Sie sind auf Seite 1von 58

CONTENTS

Intro: Biology as a referent for architecture


Methodology
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Section 1: Creation
§ Information coding the built organism
§ Proteins as structural units
§ Self-similar structuring across the scale hierarchy
§ Information field of the built organism
The work of Peter Eisenman – House 11a and the Biocentrum
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Section 2: Body – Functional Efficiency


§ The Green Machine: Sustainable architecture
§ Aesthetics and the machine
§ ‘Architecture of screens’: Interactive skins
§ Functioning of the program
The w ork of Louis Kahn
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Section 3: Skin – Aesthetic Efficiency


§ Scale coherence at the human scale
§ Aesthetics as metaphor and as expression of the structuring system
§ Maximizing information content of the skin
§ Fractal dimension as a measure of the information field
Temples at Khajuraho
Sagrada Familia – Antonio Gaudi
Barcelona Pavilion – Mies van der Rohe
Pompidou Centre – Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Section 4: Selection of the built organism


§ Synergy – Aesthetic, technical and ecological efficiency
§ Defining the ecological niche
§ Context: Space and time
§ Site analysis
The w ork of Harry Seidler

Conclusion
Bibliography

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


INTRO

Every living organism on


Earth represents a perfectly
functioning system, w ell
adapted to the environment
as a result of millions of
years of evolution. Nature
can serve as both an
inspirational model and as a means to break away from stagnant patterns.
Understanding how natural patterns organize built form can bring out the importance of
biological patterns at different scales and levels of design, and indicate w ays to satisfy
the needs and demands associated w ith human perception and behavior.

This exploration is structured on the idea that Volw ahsen’s living architecture can be, in
fact is, analogical to living organisms. Architecture can serve, in fact, as a metaphor for
life. As a living organism, architectural composition would have to satisfy the follow ing
criteria:
§ it w ould have to be coded by ‘genes’ carrying information
§ those genes would encode structural units that densify and interact to form the entire
organism
§ the organism should present information that enables it to adapt to its environment
and respond to its users in a symbiotic relationship
§ the complexity of the architectural organism can be quantified, by the measure of the
information content presented by the geometry of its structural units
§ increasing complexity in the course of evolution of the built organism must be
modulated by compositional rules that prevent its expression from degenerating into
a chaotic, unreadable composition
§ the built organism therefore must remain poised on the knife edge of chaos for it to
be successful in its ecological niche: too much rigidity leads to stagnation and
uncontrolled flexibility leads to chaos

The thesis project is a distillation of five years of education – an end product. On the
threshold of architectural practice however, can it serve as a springboard towards
developing a design philosophy? The fallout zone of the Concept in the design process
then needs to be defined – does the concept subjugate the design by becoming a
metaphorical representation as literal truth, or does it serve as an axis around w hich the
process can revolve? In effect, the Concept is the concept.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


METHODOLOGY

As an overall design philosophy, the idea of the Dark Tower has great appeal. A
metaphorical construct, the Dark Tower is the lynch pin that encompasses and runs
through all possible w orlds of the multiverse. This opens up the possibility of drawing
analogies betw een the Dark Tower and the shikhara of the Hindu temple as axis mundi.
More importantly, it serves literally as a ‘central idea’ or axis for the design process – the
possibility of condensing the macro-microcosmic continuum into built form. Within this
range of scale, architecture as object has physical significance at the human scale of
perception. The symbolic significance of the design philosophy then ties in w ith a more
physical significance, directed by the design concept. In the case of this project, the
functional requirement of a biotechnological centre naturally lends itself to the idea of
representing the genetic process in architectural vocabulary. The design program can be
further interpreted in such a way that the architectural object as metaphor transcends
itself and becomes an opportunity to crystallize the design philosophy into a design
method. The Scientist as God, manipulating genetic software coding living organisms,
then becomes a pretext for the exploration of the Architect as God, Creating a living
machine. The schizophrenia of architectural constructs that celebrate the creativity of
Man while professing humility before a higher Being can either be rejected outright in
favor of an outright proclamation of man’s (imagined?) supremacy, or taken to a higher
level of resolution and clarity.

A building as living machine would need to display the fulfillment of the following
conditions:
Technical efficiency: Activities that need to be accommodated and the personal
comfort of the occupants – man and machine – of the built form should function w ith
minimal w astage of energy. Economy of means can then serve as inspiration for the
expression of the functioning of the built organism in its skin and skeleton.
Aesthetic efficiency: It has to be ‘beautiful’ as an object to which people can respond
and appreciate – the possibilities of aesthetics as metaphor or as expression of the
structuring of the built form will form an essential component of the exploration.
Ecological efficiency: As a new organism being designed to occupy a particular niche
within the natural and artificial ecosystem of the site, the role of the building in its habitat
needs to be understood.

Flexibility allows the architect to choose the nature and intensity of effect he wishes his
creation to have. There is, after all, only a degree of separation betw een the good doctor
and the mad scientist.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SECTION 1: CREATION

The design concept involves the representation of the process of genetic processes in
architecture. More than metaphorical representation serving as a symbolic gesture that
has no relevance to the physical reality of the building, genetic processes can be used
as a method to understand the construction of built form as that of a living machine. The
first part of this exploration involves understanding the creation of living organisms.

INFORMATION CODING THE BUILT ORGANISM


Genetic material was first created in the ‘primordial soup’ that was the earth’s oceans
three and a half billion years ago. The first life arose from a collection of chemicals
through a progressive series of chemical relationships, which can be explained briefly as:
atoms → inorganic molecules → organic compounds → living matter
The energy for carrying out these reactions was supplied by solar radiation, heat
radiation from the earth, and lightning.

Evolution proceeds as a continuous process of mutation in genetic material, or through


sudden jumps in organizational complexity. These variations occur as a result of different
factors in the course of heredity, w hich may be external or internal. Human beings are
one product of this variation in the original genetic information, in the course of evolution
from the original unicellular organisms. Tracing the family tree of Homo sapiens:
organic compounds → nucleated cells → blue-green algae → specialized organs →
fish → plants → reptiles → mammals and birds → primates → human beings

The DNA molecule is a long double chain of


deoxyribonucleotide units, each unit consisting of
three different molecules: phosphate, deoxyribose
sugar and nitrogenous base. The nitrogenous
base may be a purine, i.e. adenine (A) or guanine
(G); or a pyrimidine, i.e. thymine (T) or cytosine
(C). In each chain, the phosphate component
carried by the carbon atom at position 5 of one
nucleotide unit is joined by a phosphodiester bond to the hydroxyl component of the
carbon atom at position 3 of the sugar in the next nucleotide unit, providing considerable
stiffness to the polynucleotide. These bonds form a long molecular thread of alternating
sugar and phosphate components on the outside of the DNA helix. The nitrogenous
bases are joined to the sugar molecules by glycosidic bonds and project on the inner
side of the DNA double chain. The glycosidic bond develops betw een the first carbon of
the sugar and the nitrogen at position 1 in case of pyrimidine bases and at position 9 in
case of a purine base. The two deoxyribonucleotide chains are held together by

