Collective Intelligence as Responsive Design- Jeffrey Scott, Christopher Beorkrem

Parametric design environments (Building Information Modeling) are transforming architects into agents of their own systems, at the expense of systemic logics too complex for us to control. This agency is often defined by a system devoid of adaptive or responsive tools. The work in this paper proposes a hypothetical response to this condition by designing ‘glue’ for components of software to integrate new forms of information for a user.  

Author Mario Carpo has recently outlined three-scenarios for these types of parametric inputs through the idea of ‘split agency’ (Carpo 2011). First, is an existing parametric environment such as REVIT, which has a corporate author (Autodesk). Second, is a scenario where the parametric software has a ‘system’ author that customizes the design environment according to a series of rules, parameters, or laws that govern how the system functions, such as Digital Project by Gehry Technologies. Lastly, is a scenario where the parametric software is defined by multiple users operating through collective intelligence as ‘virtual authors’, customizing the way that the system functions. This final scenario creates a fracture, which could redefine the significance and applicability of BIM.

By provoking the question of ‘authorship’, we can utilize BIM as a design and production tool that integrates ecological decision-making within parametric design environments.  In many ways, Roland Barthes’s assumptions about the author have become a reality that must be confronted (Barthes 1977). The loss of authorship may allow information to become more transparent, however, we must be careful to not devalue the way that multiple authors access or profit from this ‘collective intelligence.’