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Embedded Intelligence, towards new species of architectural materiality

The next generation of architectural materials should possess behavior intelligence capable of adapting to the dynamic field of environmental, functional, and contextual forces. This will only be possible through astute adaptation of computational methods not only as means to manufacture material, but also as an implanted quality of the material itself. The evolutionary chain of material enhancement is approaching its apex and is in a dire need of a paradigm shift; a paradigm shift triggered by embedded intelligence that will inject life into material by inducing autonomous responsive behavior and adaptive properties.

Impregnating the passive material with computational power will cause a significant leap in the nature of materials and liberate architecture from being a conglomerate of sometimes opposing components. Too many times I have seen HVAC ducts wrapped in insulation running into structural elements that obstruct views. Sometimes architects find clever ways to hide away all that mess like in the case of Salk Institute. But most of the times we are forced to resort to more typical ways of covering up the mess by adding even more parts to the jumble: hung ceiling. Imagine materials with intrinsic capabilities to adjust structural strengths in various regions based on external forces, fine-tune the R-value to accommodate thermal needs, and alter perviousness level to suit lighting, privacy, security, circulation, view, and even aesthetic requirements.

Although computational intelligence, as the pith of this new specie, stays unchanged in its essence, there are a variety of material types that could be injected by it to meet specific deployment requirements. This could encircle structural kinetic apparatus adaptive to load requirements, all the way to a live tissue utilized as building skin responsive to thermal, lighting, view, and circulation needs. This also implies that although the underlying formula (principle, scheme, recipe) remains unchanged, it has a broad scale of operational domain: anything from real-time Nano-scale molecular manipulation of material properties to building scale structural systems.