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What’s Gnarly?

I created the Gnarly Architecture Blog to explore where computer science meets architectural art. “Gnarly,” the surfer term co-opted by the computer hacker community, describes exceptionally fun and elegant software. Applied to architecture, gnarly happens when cool computation appears in built form.

From the Platonic Forms to “blobitecture,” mathematics and computation have long partnered with art and architecture. Indeed computer tools are ever changing our built environments as they allow the best designers to create forms never before possible while enabling the average practitioner to make unending copies of easy, thoughtless designs.

If tee-squares and triangles encouraged all angles to be 30, 45 and 90 degrees, 3-d modeling tools have led to extruded boxes sold by flashy renderings. Beyond boxes, however, I have faith that computers and digital fabrication will resurrect the art and detail found in previous eras.

Finnish National Library, Helsinki, Finland

In this blog I chronicle my experiences threading the path between the worlds of high-end computer science and the best of aesthetic design in art and architecture. I seek what is good, beautiful and fun in computed design and I aspire to take it further. Will gnarly computation enable us to create great human environments like the medieval Italian hill town illustrated in the header bar above?  Or gorgeous structures like this 1860’s cast iron library in Helsinki?  What exactly would a fractal building look like? This is the level of art for which I aim and, whatever your goals are, I challenge you to set them equally high.

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