Exercise Twelve: Embodying the Script

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


When he invented SketchPad in 1963, Ivan Sutherland broke the relationship between drawing and lived experience in order to avoid “the influence of a lifetime of drawing on paper.” In 1965, Sutherland speculated that the future of computation would enable visual representation of concepts, through which “we can learn to know [mathematical phenomena] as well as we know our own natural world.” The rift between the space of computational representation and site of architectural manifestation can be repaired, but remediating the tools by which architecture is computed is neither a straightforward nor a simple process.

Marco Frascari and Juhani Pallasmaa have both argued that architectural computation presents an impediment to creativity. The solution to the problem of computation appears to involve reconnecting the homogenized space of the computational model to the embodied place of the site through the gesture of drafting. Historically, the link between site and drawing was established through the imagined parallels between the tools of site measurement and the tools of drafting, as architectural historian Paul Emmons has demonstrated. On the surface, imagining the Cartesian space of the computer model as an analogue to lived experience could stitch back together the measuring and the drawing of place, but the gesture of CAD, unlike the gesture of architectural drafting, has no intention of conveying meaning. CAD does not operate in the symbolic realm. Instead, CAD overlays an ideological perspective on how we imagine site work. CAD’s supplèment to lived experience does not preclude embodiment from computation, but the superimposition does change what we experience, altering the manner in which computation might serve the architectural imagination. Sutherland’s anticipation that advanced computation might allow us to know the phenomena of mathematics is precocious in this context. Within the field of differential topology, traditional drawing and modeling demonstrate abstract concepts by grounding them in lived experience. From an architectural perspective, the representational techniques of differential topology reveal the persistence of continuity between the space of the computational model and place of architecture fabrication. The rupture between CAD and traditional drafting, which Sutherland intended, never happened.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventRemote Practices: Architecture in Proximity - Online - National University of Singapore & National University of Singapore, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 8 Oct 20209 Oct 2020


ConferenceRemote Practices: Architecture in Proximity
Internet address


  • CAD tools
  • Embodiment
  • computational creativity
  • Architecture

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