"Before heaven and earth were born, Solitary and silent, Stands alone and unchanging, Pervading all things without limit. It is like the mother of all things under heaven, But I don't know its name - Better call it TAO, Better call it great." (Lao Tzu)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Architecture as Fragmentation

Architecture, Involution and Schizophrenia

By Alex Brown

The disintegration of the Modern consensus and the rise of Post Modern and post-post Modern with its plethora of styles and fashions does require some explanation. The idea that there is no such meta-narrative which could explain such events is of course utterly wrong and denies the possibility of an historical explanation. Apparently, things just happen. Yeah, right.

As usual the question is why. Why would such a dominant and powerful style such as Modern collapse into a set of distinct sub-styles, regionalism, deconstructivism, neo-modernism and so on? Why would the architectural languge fragment into such a chaos of styles as we now have? Lets think.

When a particular style of architecture becomes dominant the question arises about where does it go from there. In other words, how does the  combination and recombination for forms generated by the mass of architects out of this great hegemonic style produce anything new. One need only look at the dominance of the Modern Movement from the 30s to the 60s and its eventual  disintegration in the 1970s into the 'postmodern Movement' noted as a diversity of stylistic options. Again, the study of history does not offer explanations for such a stylistic diversification other than the surely now discredited 'heroic', efforts of a few special architects who seem to change history. History only offers descriptions never explanations. The disintegration of a dominant style can be read in several ways but in this paper it is associated with the disintegration of a coherent consciousness into a cluster of fragments. Again, the issue is to examine the systemic level of architecture rather than the historical effects in order to understand the evolution of styles; their rise and disintegration. At the systemic level of architecture what is it that inevitably causes the destruction of the dominant style and its fragmentation into a number of sub-styles as in the PostModern era? In this paper this disintegration is examined by comparing it with the dissolution of an individual's self into a schizoid group of fragments. In both cases an environment impacts a dominant system and requires it to respond more authentically to the new reality. That can only mean the dissolution of the dominant style. 

Comparing individual psychology with that of a major system may seem strange and arbitrary but consider: they are both the products of communication and exchange within a gigantic network. Are we therefore just meaningless cyphers in such a great system? Nope. We are the system.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Architecture as Language!architecture-as-language/ccjl

Can we cut out the utterly subjective hero-based, individualistic understanding of architectural creation and realize what this creative design enterprise really is.

Who invented language? Who invented architecture? NO one! It is a thoroughly collective effort. Statement after individual statement derived from a common vocabulary and grammar which evolved out of precedent and history. Selection and combination of elements within an accepted grammatical frame that is the design process and that is how we select and combine the phrases we use. Do we feel restricted, limited by this system? No, we don't. Have a look at the millions of books in libraries and consider that they are the product of this systemic and collective discipline.

Of course if you want complete and individual freedom to create your own vocabulary, grammar and language, you are entirely free to do so. Unfortunately no one will understand a single syllable of what you say.

Read this

Thursday, July 23, 2015


By Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and the sooner the better!)
Of a cybernetic meadow
Where mammals and computers live together in mutually programmed harmony
Like pure water
Touching clear sky

I like to think (right now please!)
Of a cybernetic forest filled with pines and electronics
Where deer stroll peacefully past computers
As if they were flowers
With spinning blossoms

I like to think (it has to be)
Of a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors
And joined back to nature,
Returned to our mammal brothers and sisters
And all watched over by machines of loving grace.


Friday, July 03, 2015

        Front page to my website.
        With Thanks to Morphosis,Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Chinese calligraphers           and the ancients of Mesopotamia.
         Ah,history, howI love it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

                                          Sunday after lunch.But...........
I said:

Check it out.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

I have just established a new website. Reconstructing the info from this blog to be more visual and, for design people, more accessible. Have a look.

Its still under construction but very full and informative. Again: have a look, have a look. Oh, by the way did I say: have a look. I think it looks good and usable.

Alex Brown

I found this version and I like it, so up it goes, (Its called Spacetowers).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book: The Evolution of Modern Architecture: On the Origin of Styles

The Evolution of Modern Architecture
On the Origin of Styles

History is a catalogue of facts, but facts explain nothing and certainly not the origin of those very same facts. The emergence of whole new architectures cannot be explained by simply describing the buildings that define the character of the new architecture. The question is as usual 'why'. Why this as against that? Why these characteristics as against any other? The emergence and development of a new architecture and its eventual disintegration demands a new kind of explanation for these events. That explanation involves a recognition that new architectures emerge from a recombination of the old and a recombination produced by numerous architects each attempting to solve their own particular problems by selection, adaptation and combination of previous work to produce the new. Linking this mass of individual work to the emergence and development of architectures is the main theme of this book. The only coherent way to do this is to use Evolutionary and Complexity Theory which explains how the interaction of many agents within a system results in a consensus of form; in one case a species and in another, a style. Even with the same design processes different environmental conditions produce the emergence or decline of architectures.

Based on these theories this book explains the emergence and development of Modern Architecture and its final disintegration into the diversity of style evident in the Postmodern era.

Oh, by the way, forget the generative role of the avant-garde. They were in all cases behind the curve in terms of what the mass of architects were doing to solve their own unique problems. What the avant-garde did was to filter out of that mass of work clear cut and sometimes beautiful models of what was possible.

Remember: architecture is not buildings. Buildings are material objects. Architecture is the information that characterizes those buildings.

Cover design for the book.

Check out Amazon (Kindle) for this masterpiece. (Sorry I meant this book).

To read the first chapter go to left sidebar and select: 'Evolution of Modern Architecture - On the Origin of Styles'

Monday, November 04, 2013

A Vanished urbanism


Nostalgia? Oh yes. But nostalgia is a sense of loss. Why cant Modern urbanism give us this sense of texture and scale? So yes we have lost something.