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Embodied intelligence: changing expectations in building performance

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel Armstrong


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This article proposes a theory and practice of embodied intelligence in the built environment that has been precipitated by an age of advanced biotechnological developments, which enable us to design and engineer with living systems. The idea of ‘intelligence’ used in this article is not based on a human understanding of the concept but rather as a distributed, responsive material not dissimilar to primitive cellular organisms such as slime moulds. Yet designing and engineering with living systems as responsive matter whose embodied ‘intelligence’ is distributed and networked – rather than central and hierarchical – is a very different kind of undertaking to working with machines. By taking an experimental approach, my work aims to explore emerging ‘natural computing’ approaches to assist with thinking about the performance of lively materials capable of primitive decision-making operations, which may be of value to design practices such as Bio Design. Notably,embodied intelligence may offer a different way of understanding the issue of sustainability in the built environment in which the longevity of material integrity – and therefore reduction in building maintenance – may be enhanced by simple ‘decisions’. Rather than evaluating building performance through industrial definitions, which looks to material and energy conservation, embodied intelligence engages the capacity of our buildings to support the processes of life and so, increases the fertility of our homes and cities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Armstrong R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Intelligent Buildings International

Year: 2016

Volume: 8

Issue: 1

Pages: 4-23

Print publication date: 01/01/2016

Online publication date: 30/06/2015

Acceptance date: 09/05/2015

ISSN (print): 1750-8975

ISSN (electronic): 1756-6932

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/17508975.2015.1050581

Notes: Pub Date: 2015-06-30T08:45:28Z


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