Architecture & Artificial Intelligence
November 2-3, 2022
University of Michigan

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The Neural Architecture Symposium at Taubman College presents itself as an opportunity to survey the emerging field of Architecture and Artificial Intelligence, and to reflect on the implications of a world increasingly entangled in questions of the agency, culture, and ethics of AI. This rapidly developing field of architectural inquiry is ripe for a rigorous interrogation. Almost daily, new practices emerge that focus on the incredible opportunities that an expanded human mind through AI offer for the discipline of architecture. At the same time, AI is observed with suspicion in regards of potentially displacing entire practices out of the field. The symposium oscillates between those poles of tension, in order to inform the public audience, and the discipline, about the status quo and the vision of this paradigm-changing new ecology of design.


AI is quite a generalist term, used to describe several varying approaches. In Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence is defined as the study of Intelligent Agents, which includes any device that perceives its environment and that takes actions to maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. In general, the term Artificial Intelligence is applied when a machine mimics cognitive functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as learning and problem-solving. The prevailing trajectory of this line of inquiry is preoccupated with aspects of optimization, such as ideas of optimizing floorplans, material consumption, and time schedules of construction sites – which cover the tamed problems of disciplinary considerations. At the same time, it interrogates the wicked problem in the production of architecture – creativity, intuition and sensibility. This opens ontological questions about the nature of creativity, it’s role in the inception of architectural projects, and the methods to evaluate this. This symposium and exhibition would be among the first of its kind, framing this problem in this particular way. Can an AI create a novel sensibility (?) -and if so: can we as humans perceive and understand it? This is one of a set of questions that the event is set out to examine and explicate through the format of the symposium. This symposium serves as a launch pad for the examination of an emergent field of technology that is currently profoundly changing multiple levels of society, economy and culture demonstrated through the use in the discipline of architecture.

The topic is presented through a series of lenses: design projects, speculations, theoretical considerations, and scientific insight. This combination allows for an insightful, but entertaining symposium, about a very pressing affair in architecture and society at large. The stunning visual quality of the projects and proposed architecture studios in combination with the voice of science and theory allow for a deep interrogation of a current development in architecture. This symposium and exhibition will provide insights into posthuman design methodologies operating in a world shifting away from an anthropocentric universe. We consider that, in the foreseen future, humans will continue USING THE MACHINE AS THEIR TOOL, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

The first genuinely 21st-century Architecture design method

Taubman College is perceived as a pioneer within this novel area of inquiry in the architecture discipline – an area that will affect every aspect of the discipline. Not only the theory but also the practice, the construction, and the use of architecture. It is possibly the first genuinely 21st-century Architecture development, as it will change the way architecture is conceived, designed, and built on a massive scale. Posing questions about authorship, the nature of ingenuity, of imagination, and creativity the proposition discusses a posthuman world operating within this frame of considerations. 

Demystifying Artificial Intelligence

A particular goal of this Symposium is to demystify Artificial Intelligence for the population of the architecture community as much as for the public at large. The term AI evokes dark pictures of dominance, control, and surveillance triggered through movie productions such as Terminator, The Matrix, and Ex Machina. Nothing could be farther away from the truth. The bigger danger these days are data abuse and bias in datasets. Both of which form part of a conversation within the program of the Symposium. For one the ethical questions of operating AI’s within the architecture discipline. Questions that are discussed in interdisciplinary panels consisting of architects, computer scientists and roboticists.

This event is supported by the Guido A. Binda Exhibit and Lecture fund.