Parametric Semiology – High Performance Architecture for Apple, Google and Facebook

Marc Fornes will also be involved in this studio.

All problems of society are problems of communication. Especially within post-Fordist network society, total social productivity increases with the density of communication. High performance organisations are thus marked out by a high intensity of communication. The life process of society is a communication process that is structured by a rich panoply of communicative situations. The built environment stabilizes this matrix of institutions and makes it legible. It functions as a system of signification. The architectural frames – the designed settings/spaces – are themselves communications that define, premise and prime the communicative interactions that are expected to take place within the framed territory. Each territory/frame is embedded within a system of frames that can be understood and designed as a system of signification.

The aim of the project brief is the design of a corporate campus as a coherent spatio-morphological system of signification. High performance, creative organisation like Apple, Google or Facebook entail a sufficiently large and complex matrix of social institutions and specific communicative situations, so as to enable the design of a rich architectural language. The designed Apple campus, Google campus or Facebook campus should be an information-rich, densely articulated environment that orders and encodes the manifold social interactions to be expected and thus facilitates orientation and communication. As a morphological/tectonic a priori the studio proposes to work with the combination of shell and tensile structures to create intricately differentiated, layered fields.

Patterns of communicative interaction can be modeled via programmed agents that respond to the coded environmental clues. This implies that the meaning of architecture can enter the digital model (design medium) and thus becomes the object of cumulative design elaboration. The system of signification works if the agents consistently respond to the relevant positional and morphological clues so that behaviours to be expected can be read off the articulated environmental configuration. As agents cross significant thresholds their behavioural rules are modulated. Territorial distinctions thus order and coordinate interaction patterns. The meaning of architecture, the prospective life processes it frames and sustains are becoming a direct object of creative speculation.