Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spontaneity vs. rigorous randomness

[Previously on
Jeff Kipnis says, "Process justifies everything these days, and architecture is being pulled away from its goals."

Some people claim form and function is an obsolete pairing in architecture. But I think it's still a valid issue to discuss now since I still see architects continuously struggle between beauty and performance. Flashy images show you either the talents of the magic hand, or endless manipulations of geometry. But when it comes to simple questions such as how to make circulation work, or how to run the ducts in there, nobody can answer.

Geniuses like to act upon impulses without premeditation. They will say, don't worry about those mundane constraints and you will be free to create art. But in architecture, a spontaneous process can only create problems. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, no matter how beautiful it is. When it's against the code, can you still fight for it? "Sure, the code-compliant version is so ugly!"

I don't mean I am against chance encounters. But explorations are adventures with goals and rigor. Experiment holds the purpose of discovery. "Opportunity favors the prepared mind." If you don't have any criteria set in your mind, you can't even determine "Yes, this is it!" when it comes up. But exploration is not a linear process either - not everything needs a reason. If there's no need or no way to control, just let it be. There can be equal probability results. Just pick one. In this case, randomness becomes a visualization of a rigorous mechanism. The Bird's Nest "randomly" comes to my mind. The apparently random pattern actually contains at least four layers of intentions: primary structure, lateral support, MEP ductwork, and circulation. This is a good example of what I would call "rigorous randomness."

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