For the post of this week, I started with a vague memory of 3 years ago when I was studying processing. There was an old project of a collaborative learning environment that used a physics engine to build living creatures based on topology in Reas and Fry’s book (Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists, pp. 263-265). This project is called Sodaplay and the Java based engine is called Soda constructor (2000). With the constructor, the user can create creatures / structures that react to the environmental forces – such as Theo Jansen’s creatures. In particular, you can design a creature in the constructor and then use it to compete in a Sodarace.
On one hand, as the project is old for media art standards and physical simulation became so widespread, it may not be so appealing for contemporary eyes. On the other hand, it has this incredible mixture of physics and design interaction that makes each creation very meaningful.
(Besides, there is a current interested to rebuild it)
Going back to architecture, I found an interesting project that generates spatial and mesh structures…. It is called SIM 2011. Enrique Ramos combined physical simulation with evolutionary algorithms to create this environment where the user can customize a structure and see the physical feedback. It is much more sophisticated than Soda constructor and there is a more restricted group of possible users (architects, engineer and designers). However, it is a smaller project and does not have a community providing new inventions (as Soda did). Actually, I believe this project could be much more provocative if it could also understand each structure as a creature and use the simulated environment as a game in which many creations could compete, providing a broader understanding of the consequences of each design decision.