Research

Since may, 2010 I am MsAAD and AAR graduate from Columbia University, NYC. During this time I have done some some research and I worked on several projects. I held teaching positions for Search: Advanced Algorithmic Design, Parametric Realizations,and Swarm Intelligence, where I worked together with Roland Snooks -Kokkugia. Now I work as a freelance in the world of architectural computing -where I have developed some work for SUMA architects, among others, landscaping, and design, and have taught at several institutions.

I am currently teaching Digital Applications and Design at IE University, where we investigate the impact of digital technologies on design. I am also PhD candidate at the Computer Engineering Faculty of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where I develop my research agenda. 

Please feel free to contact me if you want to hire me [for both professional and educational purposes!], or for any other purpose.

Feel invited to follow my ongoing work here.

Trash and social consciousness

Towards a comprehensive understanding of non-linear phenomena and capital hybridization in urban environments: empowering social awareness through the study of waste in New York


"Cities happen to be problems in organized complexity, like the neurosciences. They present situations in which half a dozen or several dozen quantities are all varying simultaneously and in subtly interconnected ways... The variables are many but they are not shelter skelter, they are "interrelated into an organic whole"  
[1] Jane Jacobs, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" (1961)

Indeed, she envisions a frictional, far-from-ideal system that accounts for multiple levels of interactions and decentralized decision-making. Such model has been recurrently referred to as "bottom-up", one which accounts for a culture where planning and design emerge from every individual's knowledge and involvement.

As opposed to equilibrium-based theories, Jacobs proposes a culture of systems that tend to far-from-equilibrium rather quickly, as they are open for influences and multiple levels of interactions. The theory of the Central Place and Location Theory would assume not only a non-frictional, linear system where distribution follows simple linear functions of distance, but would also obliterate the sheer existence and influence of the time factor. In other words, they were oversimplified, reductive models unable to successfully describe urban phenomena by all means. Approximating urban environments from an “equilibrium” perspective does not appear, thus, acceptable.

It would not take too long for planners to realize the potential of models to interpret and implement complex, organized behaviour. Alongside the process of parameterization of cities that started as a consequence of the above, a new view of systems in general arose during the 70's that would finally help shape and frame this new take on the essential dynamics of urban processes. Indeed, Complexity Theory embraces this paradigm, as initially described by Ilya Prigogine in the sixties and seventies -he was honoured the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his study on irreversible thermodynamics and dissipative structures. This theory is, curiously enough, the result of many interwoven forces and influences:

"The physics of far-from-equilibrium structures is important, as is the notion of decentralized decision making. Processes that lead to surprising events, to emergent structures not directly obvious from the elements of their process but hidden within their mechanism. , new forms of geometry associated with fractal patterns, and chaotic dynamics -“all are combining to provide theories that are applicable to highly complex systems such as cities"
[2] Michael Batty 2007, "Cities and Complexity: Understanding Cities with Cellular Automata, Agent Based Modeling, and Fractals" (2007)

The present research aims to empower social consciousness through the use of GIS technology in regard to energy consumption, use of resources, and waste production. The goal of the research is not only to study potential relationships between social and structural components of the urban environment and the production of waste, but to ultimately make them visible through the development of a software platform that would allow for free, instant access to that particular piece of data. In other words, "Trash and social consciousness" seeks to ultimately reshape the way we live, perceive and plan cities through free access to information.

In a very real sense, waste can define the metastructure of a particular society. Some common denominators among the many "official" definitions of waste are: [1] its pervasive nature, [2] its condition of "unusefulness" and [3] unsafeness, [4] its lack of rigorous property, and [5] its "object(ual)" character. This study aims to take advantage of the fact that waste is embedded in the western society growth model, therefore constituting a defining characteristic of its mode of production, economic systems, and cultural biases and preferences.

According to the US Environmental Agency, solely solid waste production has increased roughly a 300% in the last 40 years, leading to a situation never encountered before. New York is the city in the United States which Solid Waste Management appears the most inefficient, and is the nationwide leader in waste exportation, with a total of 5600000 tons exported per year. The same tendencies can also be appreciated in other nations and cities worldwide, such as in the case of Beijing, China, El Cairo, Egypt, Bombay, India, and many others.

 

This proposal is part of a larger thesis, which entails an investigation of emergent phenomena and complex systems in urban environments . In this particular matter, this is an attempt to both theorize and experimentally explore some of the underlying theories that affect city planning, city morphology, and, consequently, human behaviour. Complex systems have largely influenced the way we think about urban environments. Nevertheless, it seems that those descriptions inevitably inherited a subtle traditional approach, as far as the selection of the "agents of study" is concerned: transportation and mobility infrastructures, typology, and land use are all common words to the description and planning of cities. As opposed to this "traditional" approach, "Trash and social consciousness" focuses on urban "subsystems" that equally influence the use and morphology of human settlements: waste.

Waste becomes, thus, an ambivalent attribute. On the one hand, it is the means through which we describe urban phenomena via its intricate relationships with social strata. On the other hand, waste reflects back on human behaviour not only as a consequence of it, but also as a cultural material. In order to achieve such interactions, it is essential to make information available to the public, and regain a social awareness that has been buried by its own accumulation over the past decades. Therefore, the findings of the projects will be publicly accessible through a web application downloadable by not only desk computers, but also hand-held devices such as iPod/iPhones and similar.

