Boids, 1986, was developed by computer graphics programmer Craig Reynolds. It was the first computer simulation of swarm and emergent behaviour. An abbreviation of “Bird-oid object”, “boid” phonetically mimics the word “bird” spoken with a New Jersey accent. According to Reynolds: “each boid is implemented as an independent actor that navigates according to its local perception of the dynamic environment, the laws of simulated physics that rule its motion, and a set of behaviors programmed into it by the ‘animator’. The aggregate motion of the simulated flock is the result of the dense interaction of the relatively simple behaviors of the individual simulated boids.”

Boids simulates the phenomenon of emergence, the characteristic of swarms, shoals of fish and flocking behaviour of birds in which the pattern and coherence of the whole arise through interactions of parts that do not exhibit those patterns as individuals. “From an abstract point of view, swarm behaviour is the collective motion of a large number of self-propelled entities. From the perspective of the mathematical modeler, it is an emergent behaviour arising from simple rules that are followed by individuals and does not involve any central coordination.” Emergence describes the relationship between autonomous, individualism and group determination that gives cohesion to a flock.

The phenomenon of emergence is useful in describing any complex system that derives its architecture from the interaction of interdependent agents. Stock markets and free-market economies are examples of systems in which the whole is defined by individuals operating autonomously to shape a system without specific intention to affect change.

Located adjacent to the Fraser River estuary, IntraUrban is situated in a complex industrial and ecological edge condition. The ecological heritage of the site asserts itself trough the inter-modal industrial landscape of barge, train and road traffic, the legacy of heavy industry and emerging economies of technology, service and consumer goods. Flocks of resident and migratory coastal birds occupy the landscape along with shoals of fish that persist in the murky intertidal waters.
In this context, IntraUrban offers a habitat of sorts to a niche of business entrepreneurs. Representing neither the bootstrap temerity of the start-up tech sector nor the powerhouse of established corporations, IntraUrban’s small-bay format is geared toward the small business sector. Localized, family owned, individualized, diverse; IntraUrban’s clientele are the broad-shoulders of Vancouver that support families and communities, service basic needs and employ a local workforce. Differentiated, as all successful businesses must be, but not defined by difference, the success IntraUrban’s community is found in the balance between individual and milieu.

Client: PC Urban
Public Art Consultant: Ballard Fine Art
Structural Consultant: Latera Engineering
Fabricator: Unlimited Fabrication
Year: 2017