The Intelligent Machine in Urban Open Space: Sensing Urban Data and Performing Architectural Behaviour

Nam, Hyun-Jae (2021). The Intelligent Machine in Urban Open Space: Sensing Urban Data and Performing Architectural Behaviour. PhD thesis The Open University.



The ambition of the design is to produce an intelligent machine that can capture real-time urban data pertaining to social events and environmental conditions in an urban open space, use that data to optimise the use of space and to manipulate the environmental phenomena for specific events by controlling kinetic structures. The Literature Review identifies and classifies how intelligent systems have been discussed for architectural spaces, cities and machines, and examines how intelligence has been developed within three domains: architectural intelligence, urban intelligence, and artificial intelligence. It identifies cohesive interpretations, thoughts, and alternatives that are commonly associated with the term ‘intelligent’, focusing on those that have led to the development of computational techniques with consideration given to their actual applications. The primary concepts of the intelligent machine originated with cybernetic applications in the field of architectural design in the 1960s with proposals for socially engaging architectural machines, and the later development of architectural devices that sense and act on changes in users’ activities. This research further develops such experiments in an open source computational platform, and tests how specific context awareness can be coupled to active devices to produce intelligent actions. With the advancement of information technologies, the ways of sharing real-time information have enabled citizens to rapidly come together and create temporary events in an impromptu way. The design of the intelligent machine for urban open space brings the capacity to optimise the organisation for such events in relation to optimal spatial requirements with appropriate intelligent responses to environmental phenomena including light/shade, temperature and acoustics. An algorithm was designed to regulate the physical body of the machine, consisting of foldable structures, by means of logic-based rulesets. Simulations were carried out to monitor and evaluate the machine’s responsiveness to information on real-time circumstances in an urban open space and its consequent behaviours.

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