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


hydrogen bonds. Adenine of one chain is alw ays joined to thymine of the other chain by
2 hydrogen bonds. Cytosine of one chain is alw ays linked to guanine of the other chain
by 3 hydrogen bonds. Thus, there are only 4 possible base pairs: A – T, T – A, G – C
and C – G. The phosphate groups provide acidity to the nucleic acid. The structure can
be summarized as a double helix. The DNA molecule comprises tw o long, parallel
strands that are joined together by short crossbars at regular intervals. The two strands
are spirally coiled about each other in a right-handed manner to form a double helix. The
latter is of constant diameter and has a major groove and a minor groove alternately.
The bases face the interior of the double helix, and the sugar and phosphate
components form a backbone on the outside. In other w ords, the DNA molecule has the
form of a tw isted ladder.

Information carried by each strand of DNA codes the entire form of the living organism,
with segments of each strand coding a particular protein, proteins being the structural
units of biological form. These segments are known as genes.

A gene may be defined as the unit of inheritance that is carried from the parent by a
gamete in a chromosome, and it controls the expression (genetic information) of a
character in the offspring in cooperation with its allele, other genes and the environment.

PROTEINS AS STRUCTURAL UNITS


The process of this expression of genetic information as structural protein units can be
briefly described in three steps:
a) Replication: DNA governs its own synthesis. The self-duplication property of DNA is
called replication. The two strands of DNA molecule separate and each strand serves
as a template for the synthesis of a new strand alongside it. The sequence of bases
present in the new strand is complementary to the bases present in the old strands.
A w ill pair with T, T with A, C w ith G and G with C. Thus two daughter molecules from
and identical to the parent molecule. Each daughter DNA molecule consists of one
parent strand and one new strand. Since only one parent strand is conserved in each
daughter molecule, this mode of replication is said to be semi-conservative.

b) Transcription: A particular sequence of nucleotide bases in the DNA strand (A, T, G


and C) is directly copied onto a complementary RNA strand.

c) Translation: The genetic program now transcribed on to the RNA is read in


sequences of three bases (codons), each codon possessing information for one

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


amino acid, which in turn form proteins, which contribute to a morphological
(structural) or a functional trait (phenotype) of the cell and, hence, the organism.
The process is explained in further detail in the appendix.

It can thus be seen that genes contain the codes for synthesis of proteins, which are the
structural units of living organisms. It may be posited here that a building is subject to the
same organizational laws as a living organism, and the process of design of built form is
thus analogous to protein synthesis in living organisms. The ‘proteins’ being synthesized
in the formation of built volume are its structural units, each unit having its ow n geometry.
These proteins display fractal properties.

Fractal structure of alveoli in the lung maximizes surface area for air exchange

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


DNA translation produces fractal proteins that themselves constitute fractal netw orks
within the larger organism, in a system that maximizes surface area within a fixed
volume to facilitate maximum efficiency of the living systems. Might the same structural
pattern work in the built organism to maximize information presentation?

A fractal can be produced by iterating (repeating) a basic function onto an object, w ith
the result that each iteration adds a little area to the inside of the preceding figure, but
the total area remains finite, since the figure produced is bounded by the area of the
original figure. How ever, the length of the figure produced is infinitely long, as can be
evidenced by coastlines which, because of their convoluted shapes, can never be
measured accurately. The end result is that infinite length exists within a finite area, a
seemingly paradoxical result.

Fractal objects share certain characteristics that distinguish them from more traditional
objects defined by Euclidean geometry. These include:
Fractals have the property of self-similarity or statistical self -similarity. That is, upon
magnification of the structure of a fractal, new structure emerges that appears identical
or statistically similar to that of the original structure.
The generating functions or algorithms for fractals are generally simple, but usually lead
to structure that is amazingly complex
The natural language for generating fractals is iteration or recursion.
The dimensionality of fractals is non-integer i.e. they have fractional dimensions

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SELF-SIMILAR STRUCTURING ACROSS THE SCALE HIERARCHY
The self-similarity seen in fractals can be seen as ordering principles of objects, across
their scales of perception. A common feature of all natural forms is the existence of
distinct scales. Material fractures due to stresses and strains create a hierarchy of
discrete scales in solids. Life is the result of complicated chemical and physical
connections occurring at many different scales simultaneously. Metabolic and
mechanical processes characteristic of living forms require a nested hierarchy of
structures. Biological forms exhibit a discrete hierarchy of interconnected scales.

Organisms can be characterized in terms of a multiplicity of intermediate relevant scales


in the various functional systems of the human body: circulatory, respiratory, neural and
locomotory. This hierarchy of structural and functional levels are more or less dense (i.e.,
have a high value of relevance over a continuum of scales) and mutually interact. Both
density and interaction are therefore crucial features in a scalar hierarchy. The
function, meaning, and being of living organisms takes place at the level of molecules as
well as at the level of cells, organs, individuals, social groups or ecosystems, i.e., on
different scales of space as well as time. The growth of most natural organisms is
dependent on density: as soon as the distance betw een two neighboring relevant levels
gets sufficiently large, a new intermediate level emerges. Thus the density of interacting
levels seems to be one of the parameters subject to homeostasis in organisms.

Numbers like the Golden Ratio φ = 1.618 have been w idely used in the past to define the
proportions of rectangular forms. They determine either the overall form or the plan of a
building, both of which are of secondary importance, since we focus more on the
immediate connections to forms and surfaces. Scaling governs the internal subdivisions
of forms. Most natural objects exhibit a hierarchy of scales starting from their largest
dimension, dow n by factors of e = 2.7 to the smallest perceivable differentiation. The use
of e as a scaling factor prevents the rigidity and monotony that are often the
consequences of a modular system.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


INFORMATION FIELD OF THE BUILT ORGANISM
Buildings as objects present information to their observers in what is essentially a
secondary level of interaction. The interaction betw een the building and its users can be
taken to another level by maximizing the information presented by the building in an
accessible manner. Information content therefore has to be modulated by accessibility
of the information. More importantly, how human users respond to that information can
lead to a more interactive relationship betw een man and the machine in what is loosely
termed as the ‘information age’.

