| By Isa. Clara Neves

Digital culture in architecture

Unknown territories fuel a thirst for knowledge and, the hazier the subject, the more pressing this discovery becomes. Computers and some of their possibilities are today still sometimes interpreted as unknown territory. Despite being an integral part of practicing architecture, little prominence has been given to precedents in computational and scientific history, which, over 60 years, have helped form the current moment.

As early as 1964, in Boston, Walter Gropius gave a paper at the “First Conference on Architecture and the Computer” discussing the problem of professionally educating a new generation of architects, proposing the solution to problems within a proper computer language. This renowned 20th-century architect believed that the machine could shorten the designer’s work process and liberate creativity. Here is the initial question that Gropius put forward: if architects were ready to consider computers as a viable architectural tool, it would be necessary to create the architecture assistant function.

Interestingly, almost five decades later, and in keeping with the growing complexity of computer programs, it is important to reflect on whether architecture is still a field consisting of design experts and architectural assistants or whether the profession of architects involved with universities and researchers essentially turns them into algorithm designers. Between algorithms and parametricisms, doesn’t the architect sometimes forget that he is an architect?

A work in effective multidisciplinary cooperation and the introduction of a theoretical and historical contextualisation of digital culture in architecture should be the guidelines to consider, thus redeeming the architect’s practice and building the history of the future.