Why architects need a philosophy to guide the AI ​​design revolution.

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Two decades ago, Lord Norman Foster, one of Britain's great architects, said that an architect designs for the present with an awareness of the past, essentially for an unknown future. These days, architects are delving deeper into the unknown as AI tools like Dall-E and Midjourney create blueprints and turn them into photorealistic images in seconds instead of weeks.

Will these new AI tools put architects out of business? Not required. But they should serve as a wake-up call to the profession. Architects need to re-evaluate their role in society and adopt interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in their daily work. Philosophical inquiry, in particular, can add innovative ideas to architecture and create spaces that resonate with deep human experiences and values, something that AI tools cannot (yet) do well. .

Architecture and Philosophy

Scratch beneath the surface and you'll find that architecture is an intrinsically philosophical enterprise based on aesthetics and ethics, including theories of human nature. Philosophy plays an important role in creating spaces that go beyond mere functionality. It encourages architects to consider the moral and ethical implications of their work and to think about the impact their designs have on individuals and communities, as well as the natural environment. The way we think about our homes, and what makes a beautiful building, is deeply philosophical because it also reflects how we see ourselves and humanity at large. By weaving philosophical ideas with the art of design, architecture allows us to explore the essence of human existence, shaping our values, beliefs and aspirations.

The relationship between architecture and philosophy is deeply embedded in both design practice and theoretical discourse. Prominent 20th-century philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida made a big mark on famous buildings constructed in recent decades: from the inspiring writings of Kenneth Frampton to the inspiring modernism of Rem Koolhaas and Peter Eisenman. Up to the design. The profound, often discrete, influence of philosophy on architecture can also be seen in the recent practice of adaptive reuse, the process of converting empty buildings into schools, public parks, offices or apartments. Adaptive reuse raises a number of thorny philosophical questions, not least: Does a historical object lose its historical significance if it is radically altered? The paradox of the identity-over-time thesis comes to mind here. If the ship Theseus sailed on was completely overhauled and almost every part replaced, is it still the same ship? This question has been central to recent debates about historic preservation, with many now arguing that it is preserving the idea, not the original material, that matters most.

New AI architecture tools will, in the short term, make good design affordable and accessible. A quick look at social media reminds us that architectural design is increasingly being used by non-architects as a visual medium in its own right, which will return to real architecture as people become more adept at connecting AI vision. They get sick. But AI will still fall short when it comes to understanding human nature, as well as our emotional and dignity needs. Dignity means more than just the absence of humiliation. It also requires recognition, expressed through nine core human needs: reason, security, human rights, accountability, transparency, justice, opportunity, innovation, and inclusiveness.

These noble imperatives form the backbone of blueprints for future construction, as they do for sustainable governance, peace and security, collective civilizational progress, and the future of humanity at large. Cultural architectural projects, of which there are currently few, must also be influenced by non-Western influences, such as the Alhambra in Granada and the Great Mosque of Córdoba (which was converted into a cathedral in 1236). These Arab-Islamic architectural gems in Spain are reminders of the significant Arab influence on Western Gothic architecture: from Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Duomo in Florence and the Washington National Cathedral, among others. Each high point in the history of human civilization has occurred after building on the achievements of other cultures—a process I call the ocean model of civilization. Without these cultural exchanges, architecture would stagnate.

The dome of the Mihrab in the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Credit: Judy Morris from Oxford / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Why architects need a philosophy to guide the AI ​​design revolution. 2

Out-of-the-box thinking in architecture is certainly nothing new. The late 1960s and 1970s, a time when the dominance of modernism crumbled under the pressure of emerging alternatives, saw architects in other fields looking for new inspiration, from architecture to science and philosophy. Looking to the future, tomorrow's architects will need to be equipped with interdisciplinary tools such as neuro-techno-philosophy, a framework that I call the AI-neuroscience-philosophy nexus at the foundation of our society today. is introduced for Doing so will help ensure that future buildings are aligned with our neurobiological predispositions, neurobehavioral needs, desires, and values ​​for collective peace and prosperity. Needless to say, it is not just our urban landscapes that will benefit from these transitional knowledge transfers. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist, embraced architecture as a conceptual tool for understanding the structure of the human psyche.

More than a century after Jung's dream of a multi-story house helped develop his idea of ​​the collective unconscious, we're seeing modern interdisciplinary approaches to architecture take root around the world.

More than a century after Jung's dream of a multi-story house helped develop his idea of ​​the collective unconscious, we're seeing modern interdisciplinary approaches to architecture take root around the world. This includes “The Line,” a linear smart city under construction as part of Saudi Arabia's futuristic Neom project that redefines the concept of urban development. The self-proclaimed “cognitive city” gives us a glimpse of what the cities of the future might look like: highly connected, AI-supported, psychologically reflective, multicultural environments made of cars, emissions, and even roads. are pure Designed to run entirely on renewable energy and with plans to make 95% of the land a nature reserve, The Line's embrace of Zero Gravity Urbanism, an approach that encourages collective well-being, It can offer a model for other cities of the future that want to prioritize nature conservation. Liveability, and sustainable human development.

The dawn of a new era defined by AI and other disruptive technologies can lead to positive transitional changes in architecture—but only if we combine human psychological well-being and neurophilosophical reflections with visionary technological innovations and environmental sustainability. Be coordinated. By tying these aspects together, the next generation of architects has the opportunity to be on the front foot for a more sustainable, peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for all and to develop collective, symbolic, and harmonious cultural understandings. .

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