Information cannot, however, be designed. What can be designed are the modes of
transfer and the representation of information. Information is an abstraction from any
meaning a message might have and from any particular form a message might take.
Information can be represented as a sequence of bits, or, equivalently, as a sequence of
characters in a text or a string of numbers in base ten (or any other base). These
mechanical rearrangements do not change the information in any w ay. The information
is the same how ever it is represented. The form of information storage or transmittal –
whether digital or analog, binary bits or decimal digits – is irrelevant to the issue of
conveying meaning to people.

Though information is an abstraction that is independent of form the way in which


information is represented is of importance. The representation of the information is the
plastic medium w ith which we work. In spite of technological advances, people's access
to external information has not expanded beyond their optical, auditory, haptic, olfactory,
vestibular, and gustatory senses. Designing the presentation of information partakes of
the nature of both art and science.

Instead of properties of empty space defined by some plan, it is actually the information
field originating in the surrounding surfaces, which permeates the space and connects it
to the human consciousness. Defined by large-scale geometry, empty volumes exist only
in an abstract, mathematical sense. Abstract space has little to do with experienced
space. At the other extreme from a collection of static, non-interacting simple forms and
voids, in reality w e have a complex system tied together by both static and dynamic
interactions. Most important, this system is linked in a non- linear manner to its users.
The presence of observers alters the state of the system by increasing the information
content. Non-linear emergent properties - which create the most memorable features -
arise from the interaction of individual components. Historical spaces were the result of
intuition, traditional rules of thumb, social conditions, and the limitations of available
materials. Historical building exteriors usually present a piecewise concave, fractal
aspect, w hich optimizes visual and acoustical signals that transmit information content.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Information is presented to the observer in different w ays. One such method of
composition is symmetry of form. Architecture, as any compositional art, makes
extensive use of symmetry. Besides the second and third dimensions occupied by the
elevation and formal composition of the building respectively, the non-integral or fractal
dimensions of compositional elements also presents information to the observer, through
similarity symmetry.

Bilateral symmetry is by far the most common form of


symmetry in architecture, and is found in all cultures and
in all epochs. In bilateral symmetry, the halves of a
composition mirror each other.

Translational symmetry falls in the category of space group


symmetry, and is, after bilateral symmetry, the most common
kind of symmetry found in architecture. Translation of elements in
one direction is found in solemn rows of soldier-like columns, or
in the springing succession of arches in an aqueduct.
Cylindrical symmetry is that found in towers and columns. Rare
examples of spherical symmetry may also be found in
architecture, though the sphere is a difficult form for the architect
because human beings move about on a horizontal plane.

Chiral symmetry is perhaps less well


known than other types of symmetry
but frequently effectively used in
architecture. Chiral symmetry is found
in two objects that are each other's
mirror image and which cannot be
superimposed, such as our hands.

Similarity symmetry is an instance of hierarchical


linking of details across scale. Similarity symmetry
is found w here repeated elements change in scale
but retain a similar shape, such as in the layered
roofs on a pagoda, the forms of which diminish in
size but retain their form as they get closer to the
top of the building.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Spiral or helical symmetry may be thought of as a special kind of similarity symmetry.
Helixes and spirals in architecture often represent
continuity. In spiral staircases, the unbroken form
expresses the continuity of space from level to level
throughout the building. In this case, the internal
details across scale contribute to the experience of
a person moving through a built volume, involving a
natural succession through the hierarchy.

Multiple Symmetries in Architecture


Usually, how ever, buildings possess more than
one kind of symmetry. The Chinese pagoda has
both the cylindrical symmetry inherent in the
building's organization about the vertical axis,
and the similarity symmetry of the diminishing
sizes of the layered roofs. A colonnaded temple
facade may demonstrate bilateral symmetry, but
it also demonstrates translation. These examples
of multiple symmetries can be observed w ithout requiring us to change our viewpoint of
the building. We also perceive multiple symmetries w hen we change our position relative
to the building, as for example, w hen we move from outside to inside. Domes are a good
example of this: From the outside, domes appear to be organized about a vertical axis.
When viewed from the inside, however, they appear to be organized about a central
point. The symmetry type that we identify at any given moment, then, is a result of our
physical position in relation to the building.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Presentation of Information in the Horizontal Plane
1. Vertical facets and flutes close to the
ground:
To obtain visual and acoustic information looking
horizontally, a surface must reflect in a variety of
horizontal angles. A structure is subdivided into
vertical facets - thin vertical strips, or flutes - that
offer many different angles of reflection. Non-
reflective surfaces give a maximal signal w hen
they are orthogonal to the viewer. Flat walls and
protruding elements of rectangular cross-section provide only one normal contact point.

2. Amphitheaters
The ancient Greek theatre is the archetypal open-
air concave structure, where the curvature gives a
very precise acoustic and visual focus. Medieval
plazas use concavity to great effect. Contemporary
plazas are invariably rectangular, either too
enclosed or too open - they fail to focus information.

3. Courtyards
Vernacular domestic architecture employs the
open courtyard as the largest living space. Its
boundaries carefully direct information inwards.
The same pattern applies to Medieval Islamic
Madrasas, Caravansaries and Christian Cloisters.

4. Colonnades:
Colonnades gave definition to space in the
ancient world, and continue to do so today in
street arcades. Regularly spaced columns
create a partial enclosure. A colonnade has
many more normal contact points than a
continuous flat wall, and is thus a far more
effective boundary for built space.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


5. Columns and pilasters:
A line of columns in front of it increases the
reflectivity of a plane or convex exterior wall.
These could be either w hole columns in front, or
half-columns in relief on the wall. The former
solution is used in ancient Greek façades, the
latter in European Medieval and Renaissance
architectures.

6. Fluting on columns:
An isolated unfluted column drum presents a
convex surface having a single normal line of
reflection. Fluting the column turns an originally
convex surface into a piecewise concave surface,
thus multiplying the contact points. On a larger
scale, faceted or flanged minarets utilize the same
effect.

Presentation of Information in the Vertical Plane


The preceding examples facilitate information access on a horizontal plane parallel to the
ground. We also have to consider all the vertical angles subtended between eye level
and the total height of a building. In addition to the horizontal solutions, cases are listed
now of visual and acoustical contact w hile a viewer is looking up.
1. Horizontal facets and flutes above eye level:
In order to scatter light and sound downwards towards
an observer, a surface has to reflect in a narrow range of
angles in the vertical plane. Horizontal strips or flutes
should be defined, oriented at a variety of downward
angles. The general pattern leads to architectural
features that present vertical lines around eye level and
horizontal lines above eye level. The historical
architecture of India employs this solution very
effectively. Horizontal articulations w ith strictly
orthogonal corners do not achieve the desired signal.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


2. Roof edges:
With the exception of those in desert climates, buildings
historically had protruding roof edges or cornices.
Without this edge, the connection of an observer to the
building's height is lost. Roof edges define the interface
between the building and the sky, and terminate the
scaling hierarchy at the level desired by the architect.
This termination could connect to the human observer at
a comfortable scale with a range of details progressing
through fractal scales up and/or down the hierarchy.

