Category Archives: Remita Thomas

T1- On growth and form – D’Arcy W. Thompson



parts and whole;connections and interactions

Part and whole; connections and interactions


The topic of debate seem to be whether “forms” (in general) are a result of a general rule (a whole) that contains or parts that mould the whole.

D’Arcy Thompson in his book On Growth and form describes how the form of living organisms have a general mathematical equation of “path” which may be deformed to form variants of the same ”type” due to the action of various external forces. His method also corroborates the parallel existence of different “types“. He also argues that just as the external from is deformed, the internal organs also respond to this general deformation of form. Evidently this suggests an arborescent or top-down system.

While Deleuze and DeLanda thinks otherwise. They assert a bottom-up or rhizome system where each individual (at whatever scale) is capable of altering the whole although the extent may vary and the end result may even be unintentional (as suggested by Steven Johnson in the concept of “emergence”).

It is easy to be step into the deception that the Thompson’s work is in strict contradiction with the rest. However, if we look more deeply we see that he leaves the explanation of “single case” to the existence of rhizomatic properties within a whole and also the interaction of parts with the environment. It is to be noted that his argument about the existence of parallel “types” is in sync with idea of “multiplicity”.

One must argue that if the purpose of “form” at whatever level it may be, is to exist (stabilize) and to thrive (grow) then, there must be a ‘general rule’ just as there is a ‘general purpose’. The “single case” however is definitely an outcome of individual/parts/inputs/data etc. and their interactions integrated into this general form. It is fair to argue that if  the interaction between 2 parts have an effect on each of them and if interaction of parts to environment affects the parts, then there should be a counter effect of this on the environment as well. Therefore, the process of form-making becomes more and more specific with the introduction of time as yet another factor of interaction (an example would be evolution). Another simple eg: The purpose of every city is to live and thrive (general rule) depending on its environment (external factors) individuals living within them interact and form settlements, continued interactions over time forms culture, increases demands and slowly other forces* social, economic, political and technology etc. also forms part of the interaction forming rhizomes causing emergence, but all this happens on general whole.

*Forces acting on a whole, DeLanda says looking from this perspective one can even redefine history.

I believe that the idea of “parametics” should be made use of in this sense. Where the architect is the one aware of the general rules and is able to program (taking into account the forces) and work with machines (as suggested by Negroponte in Toward a theory of Architecture machines)  to come up with multiple “creative” solutions to the problems of “form” at any level of human existence.

Topic of interest: What is the prevailing “general” form type of a given city. Is it possible to categorize them as tree and rhizome? If the relationship in more complex how can we understand the general growth pattern?

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T1: “The conditioned outdoor room”- Rudofsky


Towards a Hyperspace

Advancement essentially requires a point of reference. This I believe can be derived with a deep understanding of the past, challenges of  the present and needs of the future.

A human being is fundamentally yet another living organism in nature, which to a large extent has adapted itself to the various force and elements within nature. Dubbed the “superior being” man has since time immemorial developed methods of sustaining himself by means of a symbiotic existence within nature. In the recent past however, this relationship was disrupted owing to various socioeconomic changes as well as technological advancements which brought about an utopia of “boxed comfort”. Over the years, this box has in turns produced a being that is inseparable from technology but at the same time one that has been undernourished due its disassociation with nature. Given this context, I believe advanced architecture stepped in to bridge this gap and continues to evolve towards achieving a symbiotic relationship with today’s high-tech being and his natural environment.

Text analysis:-

Talking about “Conditioned Outdoor room” or gardens Rudofsky stresses on the need to  adapt to nature and not isolate oneself from it. In his text he describes how the importance and functions of a house garden has changed over the history, taking examples of Pompeii to Japanese garden to lawns in an average north American house. He portrays gardens as a kind of in-between space; between the built(man-made) and the un-built(natural) environments where Man can be at his comfortable level with both. He delineates the possibility of using gardens as a buffer to harsh climate through an environmental relationship with the house and the outdoor. The advantages of  positional relationship of “enclosing” garden walls with that of house and a metaphorical relationship(in terms of function) of a less celebrated “non-utilitarian” wall with that of a tree are a few other insights of the text. This text however, completely overlooks the reality that today man is inseparable from technology which for the most part is at conflict with nature. This brings the need for a more holistic definition of “conditioned outdoor room” the relation perhaps could be a disturbed one. Also the inevitable questions;  if such a “room” is possible in every dwelling given today’s urban congestion,pollution and price of land.

House study:-

In more recent projects such as Studio House (by F451 Arquitectura),although the idea of a definite “conditioned outdoor room” as suggested by Rudofsky’s relatively older text is absent, nevertheless the concept of using natural environment to attain human comfort is evident. The building, through its functional organization, orientation and location on site is in an environmental relationship with its surrounding. The building, like a well adapted living organism cuts on the loss, stores and takes advantage of the available energy by being partially underground, through storage of rainwater and use of North lights respectively.


As a possible conclusion we should rather strive to incorporate the effect or benefits of a “conditioned outdoor room” in a human habitat rather than get fixated purely on the more primitive idea of a “garden” itself.

The notion of a “hyperspace” where human beings, nature and technology does not merely coexist but forms a symbiotic relation with each other.

Possible Research topic:

To explore if  human relationship with environment is possible in a so called “extreme/harsh environment” taking into consideration technological advancement and if so, to what extent could this relationship be symbiotic.

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