1_Architecting the New

Shape, Figure, Pattern, Form: creating a contemporary architecture.

Shape: being. purpose. meaning. the architecture that does not try to impress. a cool architecture that believes and accepts itself. an architecture that doesn’t care about its form. an architecture whose form is created by internal developments. an unfolding of its function. in an age of superficial and skin architecture, an architecture that reworks the inside and doesn’t try to put make up on.

Form: the physical manifestation of a shape. form is to body as shape is to mind/consciousness/being

Figure: recognition/discrimination of a shape by an observer amongst a field of other shapes; the instance of differentiation, an instance of becoming/existing- where a thing is recognized as thing distinct from its background. a figure only exists if there is an observer (as opposed to a shape, that is completely inward driven, and whose actual form can’t be determined/known by the shape because the existence of a form presupposes an outside viewer and outside conditions. shape in itself is a universe. and a universe has no boundaries, it is completely defined by what is happening inside. (this does not mean it doenst have a form, it just means that the form is not what it is concerned about, i.e. its form is a result of its internal actions, and the form is not the objective of the internal actions.)  the figure is the outside form of a shape. it is a mental representation of boundary, of a division in space. a figure can only exist in a context of other things to which it is differentiating itself from, and it also implies an observer in whose consciousness these discriminating acts are occurring.  thus one sees that existence (being something new, being an entity, and therefore different from other things) only ‘exists’ in the eye of an observer, an observer that, interestingly, because of its inherent “shapeness” (it is something, an inward turned universe, an actual being) cannot ascertain its own form (consciousness is for him therefore formless and its boundary cannot be delineated from his perspective).

Pattern: a particular set of rules determining the aggregation of certain figures, in a larger set of figures, that makes this particular number of figures distinguishable from the rest, even though they don’t distinguish themselves individually from each other (they are all the same figure). pattern is the act of discrimination at background level. ‘background’ as in figure versus background where background is seen as everything else and therefore nothing new (no ‘figure’) can exist there, for it is all the same. pattern is creating difference when the figure cannot be changed, but change is still willed for. when there are so many figures that creating a new figure doesn’t mean anything because figure itself has become background, because when everything is new creating something new is not new, it is the norm. pattern is architecture based on language, where what is changed is the way things are arranged, creating a different meaning, a different figure, a different existence without changing the inner being of things. pattern is the creation of figures (new things) at a larger scale. pattern is creating meaning, existence, newness but using the old.

Note: talking about shape, figure, form and pattern the reader might associate them to certain scales, but they are in fact scale-less: the figure could be an entire building, the shape a door, pattern a floor, form a window, shape a building, etc these are terms that can be applied to anything one is studying.

to create new architecture:

  1. invent completely new shapes.(in architecture, shape is what the thing is, its function), which requires, or realizes itself in form. thus, create a new architectural function and what its form would be based on that.
  2. create a random new form, since that also means it has a function (a shape). we might not know what the function is from simply looking at it however. but form and shape are integrally related, thus creating a new form necessitates, concurrently, the creation of a new shape
  3. change the figure (outside/boundary/superficial form of a shape)
  4. change the form of a shape. the form we have now of a certain shape was the interpretation someone gave to a certain shape. it might be a very good interpretation because we have held to it for so long, but it is just one interpretation, reconstruct the shape (the form of the shape, keep the shape, i.e. the function)!
  5. keep all the existing shapes, don’t worry with changing them or their form, or figure, but assemble them into a pattern. there are usual ways things are arranged, e.g. columns are used with certain rules, for example to hold things up, the rule is structural. all columns are usually used that way therefore columns have become background, to create a pattern in that background create a new rule.

feel free to mix and stir!

examples of the above. number 1 – the most rare – look at history and the introduction of new functions, like for example of sacred congregation spaces (churches). number 2 look at the later work of eisenman. number 3 look at some of herzog and de meuron’s work. number 4 look at some of le corbusier’s work. number 5 look at some early eisenman work, and rem koolhaas’ stuff.



  1. let’s get it rolling…

  2. Very, very interesting in general!!! It was particularly interesting to me to read what you wrote about patterns. I was also intrigued by “form is to body what shape is to mind/conciousness/being”. I will give it all a second read and come back with more feed back…I am afraid I am just not that smart 😀

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