3. Roof corners:
The roofs on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean temples all
curl up at the corners. Overhanging eaves protruding
towards the viewer are visually ambiguous, and possibly
threatening, whereas corners that point up present
surface information from the underside to an approaching
person. This extends the effective signal to a region
outside the building.

4. Arches:
The stone carved Romanesque doorw ays and entrances to
mosques are concave elements based on the arch. All of them
focus surface information. In our times, the Sydney opera house is
an example of an open arched entrance. Arcades on the street level
serve the same purpose for an approaching pedestrian.

5. Domes and vaults:


From the Pantheon to the Hagia Sophia to the Taj Mahal,
great buildings have recreated indoors the amplitude of
enclosed outdoor space. Those interior spaces offer us
lessons for generating pleasant built form. On a much
smaller scale, covered structures offering protection from
the weather - either attached, or freestanding - generate a
vertical information canopy.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Curvature, fractals, and the multiplicity of observers
The above examples describe the signal received by a single observer. It is necessary to
consider an entirely distinct matter, w hich is the total subtended angle for which each
solution works. This is equivalent to asking how many different observers, standing in
different locations, will receive information from a particular structure. Clearly, the focus
cannot be just onto a single point, because it is likely that other observers will not receive
any signal. Each individual piece need not be concave - indeed, some solutions call for
convex elements - yet the overall concavity requires a large amount of spatial
differentiation on the smaller and intermediate scales. With enough segmentation, any
magnification w ill show different substructures. This is one definition of a fractal. The
stochastic process of building richly complex generates random fractals, detailed
structures to surround urban space. In historical examples, ornament and decoration
subdivide building façades on many different scales: the most effective of these create
fractal geometry. A far-reaching consequence of enhancing the information field through
geometric subdivisions is to endow building façades w ith fractal scaling, from the size of
the buildings all the way down to the microscopic scale in the materials. Spatial
coherence requires internal definition on successively larger scales, going up to the size
of the entire region. A patterned expanse needs to define several distinct scales to
create hierarchical linking. Therefore, while a detailed pattern might connect to the user
at the smallest scale, simply repeating the design indefinitely without using intermediate
scales w ill fail to connect the user to the larger space.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


CASE STUDIES: CREATION
The work of Peter Eisenman – House 11a and the Biocentrum
House 11a and the Biocentrum Project can both be taken as ideal examples of the
creation of the fractal object, demonstrating organizing principles and the metaphorical
representation of the genetic process of protein manufacture respectively.
HOUSE 11A
For Eisenman fractal scaling ‘confronts "presence, origin, and
the aesthetic object" in the context of the site, the building
program, and its means of representation.’ In 1978, House
11a became a central thematic motif in Eisenman's housing
design produced during the Cannaregio design seminar in
Venice. Eisenman used the concept of fractal scaling:
§ discontinuity, confronting the metaphysics of presence
§ recursivity, which confronts origin
§ self-similarity confronting representation and the aesthetic
object

House 11a combines “L” forms in complex rotational and


vertical symmetries. The "L" is actually a square, which has
been divided into four quarters, and then had one quarter
square removed. Eisenman viewed this resulting "L" shape as
symbolizing an "unstable" or "in-between" state – neither a
rectangle nor a square. The three dimensional variation is a
cubic octant removed from a cubic whole, rendering the "L" in
three dimensions. The eroded holes of two primal "L"s collide
in House 11a to produce a deliberately scale-less object that
could be generated at w hatever size was desired. Eisenman
then placed a series of identical objects at various scales
throughout the Cannaregio Town Square. Each of these
objects is a scaling of House 11a, from a man height object to
an object too large to be a house, with the house sized object
paradoxically filled with an infinite series of scaled versions of
itself rendering it unusable for a house. The presence of the
object within the object ‘memorializes’ the original form and
thus its place transcends the role of a model and becomes a
component and moreover a self-similar and self-referential
architectonic component. House 11a is effectively scaled into
itself an infinite number of times forming a kind of fractal
architecture.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


BIOCENTRUM AT FRANKFURT-AM- MAIN
"In the Biocenter project found objects (the existing chemistry buildings) and a scientific
paradigm are convincingly interwoven together, important in a work where the energizing
drive behind the figure is the DNA pattern itself… we encounter a figurative architecture,
-- a new 'speaking' architecture -- whereby through a felicitous exchange, an
architectonic construction is brought to reflect the most profound building system there
is, namely, that of life itself. Moreover through this 'con-fusion' of nature and culture, the
exigencies of science-envy are momentarily sublimated, in a singular w ork that stands
outside representation, except, in so far, as it represents the Faustian triumph of science;
the alarming ability to 'invent' life in perpetuity.”
Kenneth Frampton

The Biocentrum w as designed on the basis of three criteria, as stated by Eisenman:


§ maximum interaction betw een functional areas and the people that use them
§ accommodation of future growth and change
§ maintenance of the site as a green preserve as far as possible
Eisenman therefore abandoned the traditional method of setting spatial hierarchies that
he felt restricted future growth. As an alternative, the Biocentrum explores the possibility
of blurring the distinction between architecture and biology, by representing the genetic
processes as opposed to merely housing them. To this end, the architectural process
mimics the process of protein synthesis as a generator of form. The biological concepts
of DNA process are interpreted architecturally as geometrical processes that then guide
the design process. In addition, the similarity betw een fractal geometry and the geometry
of DNA processes has been used to justify the usage of fractal geometry as an
alternative to Classical Euclidean geometry. Besides the physical translation of the
genetic process into architectural form, aesthetic articulation also involves metaphorical
representation of the bases of DNA by using the colors that denote them as a method of
decorating surfaces.

The Biocentrum Project is important as it begins to hint at how the link between biology
and architecture can be celebrated in built form. As an architectural artifact, how ever, it
suffers from an incoherent presentation of the information that generates it, as is often
the case with Deconstructivist architecture. The original intention of leaving the site as a
green preserve has, through lack of resolution or the overpowering of the design process
by the design concept, led to its literal translation into colliding forms that sit uneasily in a
green void. Superimposing the genetic process on the design process is a bold move,
but the efficacy of the resultant space has to be questioned.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SECTION 2: BODY – FUNCTIONAL EFFICIENCY

Post-discussion of the creation of the architectural object vis-à-vis the information that it
is coded by and encodes through detailing across scales how does the Creation
function? Once the compositional technique and the generating philosophy have been
identified, the next phase of the exploration entails identifying a set of functional targets
that need to be set for the architectural machine. The architectural body of the building
as machine can be deconstructed into the follow ing functional components:
§ The building as a machine that can run more efficiently (the building and the climate
installation are one).
§ The building as a system that can be organized more efficiently as an open system in
interaction with its environment.
§ The building as a container of activities of w hich the logistics can be improved.

