BT Technology Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 49–56 | Cite as

Synthetic networks — Spatial, social, structural and computational



Architecture, the art and science of designing the built environment, has proved to be a highly challenging area of application for computer science. This may be partly to do with the difficulty experienced by those without an architectural training in trying to understand exactly what design of the built environment entails. This is hardly helped by the descriptions that architects themselves give of this activity which tend either to paint it as more rational than it is, or to surround it with the mystique of the individual artistic genius. However, computers are now firmly placed at the centre of architectural practice, and the number of computers embedded in buildings themselves is increasing rapidly. This paper reviews the relationship between computing and architecture by describing a series of recent and current research projects in which the boundary between the digital and real world is explored, taking as their basis architectural theories derived from space syntax research. It describes the changing role of computing as a design medium, the embedding of computing in the buildings we design, and the broader theoretical contribution that architectural research is beginning to make to our understanding of the nature of human cognition and so to the field of artificial intelligence. It concludes that the relationship between the discipline of architecture and contemporary developments in the theory surrounding computing result from the need for both to be based on an epistemology of the extended mind.


Augmented Reality Virtual World Extended Mind Synthetic Network Shape Grammar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Penn

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