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The Alphabet and the Algorithm

characters The Alphabet and the Algorithm

Of the Albertian authorial way of building by design Charting the rise and fall of the paradigm of identicality Carpo compares new forms of postindustrial digital craftsmanship to hand making and the cultures and technologies of variations that existed before the coming of machine made identical copies Carpo reviews the unfolding of digitally based design and construction from the early 1990s to the present and suggests a new agenda for architecture in an age of variable objects and of generic and participatory authorshi. In this current Age of Information those of us who are not “digital natives” tend to look back on the days we were first introduced to personal computers and wax philosophical about how the simple integration of a certain digital technology has so uickly and so profoundly transformed our culture and commerce as well as whether suchtransformations are bringing our society in the right direction The Alphabet and The Algorithm is an architect’s version of that rumination In it the reader is introduced to the authorial voice of Mario Carpo an architectural historian and critic who also serves as professor of theory at University College London and then taken on a tourthrough the story of authorship in architecture and how revolutions in methods and technology have spurred its evolution In its simplest form Carpo’s main argument is that architecture has changed from an art of craftsmanship and on site collaboration where no work would ever have one true author; to one of notation and identicalitybetween plans and actual constructions thus solidifying the architect’s role as sole designer; and now to an act of digital differentiation and mass customization which has the charm of individual craftsmanship while retaining a new role authorship for the architectThe transition to digital design technologies is inevitable; the benefits and demands far outweigh any perceived costs The way we transition however is not I believe Carpo is right about what the future holds fordesign but until the day we can all use software as naturally as we use pencil paper or clay we must be prudent inthe role we let such software play in our process Flashy new toys may augment the way we play but they will never replace the imaginations that inspire us to play in the first placeA good read that generates discussions we NEED to be having right now in the design disciplines

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The rise and fall of identical copies digital technologies and form making from mass customization to mass collaborationDigital technologies have changed architecture the way it is taught practiced managed and regulated But if the digital has created a paradigm shift for architecture which paradigm is shifting In The Alphabet and the Algorithm Mario Carpo points to one key practice of modernity the making of identical copies Carpo highlights two examples of identicality crucial to the shaping of architectural modernity in. How fast do books get old I have watched a couple of lectures of his i think i prefer him speaking he is not that uptight and austere when he speaks and when he gets offtrack he becomes really interesting The book is very well written though it suffers from the same thing that theory books usually do disappointing epilogues due to their genericness they dont take risks they dont suggest or propose or anything and somehow end up to be too scientific but in the manner of the experiment that was really nicely set up but didnt produce any interesting results Reticence uptight and austere when he speaks and when he gets offtrack he becomes really interesting The book is very well written though it suffers from the same thing that theory books Peloponnesian War usually do disappointing epilogues due to their genericness they dont take risks they dont suggest or propose or anything and somehow end Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete up to be too scientific but in the manner of the experiment that was really nicely set Greek Mythology up but didnt produce any interesting results

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The fifteenth century Leon Battista Alberti's invention of architectural design according to which a building is an identical copy of the architect's design; and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the mass production of identical copies from mechanical master models matrixes imprints or molds The modern power of the identical Carpo argues came to an end with the rise of digital technologies Everything digital is variable In architecture this means the end of notational limitations of mechanical standardization and. than excellent mario carpo provides an elouent historically grounded account of the deep theoretical and practical conseuences of the digital paradigm shift in architecture amazingly accurate and perfectly balanced in tone a must read for all digital enthusiasts as well as passive practitioners of computational architecture


6 thoughts on “The Alphabet and the Algorithm

  1. says:

    How fast do books get old? I have watched a couple of lectures of his i think i prefer him speaking he is not that uptight and austere when he speaks and when he gets offtrack he becomes really interesting The book is very well written though it suffers from the same thing that theory books usually do disappointing epilogues due to their genericness they dont take risks they dont suggest or propose or anything and somehow end up to be too scientific but in the manner of the experiment that was really nicely set up but didnt produce any interesting results


  2. says:

    than excellent mario carpo provides an elouent historically grounded account of the deep theoretical and practical conseuences of the digital paradigm shift in architecture amazingly accurate and perfectly balanced in tone a must read for all digital enthusiasts as well as passive practitioners of computational architecture


  3. says:

    In this current Age of Information those of us who are not “digital natives” tend to look back on the days we were first introduced to personal computers and wax philosophical about how the simple integration of a certain digital technology has so uickly and so profoundly transformed our culture and commerce as well as whether suchtransformations are bringing our society in the right direction The Alphabet and The Algorithm is an architect’s version of that rumination In it the reader is introduced to the authorial voice of Mario Carpo an architectural historian and critic who also serves as professor of theory at University College London and then taken on a tourthrough the story of authorship in architecture and how revolutions in methods and technology have spurred its evolution In its simplest form Carpo’s main argument is that architecture has changed from an art of craftsmanship and on site collaboration where no work would ever have one true author; to one of notation and identicalitybetween plans and actual constructions thus solidifying the architect’s role as sole designer; and now to an act of digital differentiation and mass customization which has the charm of individual craftsmanship while retaining a new role authorship for the architectThe transition to digital design technologies is inevitable; the benefits and demands far outweigh any perceived costs The way we transition however is not I believe Carpo is right about what the future holds fordesign but until the day we can all use software as naturally as we use pencil paper or clay we must be prudent inthe role we let such software play in our process Flashy new toys may augment the way we play but they will never replace the imaginations that inspire us to play in the first placeA good read that generates discussions we NEED to be having right now in the design disciplines


  4. says:

    Writing architecture continues to be a great Similar to the Princeton Pamphlet Architecture series but actually substantive The discussion of how the architect was defined by the earlier renaissance and the issue of authorship which arises with the development of the ability to duplicate instead of imitating is fascinating The inevitable transformation of architecture is laid out here With the arise of digital means of production the profession has already begun to be transition out of the confines of the industrial revolution Now we can only hope that the developments in both material and manufacturing science will be employed not just as a means to realize renderings


  5. says:

    For a book talking about changing modes of spatial production between modernity and the digital age post modernity this book removes its argument completely from political economy a lack of context that greatly hurts its argument Somehow there's no reference to either Lefebvre or Harvey If you're interested specifically in Alberti's law of architecture this may be a book for you Otherwise there's better stuff out there


  6. says:

    Very well written history of design from pre industrial to post industrial Mario Carpo gives context and words to better understand current trends in architecture and the art of making


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