THE GREEN MACHINE: SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE


In Architecture there are many ways a building may be "green" and respond to the
growing environmental problems of our planet. This can be done while still maintaining
efficiency, beauty, layouts and cost effectiveness. There are five basic areas of an
environmentally oriented design –

1. Building Ecology
Many of the products and systems used to build may be toxic: they may emit unhealthy
gases and substances into the air for years after construction. This can be greatly
diminished if, during the design process, adjustments and substitutions are made in the
materials used. Additionally, HVAC systems can be designed to provide maximum levels
of fresh air and minimum levels of mildew and mold build up.

2. Energy Efficiency
By employing proven solar technologies and solar heating methods, thermal massing
and insulation systems, energy can potentially be returned to the local pow er utility
during even the hottest or coldest days. Energy use detectors and reflectivity can be
used effectively and lighting and electrical fixture selection can dramatically reduce
conventional electric use.

3. Materials
Some materials are "harder" on the Earth's environment than others. Some w ood
species come from destructive forestry practices. Some materials require extensive
processing and produce toxic waste. Others may be from renew able sources and
relatively safe to produce. Building ecologically takes these regional and global factors

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


into consideration, while balancing these considerations with the use of the fractal
properties of materials to achieve the desired functional and aesthetic solution.

4. Building Form
The form of a building can respond to adjacent landform, vegetation and climate
patterns. Incorporated into a design may be recycling facilities, layouts accommodating
new more cooperative lifestyles, reduced flow water fixtures, and indoor planting areas.

5. Good Design
Good Design is the consideration for what we are leaving those that will follow us.
Buildings w ith longevity, ease of use, reuse, and beauty, will require less energy, less
repair and more value in the future. Thoughtful design, attention to details, and use of
quality materials and building systems w ill be much easier to sustain in the future than
the mass produced, cheap and designed to fail components we frequently encounter.

Concepts of Sustainability
The major steps in a sustainable approach to site planning and design are as follows:
§ Model the ecosystem to establish an environmental understanding
§ Assess social-economic context
§ Establish acceptable limits of change
§ Design facility w ithin social and environmental thresholds
§ Monitor site factors throughout construction
§ Reevaluate design solutions betw een development phases

Improving energy efficiency


1. Siting and Design
2. Shade
3. Ventilation
4. Earth Shelter
5. Thermal Inertia
6. Air Lock Entrance
7. Scale and Insulation
8. On site water collection and waste disposal
9. Solar w ater heating panels
10. Photovoltaic electricity
11. Recycling and use of local materials
12. On site grow th of food, fuel and building materials

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


More evolved design strategies can use of natural systems as a source of information:
§ Shade and evaporation of w ater are two important techniques adopted by organisms
§ Many insects only breathe in and never breathe out, so conserving w ater. They lose
their expiratory gases (carbon dioxide) by diffusion through the skin.
§ Flying insects produce large amounts of heat in their flight muscles, but cannot afford
to lose much w ater, so their blood becomes the equivalent of radiator fluid and the
insect loses heat generated in the thorax by radiation from the abdomen.
§ A swarm of bees changes its behavior as the temperature increases. At low
temperatures the insects huddle and present a solid shell to the world. At an external
temperature of 30°C the sw arm seems to grow in size due to the incorporation of
airways through the middle, which allow cooler air to convect some of the heat aw ay.
Bees sit at the front entrance of the hive, which is alw ays at a low position, and fan
their wings so that air is driven through. Water brought into the hive by the foraging
bees (some of it in gathered honey) evaporates and the nest retains its temperature
of 30° to 35°C. Any undesired holes in the outside of the nest are blocked w ith a
waxy material called propolis. This glues everything together and controls the airflow.
§ A number of caterpillars produce silken tents in which they shelter overnight. This
enables them to keep a higher body temperature so that they are able to feed faster
and earlier in the day.
§ Wasps make paper (carton) nests whose multiple layers provide very effective
insulation allowing the nest to be built in shaded areas where they won't get direct
sunlight and overheat. During the summer the nest is cooled by forced evaporation

Modern organic architecture looked at how organism worked: at systems, not at their
shapes. It was fascinated by velocity, self-sustained processes, internal functioning -
metabolism in a word. Bionic architecture itself was not about miming the complete plant
or animal body, but rather about why is it working so well. “Organicism” in the latter
discourse was not a celebration of the Body as a whole, but of the way it worked as a
Mechanism - the ultimate metaphor of Modern architecture.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


AESTHETICS AND THE MACHINE

The engineer, inspired by the law of economy and led by mathematical calculation, puts
us in accord w ith the laws of the universe. He achieves harmony. The architect, by his
arrangement of forms, achieves an order which is a pure creation of his spirit . . . it is
then that we experience beauty.
Le Corbusier

The notion of functional art, most actively promoted by German writers and termed by
them Z weckkunst, is most appropriately related to architectural theory under three
headings, namely (1) the idea that no building is beautiful unless it properly fulfills its
function, (2) the idea that if a building fulfills its function it is ipso facto beautiful, and (3)
the idea that, since form relates to function, all artifacts, including buildings, are a
species of industrial, or applied, art (known in German as Kunstgewerbe).

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


‘ARCHITECTURE OF SCREENS’: INTERACTIVE SKINS

The need for representing or presenting information has already been discussed with
regard to the factors that can be made to influence the creation of the building. The
functional translation of this goal into architectural elements can now be looked at, with
the understanding that the ‘aesthetic’ component of these elements will be studied in the
larger context in the next chapter.

‘What is the architecture of and for the information revolution / age / society? Is it
possible to honestly maintain a material and traditional understanding of architecture in a
world increasingly dominated by disembodied, electronic information? Can w e approach
architecture from an informational paradigm?’

The screen is a plane used to generate complete architectural orders – a simple element
that can generate complex forms. Information can be presented through self-similar
detailing across scale as discussed, and one element w ithin the scale hierarchy is the
architectural plane, used to great effect by Mies van der Rohe. The plane can serve as a
screen delivering and sensing pulses of information w hile retaining its original function as
an element of architectural order.

