The scope of the text:
The following text has been written to describe the potential for Decentralised Autonomous Organisations for design and research activities. We define DAOs as Decentralised Autonomous Organisations operating on the Ethereum blockchain via smart contracts through the DAOstack.io platform.
We have started designing our own DAO as a prototype that would connect governance and decision making with architects (of real buildings) and their digital tools. The theoretical model is described in a peer-reviewed academic paper titled ‘Blockchain Grammars” published in the Computer Aided Architectural Design research in Asia Conference, held in Wellington, New Zealand, this past April. You can find the paper on Cumincad here: or you can read it on the archchain.cc website here:
What is the Archchain project.
Archchain is a project that encompasses applications of blockchain and distributed ledgers in the design and management of buildings and cities.
The BIMChain subproject is an integration project between blockchain(s) and building Information modelling applications. The project seeks to redefine value creation, trust, and collaboration in architectural design and the built environment. BIM-to-Blockchain integration subproject is currently developing three prototypes, using the Ethereum public blockchain. The prototypes focus in the conceptual architectural design, in team collaboration and in “digital twins”post-occupancy operation of buildings. BIM-to-Blockchain Integration has been funded by the pump priming research fund of the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
What is the Blockchain grammars sub-project and how do we envision this to work.
The Blockchain Grammars is essentially a DAO where people design and vote on the creation of shape grammars, i.e. algorithmic constructs that have a design output. To simplify: a DAO that creates recipes for design (in a digital manner). Since our initial idea is that CAD researchers would like to participate in the DAO, we thought that we would use Shape grammars as vehicle for encoding design decisions. Design needs a target and as such we have create the notional target that the DAO would attempt to design the most integrated, compact apartment layout possible. However the DAO will have an autonomy from its first creators and it might very well be that participants decide to change the initial design target, in a process of collective design intelligence. Our premise is to conduct research and analyse how the DAO will be making design decisions so that we are able to build the best digital tools for designers, whether on-chain or off-chain to enable the best possible decisions. A side
Why this is both a design DAO and a research project.
For us this is research project in making better tools for designers, i.e. research for design. To be a able to actually understand though the tool requirements, we first have to conduct design as research.
Potential constraints of the Blockchain grammars
friction with how the voting method works
timelag between design formulation and design approval because of the voting method.
alchemy’s web interface has a learning curve
the shape grammar paradigm might throw non-academics off.
What do we expect to observe:
The mechanisms by which designers and non-designers interact to create and evaluate a piece of design.
The mechanisms that designers would like to have to connect their digital tools to smart contracts on a blockchain, for governance purposes.
The potential for human and automated agents to collaborate in governing a design project.
The differences (or lack thereof) between the governance of a design project on-chain and off-chain.
All comments and questions welcome.