© Nathan William Smith
Supermodel City 2010

Columbia University GSAPP, 2010, Supermodel City 2010, c. Keith Kaseman

sector c *see studio progression/discussion concerning cities at the SMC2010 blog


The game: A city is a variegated set of cultural influences. It stems from an initial condition (host) and is transformed and mutilated by parasitic operatives that work in differing speeds, locales, powers, and times.You are about to play the most unusual game that has appeared in many years. It is not difficult, but because it is so different you will find it worthwhile to read the rules completely through before starting play. No attempt has been made to teach strategy, as each player will develop his own as he becomes familiar with the game. [adopted from the 1959 rules of RISK]

1 Object of the game

All organisms (host+parasite+host(n)+parasite(n)) are each moving towards a particular trajectory. The death of one of the organisms marks the completion of one phase of mutation. Host and parasite(s) have the ultimate goal of survival.The object of the game is to complete as many phases of infection and, in doing so, eliminate all players of the game.

2 Equipment:

The host, the parasites, the antigens, the sores, and the antibodies.The game board, X sets of pieces (6 pieces per set), 4 die (speed, location, power, and time), relationship cards, red card stack, and green card stack.

3 Preparation:

A host is determined and the parasites are poised for interaction. Each parasite, which has different characteristics as outlined below, can modify the host based on different antigens that determine speed, location (threshold), power, and time of a particular infection.Lay the game board out. Each player is given a set of 6 pieces of the same color. Place the red and green cards on their respective places on the game board. Spread the relationship cards face down, in a shuffled stack.

4 Game Pieces:

The host-parasite relationship can be broken into 4 main categories: •Mutualism: Symbiotic relationship between host and parasite where both benefit (positive vs. positive). •Competition: Symbiotic relationship between host and parasite where neither benefit (negative vs. negative). •Commensalism: A relationship in which one organism benefits and the other is not affected (negative-positive vs. non-charged). oHost as beneficiary (positively or negatively) oParasite as beneficiary (positively or negatively) •Parasitism: A relationship in which one organism benefits and the other is harmed (positive versus negative). oHost as beneficiary oParasite as beneficiary There are X sets of colored pieces. In each set, there are 6 different types of pieces that have the ability to move along the game board and affect play in the game and versus other players in the following ways: Piece M: Makes the game board grow and the piece grow, centered around the space played on, in an equal relationship. Piece CT: Makes both game board and piece shrink, centered around the space played on, in an equal relationship Piece CM1: The space around the piece is transformed, while the piece itself remains unchanged. Piece CM2: The piece is transformed, while the space around the piece remains unchanged. Piece P1: The space grows and expands, while the piece shrinks and disintegrates in an inverse relationship. PieceP2: The piece grows and expands, while the space shrinks and disintegrates in an inverse relationship. Each piece also has specific properties that are determined by pulling a corresponding card from the relationship card set. These cards not only determine which piece is in play, but how one game piece interacts with another game piece during direct battle between pieces (more information below).