§ “Walls need to be considered as opaque windows to other worlds, displaying


electronic productions such as artwork, cinema, daily news, environmental scenes,
video games, virtual w orlds, etc. Although the wall may still retain its traditional
architectural properties of bearing loads and opacity, its most important function
would be now to offer representations of other real or unreal places, events, etc.” In
the case of this project, the dominating ‘view ’ would be that of the ideological axis of
the Dark Tower, rising from its field of roses and ‘crying out in the voice of the beast.’

§ “Walls need to be considered as planes under continuous superficial metamorphosis.


If screens mutate their appearance, character, role, etc. by displaying different
'programming' (e.g., textures, light shades, shapes, materials, colors, etc.), they
would be able to change the architectural quality of the w all. Considering that walls
are the backgrounds against w hich space and activity unfold, implementing this
concept w ould significantly affect the function and experience of architecture.”

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Cyberizing the architectural artifact means nothing less than animating matter, turning it
into a reacting organism that responds to and reflects the world of information and
media. An architecture of screens may be designed so that it also w orks as a regulatory
skin between internal and external environments. This would allow us to move from a
view of buildings as mechanic, non-living systems to a view of buildings as smart, 'living'
systems. In such a case, we move closer towards the stated goal of integrating
aesthetic, technical and ecological efficiency in a synergy that encompasses the artificial
and natural environments.

‘In turn, this will invite a refocusing of architectural work so that it brings together the
material and the informational, the tectonic and the abstract, the real and the virtual,
hence permitting the happy marriage betw een the two major forces that promise to
occupy the minds of architects well into the next century: information and ecology.’

Possible avenues of exploration: The wall as ‘screen’


Large flat surfaces such as walls, floors, tables, or w indows are mainly passive and,
where appropriate, are used to display decorative items such as paintings, photographs,
and rugs. Although different projects and products centered on the theme of “home
automation” have inspired various interactive displays, these are usually small or
moderate-sized discrete devices, such as touch screens embedded into w alls or tables.
It is still unusual to see large portions of the w alls, floors, or windows themselves used
directly as interactive interfaces, except perhaps in niche applications such as those
used for teleconferencing. Other interactive “smart room” approaches look at sensing full
three-dimensional spaces, for example with computer vision techniques, and avoid
concentrating expressly on the often more deliberate and precise interactions that can be
expressed at the surface itself. New technologies, however, will enable such
architectural surfaces to become sensate, following trends and concepts in “smart skins”
that have redefined structural control and aerospace research over the last decade.

The first is a low -cost scanning laser rangefinder adapted to accurately track the position
of bare hands in a plane just above a large projection display. The second is an acoustic
system that detects the position of taps on a large, continuous surface (such as a table,
wall, or window) by measuring the differential time-of-arrival of the acoustic shock
impulse at several discrete locations. The third is a sensate carpet that uses a grid of
piezoelectric wire to measure the dynamic location and pressure of footfalls. The fourth
is a sw ept radio frequency (RF) tag reader that measures the height, approximate
location, and other properties (orientation or a control variable like pressure) of objects
containing passive, magnetically coupled resonant tags, and updates the continuous
parameters of all tagged objects at 30 Hz.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


CASE STUDIES: FUNCTIONAL EFFICIENCY AND AESTHETIC ARTICULATION
The work of Louis Kahn

THE KIMBELL ART MUSEUM


Louis Kahn's client asked for a museum w ith a human scale and galleries with natural
light. The importance of this project for the purpose of this study is the w ay in which
functional efficiency is achieved without compromising on Kahn’s goal of shaping space
through the unification of light and structure.

A simple composition of parallel concrete vaults, the Kimbell


Art Museum reveals itself to the visitor before stepping
inside the building, with the porticoes that are a continuation
of the building's vaulting. The “unnecessary porches” define
the structural vocabulary of the whole museum: basically a
concrete beam in the shape of a cycloidal vault, supported
by foursquare columns. This simple structure is used, as
was the case in most of Kahn’s buildings, to create an
abstract order, a genesis for creating more complex space.
The gallery spaces are not confined by the individual vaults
but flow from one to another; the low "servant" spaces
between vaults helping to define human-scale rooms.

The creation of space on the interior through light is


achieved through a freeing of roof space. Light diffusers
spread natural light from a narrow slot to the sky along the
undersides of the concrete vault. Casting an even glow
throughout the museum the diffusers shield the Kimbell's
work from the strong Texas sunlight. Kahn intended the light
to serve as an indicator of the time of day but the even glow
does not help to relate to exterior circumstances so much as
three courtyards that Kahn created by slicing the vaults.

Through a simple articulation of the structure, the building


achieves a subtle aesthetic quality that does not detract
from its functioning. Instead, the clarity of the expression of served and servant spaces,
while not carried forward to its resolution in Kahn’s Richards Medical Research Building,
add to an aesthetic expression devoid of superficial ornamentation. Through an economy
of means, the Kimbell Art Museum succeeds in understatement, unlike the drama of
Wright’s Guggenheim Museum that perhaps overpowers its occupants – visitors and art.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


THE SALK RESEARCH INSTITUTE
The concept Kahn used separated the functional
components of the institute into three parts: the
Laboratory, the Meeting Place and the Living
Place. The design takes full advantage of the site
atmosphere by opening up a broad plaza
between the research and lab wings providing a
view of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline. The
laboratories are separated from the study areas,
and each study has a view of the Pacific w ith
light pouring in. This allow s scientists to take a
break from their experiments and clear their
minds with a breath-taking view. As Kahn stated,
he "separated the studies from the laboratory
and placed them over the gardens. Now one
need not spend all the time in the laboratories".
The two lab wings are symmetrical about a small
stream that runs through the middle of the
courtyard and feeds into the ocean, a small
gesture that adds character to the courtyard.

Materials used include wood, concrete, marble,


water, and glass used in stark simplicity.
Concrete, being ‘the stone of modern man’ was
left w ith exposed joints and formw ork markings.
Weathered wood and glass combined with the
concrete to construct the outside surface. Inside,
Kahn integrated mechanical and electrical
services, hidden in a service floor under each
laboratory to free the laboratory space.
Interlocking volumes are present throughout the
structure, all the way down to the furniture
details. The servant and served spaces in the
Salk Institute create a consistent order, which is
evident throughout the design. The laboratories
act as the served spaces, while the servant spaces are represented by the studies. All of
the ideas are initiated in the studies or offices, and the research is carried out in the labs.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


RICHARDS MEDICAL RESEARCH BUILDING
Kahn’s design is outstanding for its expression of the
distinction betw een "servant" and "served" spaces. The
servant spaces (stairw ells, elevators, exhaust and intake
vents, and pipes) are isolated in four towers, distinct from
the served spaces (laboratories and offices). Laboratory
buildings had been designed this w ay for decades: Kahn
elevated this practical feature into an architectural
principle. The idea of building as machine is articulated in
a coherent manner, w ith the vertical shafts containing the
services forming an integral part of both the structure and
its expression in built form. The building was designed
with the clear understanding that ‘science laboratories are
studios and that the air to breathe should be away from
the air to throw away’. The service towers are attached to
the stacks of studios, and include animal quarters, mains
to carry water, gas and vacuum lines and ducts. Kahn
explicitly drew the metaphor of the building as an
organism when he compared the ducts as channels for air
breathed in from 'nostrils' placed low in the building. The
air is then ‘exhaled’ out through stacks high above the
roof.

