wk14 reading response

Architectural Curvilinearity: Greg Lynn

Reacting to the popular deconstructivist approach, Greg Lynn worked to find other ways of combining complex programmes and disassociated elements of particular sites and contexts.  Instead of embodying social, cultural, and physical differences in formal conflicts, he sought to create “folded architecture” that began to both formally and programmatically, aesthetically and tectonically roll and layer discrete differences into a cohesive whole.  The resultant architecture became a continuous language that was much more complex and complete than merely formally juxtaposing incongruities.

“Pliancy allows architecture to become involved in complexity through flexibility.  It may be possible to neither repress the complex relations of differences with fixed points of resolution nor arrest them in contradictions, but sustain them through flexible, unpredicted, local connections”.

The above quote is how Lynn begins to synthesize some of the ideas he appropriates from Deleuze on the nature of smoothness and continuous variations/continuous development.  What I think is so interesting about this quote, though, in the unencumbered way which Lynn applies ideas of nature and living.  Diversity is not a new idea to the biological sciences.  It is a basic prerequisite to life.  Yet it has largely gone unnoticed in the architectural discipline, who has concerned itself primarily with critical form exploration.  Lynn approaches this notion of diversity from an entirely new vantage point.  He doesn’t want to point out differences for the sake of formal definition.  Rather, he wants to design for flexibility, adaptability, in a way that will provide opportunities for unpredicted connections and interactions.  He isn’t simply designing diversity into the form, but is trying to create an architecture that might accommodate or promote diversity, ultimately in a cohesive way.

He tests the ideas of folding, because, as he says, its process of overturning and layering will “mix smoothly multiple ingredients in such a way that their individual characteristics are maintained”.  Additionally, folding allows for the emergence of viscous mixtures.  That is to say “the nature of pliant forms is that they are sticky and flexible… As pliant forms are manipulated and deformed the things that stick to their surfaces become incorporated into their interior”.  What Lynn alludes to here is what some biologists might call adaptation.  Within an ecosystem, each part has an effect on every other part, therefore one small change in the system tends to have a ripple-effect and cause a large change in the whole.  It seems as if this is what Lynn is talking about in regards to pliant forms.  This pliant characteristic of architecture has the opportunity to be excellently adept because the architecture itself grows and changes with a changing environment/context.  It internalizes external forces.  It is never static.  Rather it has dynamic stability.  It is able to quickly make itself relevant again given ever-changing circumstances.

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