John Frazer – An evolutionary architecture

[…] the computer is a device with the power and speed to meet the requirements of the limits of our imaginations. We need this power to compress evolutionary time and space so that results can be achieved more realistically in our life-times. The emphasis, however, rests in the techniques, in the demonstration of the theoretical model and technical feasibility, and in the workings of the thought experiment.
Perhaps this computing without computers is the most important lesson to be learned from designing these tools. The real benefits are found in having to rethink explicitly and clearly the way in which we habitually do things. […] if an appropriate toll doesn’t exist, we design and construct one ourselves.
It could further be argued that we do not need to build these tools, but could simulate their behaviour in the computer. The point is that by externalizing and materializing the inner processes of the computer, our physical models act like any architectural model by assisting understanding and visualization. Our models are not just tools which assist with the formative process, but tools of explanation.

This passage has been extracted from the book by Frazer, An Evolutionary Architecture, Architectural Publications Association, London, 1995, written after many years of experience in teaching and experimenting with students at Architectural Association in London.
The most important lesson we can infer from his words is the need of a real deep understanding of the main reason for which certain tools are used, on the basis of their potential and their operation way. For this reason, a manual creation of both hardware and software parts of a computer, as well as a manual simulation of computing processes, is helpful in this (still current) phase of learning with respect to these “new tools”.

Frazer book cover

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  1. very interesting post!
    i didn’t know it existed…
    i will check it out!

  2. An Evolutionary Architecture is one of the most interesting books related to the topic of “Evolutionary techniques in architecture”. It provides also an interesting theoretical basis and a complete bibliography (With reference to the year in which it was writter, i.e. 1995).
    Thank you for your comment. I have just visited your blog-website, it seems interesting, thus I will spend more time in the next days to read more accurately your posts (especially the article about Branching System). I write here the address for other readers: I suggest to visit it!

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