Besides the obvious functional innovations Kahn made,


several elements of Kahn's architecture came together in
this building: a clear articulation of servant and served
spaces, light, the integration of spatial, structural, and
utility elements and, above all, “the integration of form,
material, and process.”

As Kahn said, "a building is like a human, an architect has


the opportunity of creating life. The w ay the knuckles and
joints come together make each hand interesting and
beautiful. In a building these details should not be put in a
mitten and hidden. Space is architectural w hen the
evidence of how it is made is seen and comprehended."

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SECTION 3: SKIN – AESTHETIC EFFICIENCY

Trying to define beauty can be an exasperating, even seemingly pointless exercise.


Dissecting the concept of beauty can be akin to dissembling a watch – without the
overall structure function ceases. Self-organizing systems? The exploration therefore
involves understanding tw o possible ‘applications’ of aesthetics – as metaphor and as
expression of the built system, and the possibility of integrating the tw o in the
architectural body. As stated previously, information presented by the body can
represent the generating philosophy as well as the internal functioning of the building.
Information overload, however, can lead to a chaotic assemblage that cannot be
comprehended by the observer. Organizing this information through all scales of the
built form, both through ornamentation and articulation of the structure, requires certain
rules to be laid down.

SCALE COHERENCE AT THE HUMAN SCALE


A mathematical rule helps to achieve visual coherence by linking the small scale to the
large scale. Two separate processes achieve scaling coherence:
(a) A discrete hierarchy of different scales follow ing from physics and biology and
(b) Connections between the components of the scalar hierarchy - forms are related on
each individual scale, and linking forms on the small scale to forms on the large
scale creates an overall coherence.

The scaling hierarchy establishes the proper subdivisions, and the relationship betw een
the different scales in a building. To achieve coherence, how ever, it is necessary to go
further and link the distinct scales together via similarity techniques. The follow ing list
summarizes how to connect the different levels of scale to each other:
ü Define recognizable units through contrast in color and geometry at all scales in the
hierarchy.
ü Tie different units together through symmetry, overlapping designs, a common grid,
complementary shapes, and matching colors.
ü Every unit needs a boundary that is itself a unit on the next-smallest scale - units
should couple sequentially w ith adjoining units.
ü Units of different size can link w ith one another by having a similar shape, so the
same pattern repeats at different magnifications.
ü Similar patterns of decreasing size can be nested to define a geometrical focus, and
this should coincide w ith a functional focus. Contrast is necessary because it
establishes the different scales that we connect to.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Rule 1: The w hole idea of coherence is to harmonize components, which requires all the
components of a design to be clearly articulated.
Rule 2: emphasizes the need for multiple symmetry in architecture. The scaling
hierarchy guarantees that symmetries can be defined independently on each level of
scale. A building w ith scaling coherence has an enormous number of internal
symmetries: there is one overall unit of scale, and an increasing number of units
populating each scale of decreasing size; symmetry can act on all of these units.
Rule 3: achieves coherence by tying the different scales together through contact.
Successive forms in the hierarchy are paired geometrically. It is the smooth progression
of scales that leads to coherence.
Rules 4 & 5: establish a necessary link between structure and function that is all too
often ignored in contemporary buildings.

Scaling coherence defines an infinite number of decreasing levels of scale in any design.
For practical purposes, however, a low-end cut off for the minimum detail is imposed.
Taking this low er limit to be (1/4) in = 6mm provides a useful rule for estimating the total
number of different levels of scale. If x 0 is the smallest size of a design sub-unit
(corresponding to n = 0), and X = en-1x0 is the largest overall size, then we can solve for
the number n of distinct scales. Rounding off to the nearest integer value, n is computed
as follows (Salingaros, 1995):
N = 1 + lnX - lnx 0
Obviously, X and x 0 need to be expressed in the same units. For example, if w e are
going to measure the overall dimension X in meters, then choosing x 0 = (1/4) in =
6.4X10-3 m gives the total number of different scales as approximately: N = 6 + lnX (m)

A building of height or width X meters therefore needs to have distinct sub-units of n


different sizes in order to appear coherent. Even when it has the required number of
scales, the relative sizes have to correspond to the scaling hierarchy. The degree of
coherence depends on the similarities and boundaries of all the different scales. If a
building has either significantly fewer levels of scale, or significantly more, it will appear
incoherent.

The preceding text lays down rules that can aid the design process.

Rules are made to be broken.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


AESTHETICS AS METAPHOR AND AS EXPRESSION OF THE STRUCTURING
SYSTEM
‘Glass (...) w as, quite clearly, the ideal “skin” (...) the purpose was to produce maximum
invisibility for the w all and maximum visibility for the structural skeleton of the building.’
Peter Blake (1977:72)

From the Greek 'aisthesis', aesthetics is broadly defined as pertaining to material things
perceptible by the senses, and is more precisely defined by Baumgarten in Aesthetica
(1750), as 'phenomenal perfection' perceived through the senses. Thereafter in general
usage, there remains an emphasis on subjective sense perception, but with particular
reference to aesthetics and beauty generally associated with the broad field of art and
human creativity. Aesthetic theory has tended to collapse experience into w hat is
perceived through the five senses, whilst privileging sight and hearing over touch and
taste, leaving smell 'at the bottom of the heap'. Subsequently there has been a
recognition that this separation of sensual experience is inadequate and that a more
systematic approach is called for that recognizes the body as a whole as an integrated
system.

The poet sometimes comments on his ow n work, which he compares to a car well built
by a deft craftsman. Vedic aesthetic consisted essentially in the appreciation of skill. The
purpose of the imager w as neither self-expression nor the realization of beauty. To him
the theme was all in all, and if there is beauty in his work, this did not arise from aesthetic
intention, but from a state of mind w hich found unconscious expression. The Shilpan
(artificer) piously acquiring knowledge of various sciences, such a one is indeed a
craftsman.

