Shared:P1 Group 3

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GROUP 3: SocEco

Developments.jpg Today, society faces one of the most important shifts since the Industrial Revolution. From the moment the steam engine was invented, the production of goods have been increasingly automated. Today, technologies like robots and 3D printers push this development even further, but a very important distinction must be made: the world faces a paradigm shift from mass production to mass customisation. This means the repetitiveness will be diminished and unique productions will be made more often. This has implications on the flow of knowledge required to make these products.

Apart from the notion of mass customisation, there is another important development: the self-producing society. In a few years it will be quite normal to not go to IKEA anymore, but print/CNC mill or laser cut and then assembly your own chair; or generate the hamburger you are going to eat at dinner. This also requires more information to flow and at the same time it diminishes the trade in products. This leads to the conclusion that a redefinition of the measuring tool of the economy is needed.

Economic wealth so far has been defined by measuring the flow of money between agents, be it persons, companies, countries, or any other individual entities. The flow of money is defined by adding up the prices all transactions of goods or services within a certain population. The total volume of the transactions is then an indicator of the state of the economy of a population. However, the flow of money is becoming obsolete as a means of representing economic wealth. As we have seen, the flow of knowledge will increase, and the trade of products will diminish. So, instead of money, we use the flow of knowledge to express economic wealth.

password: m4h Knowledge.jpg

As we have seen, the flow of information will increase, and the trade of products will diminish. The conclusion therefore must be made that the notion of money will not be accurate anymore to as a means to express the success of the economic process within a society. Instead, we will use the flow of information to express economic wealth. The larger the flow of information is, the more economic wealth.

First we have to quickly look at what information is. Information is nothing more than processed data, in other words, data that can be utilised in a process. One step higher in hierarchy is knowledge, simply being processed information. Knowledge is produced by putting information in a structure; by matching information. Knowledge is therefore the product of the flow of information. If economic wealth can be measured by the flow of money, the economic growth can be measured by the production of knowledge. The highest step in hierarchy may be wisdom, but we will leave that for now.

The flow of information is simply sharing information. It is therefore safe to conclude that information flows fast where information can be easily shared, and the volume of information is increased if the possibilities of sharing information is increased. In short: the amount of interactions defines the total flow of information.

So, in order to improve the urban area, the question then rises how to increase the total amount of interactions. Therefore we need to conceptualise these interactions. The interactions can be seen as the lines within a network diagram that consists of lines and nodes. If all nodes connect to each other, then the relation between the total amount of links between them is exponentially larger than the amount of nodes. So by simply adding more nodes, we can yield more interactions. Simply said: by increasing the density of the network, we can increase the amount of interactions within that network.

Before proposing a way of achieving this, the components of the network need to be defined. The nodes are agents, human beings or companies or other economic actors that have a certain metabolism. In other words: they have certain desires or needs and at the same time they have certain waste products. In the realm of the future economy all these desires are is information. So an agent can have a surplus of a certain kind of information, or a lack. The connections are defined as the transactions between these agents at the moment that each agent has benefit from it. The nodes and the connections are subject to continuous change.

Looking at this kind of network for urban or architectural design becomes useful if the time scale will be in line with the longevity of a building – so several decades – and if the agents are not individuals but larger scale economic agents, such as companies.


To densify the network is our goal. Architecture is the means to do it. Politics or entrepreneurship might be other ways of achieving this, but we will not going into that. The architectural means that boil up are: - The urban plan; - The architectural invention; We reject the urban plan because the city does grow over decades and centuries and we believe that due to the emergent properties of the agents of the city (humans), it is impossible to predict what will happen or what will be desirable in the future. Aside from that, it is not the assignment to design an urban plan.

The architectural invention however is the assignment. The idea is to use this means in the most efficient way to achieve the goal of an intensified network. The way we propose to do this, is through simulation. The simulation, based on the inputs will will give it, will tell us the most optimal architectural intervention. So, we need to set up the simulation and what it should be capable of. First of all, the evaluations: the fitness is set exogenously: the maximum fitness is achieved if the amount of connections is optimal. Second, the simulation should be able to simulate economic behaviour and therefore be a multi-agent system with a metabolism. This allows to simulation to be generating new connections. One can say that the each connection that will be established is profitable (otherwise they would not be established), but that does not mean it is profitable for the entire urban area. To be able to let connections die, the simulation should thirdly have learning capabilities. We can let this be done by evolution. So the simulation consists of agents with embodied genes (genetic computing (will look up the term)) (and therefore having a metabolism). The rules of this metabolism should be defined.


In order to change the economic value of a specific urban area, simple large top-down methods are a less than guaranteed way of directing economic value. Since there is no control on the market’s algorithms, there is no effective control over economic growth either. A better way of mapping economic value is by looking at knowledge, and the flow of knowledge. Areas where there’s a lot of knowledge resource available per individual, and where knowledge can be transferred from one individual from another — Silicon Valley comes to mind as a prime example of the value of these networks of knowledge. It’s not just knowledge, but also the free flow of knowledge combined with creative implementation of it. Smaller companies, therefore, tend to be more innovative than large companies, since the structures of big companies actually limit the free flowing of knowledge or creativity in the application. The way that economy can be pushed and value can be added is by smaller top-down interventions that create the framework for, and facilitate in, a bottom-up approach where the users are being empowered to gain knowledge, and therefore generate new wealth. The framework for attracting and creating those new companies — that generate knowledge and transfer this to other companies that then form a creative network of collaborative sharing of knowledge and an increase in economic value — is inscribed by interventions on different layers.

Based on this vision of smaller interventions, we look at the creation of a startup incubator. An incubator thrives on the exchange of knowledge and, instead of money, knowledge is the greatest asset of those smaller companies located in the incubator. It can also have a radiant effect on its environment. The design is informed by meta-design. The meta-design system is designed by the architect to empower the users to create their own environment based on the parameters which they decides on. Based on those parameters, the system sorts the different types of users and creates the spaces according to those parameters. If, in time, any of the parameters change; the design changes accordingly. Shared program will be clustered so multiple companies can make use of that same space. Specific program is located to the sides so that the central space is open for interaction and exchange of knowledge.


Investigation of the material which might be such malleable that allows for adaptability with the least damage to the environment

Nautral, reusable material - small amount of energy is needed for production

Available technology - fungi (mycelium) mixed with biowaste such as crop, wood waste or any material which has the performance of being digested by fungi

Mycelium is natural, self assembling glue which digest biowaste and therefore froms strong structure (stronger than concrete)

A good example of using this strategy is growing bricks. First mushroom tower was built at the MOMA exhibition in Queens, New York. Drawbacks - mass production and requirement of the form.

Further research - 3D printed chair at the University in Aachen. Conclusion - resistance to not only compression but also tension.

Possible further improvement - our vision

3D printing in real 3D like in Joris Laarman Lab Robot is assembling structure on the site while being attached to the building by self-3d-printed rails or similar system - self-growing material + self-building structure

Meta design at this scale are power lines of the structure designed by the architect and programmed by the user.

If there is no need for connection, or connection is not efficient it is cut from the structure and replaced with the new growing one. - Always positive energetic babalnce, as the material of the building can be used as energy.

The building becomes a living organism (like a tree) adapts to needs, changes configuration. Interacts and discuss boundaries of communication. Possibility of incorporating generative algorithms. The building is 100% programmable and assembled on the site. No losses of energy.

What is needed: robots + fungi + biowaste + desgin Biowaste can be harnessed from the building itself - growing possibility of positive balance of material - loop of providing material. If the additional material is not needed it is used as energy.

Meta design can be changed over time!

The next step - cooperation with other fields of research in order to shape the building.