No. 14 (2023): Digital Culture. What's Next?
We live in an era characterized by profound changes in the way we perceive and interact with the world, guided by the driving force of digital technologies, a phenomenon many authors have no hesitation in calling a Fourth Industrial Revolution. As diverse as these changes may be in the realm of architecture, they are inevitably embedded in a long-standing negotiation of formal codes, as suggested in Antoine Picon’s Digital Culture in Architecture (2010) and Mario Carpo’s The Alphabet and the Algorithm (2011), ultimately leading Reinhold Martin to ask: “Is digital culture secular?”
Despite the inevitable links with past codes, soft architecture technologies based on speculative intelligence are leaving behind what Nicholas Negroponte named “Soft Architecture Machines,” in which hardware still ruled, and opening a new era which is definitely distinct from the First or Second Machine Ages, as identified by Reyner Banham. Indeed, these digital changes are part of a deeper historical change. We are experiencing a growing political instability on a global scale, in which social inequality is increasing, while the worldwide urban population has surpassed the entire rural population. These phenomena have given rise to problems in urban policies, such as a lack of quality housing, social segregation, and the informal growth of cities. The evolving and nearly unavoidable phenomenon of climate change has been accompanied by a growing awareness of the effects of human activity on the planet and of the urgent need to achieve a measure of environmental sustainability. These changes all have direct consequences for the practice of architecture.
After reflecting in issue 13 on how memory can act as a catalyst for architectural thinking within the singular mind of the creative individual, the particular interest of Joelho – Journal of Architectural Culture #14 is in how shared and collaborative processes, driven by the architect operating within this digital culture, are motivating experimental architectural and urban practices that are attempting to confront the associated political, environmental, and social concerns. Apart from the digital turn advanced by a rhetoric founded on aesthetic novelty or on innovative, conceptual ways of making, the undeniable strength of digital tools resides in how, and by what means, they might contribute to a more environmentally, politically and socially responsible architectural practice.