Author : Ahmed Shokir

University : Woodbury School of Architecture

Status : MArch II, 2013

Advisor : Ingalill Wahlroos-Ritter

Title : The Paradox of Shifting Architecture

This thesis explores the process of developing an architecture in which responds to a site that is rapidly moving. Through a design feedback loop that negotiates between changing physical site conditions, computational representations of material behavior simulations, and fabricated prototypes, the result manifested is a particular architectural-material to operate on shifting terrain.

Architecture operates by establishing links with a physical place that we call ‘site’, with an imagined place that expresses our understanding of history, demographics and economic reality that we call ‘context’. Artificial computational forms are often dissociated from dynamic contextual phenomena such as sound, air quality, scents, seasonal shifts, flora, fauna and physical geological changes. While computational software are well-suited for arriving at complex forms, today’s designers have yet to exploit software feedback loops to resolve many such dynamic contextual conditions.

California’s geography is defined by natural phenomena such as earthquakes, landslides and eroding coastal land. In landslides, for example, nothing is removed or added, the land simply transfers its materials, but the buildings on it are often significantly damaged. Can architecture be built to respond to the specificity of such seemingly catastrophic conditions? Can we negotiate the boundaries between a dynamically changing site and manmade constructs intended to be static through the use of recent advancements in computation? Can we design through a process of material behavior simulation that mediates such shifting terrain?


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we the audience should be aware of?
Ahmed Shokir_ This thesis is direct response to site specific behavior, it was a research based thesis, it focused on the process more than the outcome. I wasn’t interested in the aesthetic at any point during the production, yet I was more interested in the process of linking the physical to the digital and creating a feedback-loop between them and finding a solution. It goes back to my core belief that architecture is a “living breathing thing” and that the final outcome is a solution to the problem of instability that is consistently riddling California.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interests you?
AS_ Design, fabrication, robots, machines, technology, film, photography, animation.

S//A : Most important thing you remember from architecture school?
AS_ The best experience I had, and the most education I got was from my friends. I was very lucky to be involved with such highly intelligent individuals. However to state one important factor is the notion of being ‘self-critical’, and how important that was in my development as a designer.

S//A : What is your dream project
AS_ I really believe that design can save the world! So I will sign up for any project that can help make that dream possible…