5 Game Play:

Each parasite begins to interact with the host according to its typology and the random antigens that determine each parasites speed, locale, power, and time. As each parasite creates an action upon the host, the original host is changed, is mutated, is transformed into a new topography in micro and macro scales. This mutated host becomes the new host (n+1) in which new parasites act upon it until a completely new mutation happens, etcetera. The operatives of both parasite and host force one and another towards depletion. At the point of complete deterioration of an organism (whether host or parasite), a new phase of mutation is entered. Parasites directly affect the host, thus creating new spatial topographies. Once a particular parasite alters the host past a certain threshold (T), sores are created (positive) or antibodies occur (negative) that alter the affects of the parasites and the already-mutated host. Parasites have the ability to affect the properties of other parasites based on each parasite’s operational value at the point of interaction. During this interaction, parasites gain and lose operational power based on each original parasites characteristics. Generally, a certain parasite will have the power to eliminate all other parasites, except those of the same grouping, thus deciding the final form of the host. The typology of this particular parasite will also determine what ultimately happens to the host (whether the relationship is symbiotic or not). Each player rolls the Power die to determine who goes first (person with the highest number as goes first). That player picks a card at random from the relationship card set. Each card has a different type of piece relationship and determines which piece is played during that turn (this card will be used again, in the future, during interaction between other players’ pieces). The player then rolls all antigen 4 die and moves his/her piece according to the amounts on each die. At this moment, the piece reacts with the game board, thus affecting the structure of the game board for the next player(s). The next player performs the same tasks, picking a card from the relationship set, rolling the die, and moving his/her pieces accordingly. Once the game board has transformed, the sore space(s) (red cards) and antibody space(s) (green cards) will appear. If a player lands on one of these spaces during play, he/she must pull from the corresponding card pile and follow the directions according to the card. Generally, sore cards allow the player to grow new elements on the game board while antibody cards reduce the amount of impact that the pieces have on the game board. If a player’s piece lands on a space currently occupied by another player’s piece, then a piece-to-piece interaction starts. Players then reference the initial cards that pertain to the particular pieces in order to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of each piece, which then determines the power level added or subtracted to each piece, depending on which is stronger and which is weaker. The game ends once a player eliminates all of the other player’s pieces, which will then decide the final relationship and spatiality of the game board.

6 Conclusion

Adding culture as a methodology was a way to strengthen the experimentation of growth and decay so that such a test did not purely result in physical action and reaction. Yet, this is exactly what did happen, just under the name of culture. Further steps need to be taken in order to embed the model and overall test with more detail, value, texture, and flavor. The request of embedding any and all creations with a sense of tone is something that I’ve taken from this studio and have used it in other projects as a way to design even the representation of the manifestation. But toning or flavoring goes beyond a simple aesthetic; it begs at that question of what type of phenomenological quality is trying to be evoked through designed space. This aims at showing more than just the object itself, but as a representation of the ephemeral and of the subjective, qualities which might not reside in the typical architectural representation of drawing. The drawing moves beyond mere representation and becomes a design unto itself and can be used as a way to re-work the architectural design through the flavor. The flavor is essentially the style of the creator, something which is sometimes subconsciously injected into all creations of the designer. Designing a city is a difficult task and involves a constant questioning of the current city, if the typology of city can even be classified as a simple entity. Sure, architecture provides the framework for the city, but it is ultimately the inhabitants which alter the city into the depth of place in which people inhabit and live. This project aimed at studying the relationship that people have with the city and worked at creating a framework that allowed such dynamisms to happen. Yet, I now think that creating this possibility makes it too easy. Its the rigidity of the current city that makes people emotional, opinionated, and critical. Allowing inhabitants freedom of change solidifies nothing. Buildings are the dependable things in a city and when they are allowed to by as dynamic as the human body, they fail at being classified as places of refuge. Yet, the ideal of showing the complexity and internal chaos that happens within and around a city is a great theme to utilize in the creation of spaces. This would be more of a reaction than an action though, unlike this studio project which created the action of reaction, not vice-versa. This project also concerns a questioning of using computation, parametricism, and randomness as architectural modes of creation. Grasshopper is a tool with the potential of creating efficient models based on specific parameters. This project forced a misuse of the tool as a way to also learn how to use it properly. Instead of using actual metrics, relationships were used as a base and futher compounded on each other in the creation of a fully-relational model. Yet, without the use of metrics, scale is difficult to determine and is something that I struggled with for some time. In this sense, it could be at any scale because the relationships would just be scaled along with the model itself. Although this presents an interesting polemic in the creation of the scaleless object, scale is what makes it architectural.

7 References

RISK by Hasbro

8 Software

Rhinoceros 3D Grasshopper Autodesk Architectural Desktop ASGVIS Vray Adobe Creative Suite