Data
Data from accessible from the Department of Sanitation of the City of New York (DSNY) is used in the study. More specifically, data from the 2008 report on "Characterization of Solid Waste" constitutes the main body of information regarding waste production per borough, density and income levels for the city of New York.
In order for this information to be meaningful, it is essential to cross-reference it with spatial data, which describes the city and its morphology. More specifically, the project looks at density and income distributions according to the census tracts for the same period.

Methodology
After mining and parsing the available data, the tables acquired from the DSNY will be cross referenced with those resembling spatial attributes in the city, thus making possible a spatial characterization of waste production and its types. Model builder is used to extract the geographic data and export it to tables, as this data is to be imported in Processing for future use and develop the "mock-up" of the final hand-held device applications.
Proof of concept: Finally, an iPod application will be developed.

Urban growth simulation

The self-organizing city: in a post-singularity scenario, cities will react to inhabitants' stimulous real-time, allowing for a total interaction. In order for this to be possible, the project takes a serious study of emergence as point of departure. Technology is used to process data and create behavioural relationships which shape the city at all levels: as place of relations, knowledge, information flux, codes, regulations, entropy, scarcity -or its lack- and its own environment.
Numerous simulations have been created in order to understand the complexity of the system and feed back the process in an attempt to finally understand processes through which to apprehend space, territory and communication through knowledge and technology.

PARTICLE-SYSTEM SCALE
The model of the project intends to re-create phenomena present in emergent processes of the type III (strong, according to Jochem Fromm), in an attempt to identify emergent behaviour which could give a hint on urban phenomena.Several feedback loops are created at different levels of interaction: agent-agent, agent-environment, agent-system, system-environment.

 

SCENARIOS
The geometry of the new city can be understood as a mapping of the different variables involved in the process: density, program, clustering, massing and relationship to street agents. In that sense, the city becomes a disjoint network, meaning the result of several forces which do not sum up as a whole, but rather as a complex system. This complexification implies that the surfaces absorb the information of that system, allowing for differentiation in time and space, responding to changing local conditions throughout time. Nevertheless, this model should be understood as a design driver for the multiple agents involved lastly in the design and construction process.

The simulation of the city growth necessarily implies a hierarchy of growth: streets are first created (either randomly or under the user´s criteria), which will cause program to appear. Both local and general program densities are constantly measured, influencing the behaviour of the system and forcing itself to readjust to the new conditions every frame.The program isable to spezialize and spatialize through subdivision once a certain local density has been reached, creating differentiated areas of knowledge, speed and users. Also, diverse clustering conitions can be reached by the system, allowing for a larger variety of simulations.

Some captures of the actual simulation responding to different boundary conditions.

TRASLOCATION
Urban growth is understood as a never-ending process (in a non-linear system far from equilibrium). The city evolves into a more intelligent entity, capable of reacting to stimulous real time.

Experimental geometry and re-reading the system: the final geometry, though seeminlgy arbitrary, responds to very specifically-defined conditions, such as environmental influences, existing infrastructures or purely palnning tools implemented in the simulation. This allows for a re-understanding of the system behaviour through a simultaneous analysis of process and result.

 

Swarm Intelligence

EMBEDDING DESIRE

Technology is considered as an "interface" through which one can operate in order to create (or solve) specific problems.Large datasets are used to informed the surfaces, which are not floating in a vectorial space anymore (as Gregg Lynn suggested) but are those spaces themselves: the informing and the informed become one in a never-ending process. Mesh vertices are informed with "architectural desire".

We created a specific import-export tool to be abe to very rapidly test different solutions and emergent affects related to different kinds of geometries. Processing was our preferred environment, as we could exploit its capacity in handling large amounts of data.

As you can see above, our challenge was to recreate certain behavioural performances from virus as far as their geometry is concerned. This is, the logic of the proposal lies precisely in the understanding of the very subtle relationships between matter and geometry, processes of transformation and material logic. One of the challenges we had to face was the embodiement of a sort of "architectural desire" or intentions, thereby aiming for "architectural" formations.

 

Parametric Ceiling

FROM DESIGN TO PRODUCTION
the material production is automated through the scripting process, allowing for rapid prototyping.
Several light distributions are tested until certain desired effects are reached. The original point grid is transformed through the influence of the lights in order to enhance the dramatism of the different light conditions.

The proposal explores affects produced by the synergy when combining scripting and fabrication techniques.

LIGHTING TESTS
in order to achieve the perfect lighting conditions, both productions and design are synchronized: this means, material and code take into account material constrains, production time and the final visual effects.Three diverse scripts are tested to validate the geometry: first, spheres of different radii that create a gradient of intensity, then irregular shapes are put to the test as to create more radical effects and finally a sheer combination of both control and emergent affects in the production by directly creating the line to be followed by the CNC milling machine

The proces itself allows for some material investigation and results. Two panels had to be produced. The joint is carefully calculated to achieve a perfect mass distribution and follows one of the curvilinear paths in order to seamlessly integrate in the final piece.

(n)certainties

CITY AS TERRITORY
This project is conceived as part of an active investigation on the possibilities to apply implicit processes in the exploration of large-scale territories.
In this scenario, self-ruled robots are capable of plowing the land according to optimizing rules. Materiality, reasoning and conceptual behaviors are hereby explored.

The organization of the landscape is generated from the reactions to the external conditions given by the surroundings.
The result is a spatial organization that reacts on environmental and material parameters. Strict regulations are also taken into account in order to create public joint that serve to the territory in a give-and-take strategy.

 

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