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research & design

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Scale-free Network




Motility: Difference
& Rhythm Analysis

Resposonsive Surface

Smart Geometry Workshop
2010, Barcelona


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Working with LabStudio this project is situated within a larger research framework that aims to garner new ways of understanding design as a complex multi-variable system. In collaboration with the Institute for Medicine and Engineering and the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, our research group seeks to design and explore generative tools to investigate and inform the relationship between biology and design.

This project explored new ways of modeling non-linear cellular networking of endothelial cells in the human lung. Using GenerativeComponents, we aspired to explore potential parameters that promote or prohibit networking behavior, including intercellular communication, environmental instigators, and cellular geometry. Given the models developed thus far, we are capable of measuring relative forces, rates of change amongst those forces, angles of attraction amongst cells, and rules of proximity. Furthermore, these variables can be adjusted to create stable or unstable networks.

The main function of the lung is to allow for efficient gas exchange between the airways and blood vessels in post-natal life onwards. However, determining how networks of blood vessels are generated and maintained during development represents a major challenge in contemporary lung biology. Thus, we sought to sequentially model the process of tube formation in vitro and in silico, and then hypothesize as to how this process could inform design. Utilizing emerging digital techniques, we have studied the parameters that govern EC morphology in response to the underlying extracellular matrix (ECM), and how this alters cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions during networking. By comparing the behavior of human lung ECs cultured either on polysytrene (i.e. a non-networking branching environment) with those cultivated on reconstituted ECM (i.e. a condition that promotes network formation), we suggest that there are more than merely visible parameters governing the emergent structures and networks that eventually give rise to EC networks.

As we develop these new tools we are continually asking how this could influence the role of the designer in an ever evolving and complex world. In this regard, we have explored how this system can materialize as an architectural proposition. The networking algorithms have integrated ‘real world’ environmental inputs, including floors, walls, and ceilings/roofs that have led to large scale physical models to study the affect of non-linear networking in 3 dimensions. Furthermore, we hope that as our tools continue to develop, so to do the sophistication of their deployment, one day leading to a more intelligent, self sustaining architecture and building solution.

Project Credits:

Upenn Independent Study Spring 08 (Sabin).

Jonathan Asher



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