TIME-BASED SYSTEMS
Anticipative and Improvisational Adaptation


Architectural Association / AA School / London


AA DRL Design as Research / 2011

Architecture is absolutely dependent on technology -whatever is available anywhere- but it is of especial importance in a flowing society such as the current. The use of cybernetics and the ICT have placed architecture in the realm of time-based systems, in terms of anticipative and improvisational adaptation.
This essay explores whether time-based systems can optimize the invested resources rather than the static models of traditional architecture, by analyzing the case of Cedric Price’s and Joan Littlewood’s Fun Palace, as the paradigm of adaptive architecture, also in regard with Gordon Pask’s contribution in cybernetics.
Time-based systems, in architecture, work as adaptive machines, in which ‘hardware’ -the building- can learn, control and change through ‘software’ -the technologic adaptive means-, for its users, from its users and by its users. This implies not only an adaptation by mechanisms of ‘resistance’ -or the virtue of anticipation by knowledge and control- but also of ‘resilience’ -or the capability of improvise by innovation- in order to achieve a ‘steadiness’ -or the pursue for stability- which guarantees a validity and meaning over the time.
Had the Fun Palace become obsolete after ten years, as Price stated -because society would have become of another kind-, the project would have paradoxically demonstrated that its system had been fully optimized at all times to respond to the expectations of its users, with maximum efficiency. It was conceived as an adaptive system, also in its assembly and disassembly phases, with a sustainable and coherent attitude towards any possible improvisation, even its end.


by Carles Sala