‘Another Architect’ is a proposal for an urban super object constructed over the Farmers Market in Hollywood. Traditional properties of architecture – such as scale, materiality, function, and location – are all defined by Human. My interest relies in speculating on what architecture would look like if our focus is moved from Human to equipment? Equipment are tools without agency, they are add-ons, secondary elements. What would an architecture of equipment look like? Therefore, the ‘Another Architect’ is a celebration of architecture defined and designed by AI trained on a data set using architectural equipment sets.
The original farmers market in Hollywood has been occupied by restaurants and grocery stalls since 1934. It has been both a must-see destination for travelers from around the world and one of the best places for LA families to shop for groceries now. Currently with the global pandemic the Farmers Market is working remotely from secondary sources and can no longer use their physical site.
Architectural equipment is understood as ducts, pipes, bricks and decks, because they are secondary. The difference between equipment and tool is that equipment is here to support the tool but cannot really replace it – it has no agency. For example, a phone cover does not serve any purpose other than keeping our phone safe, but the phone itself is a tool because it serves multiple purposes, in the sense that it has agency. I initially used these equipment on the original site to re-imagine a different form of farmers market. Different from the reality, ‘Another Architect’ is an overlaid experimental city, in which architectural equipment are emphasized both as producers and users.
The post-digital age gives us a chance to make a trial through computation and artificial intelligence technology. Computer analyzes images pixels by pixels as an assemblage of information while human always understand images based on the past experiences and following the rules. Therefore, the style transfer technology is applied on the site plan of the farmers market, and the plan drawings from the Middle Eastern bazaar are used as reference styles to help AI learn about what a market is.
The greyscale information on the output of the style transfer plan helps AI to generate different depths and turn the 2D image to be the 2.5D model. The operation processes by extruding shapes through the Z axis and producing a model with multiple inter-connected blocks with different heights. The two-dimensional image result from the AI is now transformed into a bas-relief 2.5D tectonic ground.
Equipment is used as the only architectural component to build the super object. They are transformed and reorganized to infill the 2.5D model. The original characteristics of these equipment are all overturned. No matter what are their original positions, functions, materials or scales, which are matter only for a human architect, they could be re-translated to be a huge column, a thin floor, or a pitched roof. Every single equipment is unique with their new roles under this mis-manipulation strategy. Scale and proximity redefine each of them.
How many acres is the original site is also unknown and unimportant to the AI. The data gathering from the style transfer plan just includes the number of the pixels. Therefore, the AI starts to scale up the original site and even extends to the adjacent neighborhood, La Brea. Some equipment architectures are constructed across different blocks and hang over the roads. Also, Only the zoning information learning from the plan is kept while all the rules that are not showed up on the plan, and just based on the policies and common senses of human beings, are abandoned.
The story among AI, equipment and Architecture is now on.