Robert Stuart Smith: Formation and polyvalence: self-organisation of architectural matter


Kokkugia has developed agent based methodologies for a wide range of architectural projects that articulate spatial, structural, environmental, and material organisational strategies. Working at micro and marco scales, Kokkugia’s work embraces the sciences of complexity, and seeks to develop architecture as emergent phenomena. This posits an emphasis of architecture as the designed organisation of matter, whereby multiple and often conflicting design criteria are drawn together within a negotiated solution. In this sense, architectural matter performs as an integrated tectonic, where formation in material orders coherent architectural performances and affects. Such organisational strategies work across larger field conditions or networks, where one is concerned with a larger organisation more so than the discrete role of any one part.

As a behavioural design approach, architectural design intent is translated into desires and constraints initiated within algorithmic code. This is an indirect control, where the designer performs numerous acts of inception in order to draw the algorithmic behaviour towards desirable results utilising event based software code.

Recently, this agenda has expanded into environmental and temporal aspects of design. Robert will discuss his teaching in the Design Research Laboratory at the Architectural Association in London where this research into self-organisation is explored through social, material and fabrication scenarios, that attempt to draw out qualitative aspects to building life cycle, exploring polyvalency and environmental responsiveness as designed affect.

Robert Stuart-Smith is a Design Director and a Founding Partner of Kokkugia. He holds a Masters in Architecture + Urbanism from the Architectural Association School of Architecture’s Design Research Laboratory (AA.DRL). Robert teaches at the AA where he is a Studio Course Master in the AA.DRL. He has previously taught at RMIT University (Australia), the University of East London (UK), and is an internationally invited lecturer and critic.

Robert has extensive experience in cultural, commercial and infrastructural projects, gained from working in the offices of Lab Architecture Studio and Sir Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners prior to co-founding Kokkugia. During this period he worked on projects such as the Southern Cross Station (Melbourne), Federation Square (Melbourne), Museo Del Acero (Monterrey), and Fulton St Transit Centre (New York City).

Robert’s research focuses on self-organisational systems and developmental growth, pursuing qualitative building life cycle design affects that are polyvalent and environmentally responsive. He also leads Kokkugia’s consultation to Cecil Balmond on non-linear algorithmic design research.