded behaviours and contextual fluctuation. The approach establishes a relational system, by balancing the desired design objectives with external conditions. These can range from long-term directional dynamics (currents) to cyclically reoccurring (such as tidal fluctuations), as well as acute changes and interferences that emerge as a symptom of larger system dynamics.

The combination enables the generative physical processes, and resulting re/de/formation as well as organization of matter in objects, structures and territories, with adaptive as well as developmental capacity during the lifecycle, through partial reconfiguration or metamorphosis based on continuous additive, substitutional and substantive processes, and opens the evolutionary potential through the course of multiple developmental generations.

The research has branched out and was developed as a pilot project to study the morphogenetic potential and application of innovative low impact – no construction ground – amphibious, aquatic, marine territorial production for areas that are subjected to habitat loss and coastline erosion, and as an indirect generative orchestration method for artificial island nucleation.

Image 10: In SituNetwork. Simulation interface for Territorial 3D printing with in situgranular materials, driven by water currents and tidal fluctuations. Project development Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2012 (ongoing research), Holcim Prize Asia Pacific 2014.  Image Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas.
Image 10: In SituNetwork. Simulation interface for Territorial 3D printing with in situgranular materials, driven by water currents and tidal fluctuations. Project development Linkscale + Amphibious Lab 2012 (ongoing research), Holcim Prize Asia Pacific 2014.  Image Courtesy: Maj Plemenitas.

 

CONCLUSION

Multiscale systems and the cross-scale relations are the resilient foundation and driving force and between biological, environmental, cultural, urban, and other systemic domains. Potential utilisation of spatial, temporal and operational cross-scale relations has applications beyond the architectural domain. The projects, research, methods and approaches presented in this paper demonstrate some of the potential for their utilisation of cross-scale relations, where processes at one spatial or temporal scale interacting with processes at another result in changing the pattern-process relationships across the broader scale range. This enables, for example, the design of small-scale interventions, protocols and processes that can influence a large spatial extent or a long period of time, or large-scale systems acting as effectors that interact with small-scale structures, systems or processes and effect behaviours and system dynamics.

Image 11: Convergent Assembly – Formation Adaptive and Developmental Series III LINKSCALE - Maj Plemenitas 2013.
Image 11: Convergent Assembly – Formation Adaptive and Developmental Series III LINKSCALE – Maj Plemenitas 2013.

 

Rather than focusing solely on direct, single problem solving, or finite state output, the strategy enables the utilisation of the multi-trophic nature of coexisting matter and information-based systems and activates and enables their latent potential. The approach is also fundamentally different in relation to the established automation and production protocols that demand an external production machine, such as utilisation of industrial robotics, as it integrates and synchronises the production machine, actuated for example through environmental forces or temperature differentiations with the building’s architectural tissue or landscape formation and programmable matter. This shift not only eliminates the need for a centralised production facility, but focuses on in situproduction that doesn’t end when the structure is constructed. The tissues thus produced have the embedded mechanisms and capacity, that can, through interface with evolving objectives, programs, internal or external processes or environmental constraints, learn and develop throughout the entire developmental lifecycle and between several developmental generations.

 

Image 12: Multi-scale boundary condition, adaptation, development and evolution. LINKSCALE 2017 - Multi Scale Series XII Nr.: 1335 - 
Image 12: Multi-scale boundary condition, adaptation, development and evolution. LINKSCALE 2017 – Multi Scale Series XII Nr.: 1335 –

 

Maj Plemenitas

 

 

 

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