Ph.D. Dissertation Defense - Sora Key, PhDCD Candidate-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense - Sora Key, PhDCD Candidate

A Computable Language of Architecture: Towards Building Descriptive Models of Spatial Qualities

DATE: Wednesday, May 18, 2012
TIME: 10:00 am

LOC:  MMCH 108 (Dean's Conference Room)


A method of programming descriptive design models is presented and illustrated with examples.

Design models are seen as independent objects that encapsulate descriptions of physical layouts.

The models are constructed and represented using a set of constructible functions that indicate geometric attributes and the characteristics of physical configurations. The subject of design models in this work is experiential qualities of architecture which we call spatial qualities. This document provides in-depth description of the process of computing terms that indicate spatial qualities. The terms are abstract, conceptual, design objectives from the early phase design process. The process of computation –the analysis of common terms and patterns,translation of the terms into computable functions, and reconstruction of the functions into machine executable design models (descriptor) – all builds a method of how we can computationally represent spatial qualities. A computable language supporting the design analysis is proposed and its implementation is briefly discussed. The language, being implemented in a working prototype system called Descriptor, is used to express compound qualities implied in the subset of Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. More examples are also provided in expressing common visual language terms using the language. Descriptor, a software environment for programming architectural qualities, is built to support design representation at the level of abstract concepts based on the objective, measurable, attributes of the physical built environments. The work brings a discussion about places for digital tools and methods by offering a systematic method for logical construct of design concepts while maintaining its explorative nature.

Advisors: Mark Gross, Suguru Ishizaki, Susan Finger