Aesthetic emotion – rasa – is said to result in the spectator – rasika – though it is not
effectively caused, through the operation of determinants (vibhava), consequents
(anubhava), moods (bhava) and involuntary emotions (sattvabhava). Extended
development of a transient emotion tends to the absence of rasa. Pretty art that
emphasizes passing feelings and personal emotion is neither beautiful nor true. A w ork
of art may and often does afford us at the same time pleasure in a sensuous or moral
way, but this sort of pleasure is derived directly from its material qualities, or the ethical
peculiarity of its theme, and not from its aesthetic qualities: the aesthetic experience is
independent of this and may even be derived in spite of sensuous or moral displeasure.
Religion and art are names for one and the same experience – an intuition of reality and
of identity.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


"It [the Crystal Palace] has not a sufficient amount of decoration about its parts to take it
entirely out of the category of first-class engineering and to make it entirely an object of
fine art."
James Fergusson
"A bicycle shed is a building; Lincoln Cathedral is a piece of architecture . . . the term
architecture applies only to buildings designed w ith a view to aesthetic appeal."
Nikolaus Pevsner
Whatever the justification for such assertions, it must nevertheless be recognized that
neither of these authors suggests that aesthetic appeal or art are synonyms for
superfluity. It is thus as misleading to imply (as Fergusson implied) that architecture is
civil engineering plus ornament as it is to imply (as Le Corbusier did) that the status of
the two professions is to be distinguished by the relative superiority of beauty over
harmony.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


MAXIMIZING INFORMATION CONTENT OF THE SKIN
Emphasis laid on a purely visual experience of architecture has led to a reduction in the
information field generated by architectural composition. Glass is used either as a mirror,
or as a transparent “skin” whose primary function is not to protect, but to unveil, even
expose the structural skeleton.

Fractals define a scaling hierarchy that is complex at every level. The special case of
"self-similar fractals" has the additional property that structure revealed at each level of
magnification is related by scaling. That is, the substructures when magnified by the
appropriate factor are all similar to each other. Self-similar fractals are mathematically
simple; since their structure is repeated at different magnifications to create the w hole,
they require only one basic algorithm (design) to generate.

A fractal connects several different levels of scale. There is one basic design in a self-
similar fractal that is repeated at different magnifications, and this links all the scales
together: they interact. In a statistically self-similar fractal some structural property is
similar at each scale, thereby linking the different levels of scale. Whether established
via similarity of form on each scale, or through some other common qualities such as
texture or symmetries, this scale-connectivity property of fractals creates a hierarchical
linking. Hierarchical linking attaches forms and textures to geometry, and so to an
observer. It is impossible to link forms hierarchically if they are empty, since in that case
the absence of substructure leaves too few sub-scales to link together. The concept of
self-similarity is closely tied to "metapatterning" – the w ay large patterns are composed
of smaller patterns, w hich are composed of smaller patterns, etc. The way pattern
emerges in a fractal is also dependent on specification. The specifying limits of a fractal
can be thought of as its genetic code or DNA – the code specifies the growth and
reproduction, i.e. scaling, of the fractal in self-similar patterns.

The information field of the built organism can be maximized through detailing across the
scale hierarchy. When the building skin clearly articulates the internal processes and the
information that generates it in a coherent manner – both as metaphorical ornament and
as structural expression – then the creation can be said to be aesthetically efficient.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


FRACTAL DIMENSION AS A MEASURE OF THE INFORMATION FIELD
The measures of information previously mentioned – i.e. content and accessibility - can
be further elaborated upon in an architectural context. The perception of architectural
forms can be divided into two aspects, as above:
(i) The information content depends on the design, geometry of forms, and their
subdivisions, insofar as design organizes elements in particular ways.
(ii) Information access is governed by the orientation of surfaces, their differentiation
on the smallest scale, and the microstructure in the materials.

These independent factors generate the information field, w hich distinguishes between
empty forms on the one hand and two opposites – organized or disorganized complexity
– on the other. Complex ordered patterns have a large information content, which is
tightly organized and therefore coherent. Chaotic forms, however, have too much
internally uncoordinated information, so that they overload the mind's capacity to process
information. Random information is incoherent: by failing to correlate, it cannot be
encoded. These extreme conditions can be observed in some examples of Modernist
and Deconstructivist architecture respectively.

The materials used in building façades play a crucial role in


creating the spatial information field. High-tech materials are a
necessary component of any new architecture, but they minimize
surface information if used thoughtlessly. We have to start using
materials, both old and new , with the aim of enhancing surface
information. Historical buildings employ traditional materials in a
way that maximizes optical and acoustical information at all
angles: an incident signal is dispersed in all directions so that
many observers can receive it.

Textured surfaces with articulated relief reflect signals in different


directions. Relief, surface texture, and sculpted decoration reflect
sound and light all around (non-specular reflection), w hereas
pigments absorb an incident ray, then re-radiate the energy in all
directions (scattering). Relief patterns throughout traditional
architecture distribute sound and light, making a wall partially
reflective at an oblique angle. Smooth polished walls reflect only
at a single normal (orthogonal) angle to their surface. There is no
optical contact above eye level.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Building exteriors in dark colors minimize information access,
independently of any surface relief. Bare concrete is usually a
matte medium gray, w ith poor reflective and light scattering
properties. Large panes of plate glass create informational
ambiguity: the visual signal indicates a surface, but there is no
information. Depending on the angle, dark tinted windows are
too transparent, too reflective, or too absorptive to define a
spatial boundary. The only way to reinforce the visual signal is
to use a structural frame between windowpanes.

There have been attempts made to measure information content in biological organisms
using bits as quantifiable units. The Shannon and Weaver system of using the bit as a
measure of information does not allow for the semantics of information, its context or its
meaning. However, the ‘bit count’ does provide for crude measure, for example the bit
count for humans has been calculated as 1012 bits. The Human Genome Project (HGP)
carries this thesis of quantifiability of genetic information further, by attempting to
determine the function and structure of all the genetic information possessed by the
average human. In effect, it is an attempt to create an inventory of the order of nucleotide
bases A, T, G and C.

Fractals have non-integral dimensions and the higher the fractal dimension, the more
complex are the fractals that can be generated. Fractal dimension can be calculated
using the Box Counting Method:
The box-counting method is an algorithm based on the self-similarity dimension. It is
commonly used to analyze both self-similar and scale invariant images. Consider putting
the fractal on a sheet of graph paper, where the side of each box is size h. Instead of
finding the exact size of the fractal we count the number of boxes that are not empty. Let
this number be N. Making the boxes smaller gives you more detail, w hich is the same as
increasing the magnification. In fact, the magnification, e, is equal to 1/h. The formula for
fractal dimension is D = log N / log e. With this method we can change it to:
D = log N / log (1/h)
Making h smaller w ill make the dimension more accurate. For 3- D objects cubes are
used and for 1-D objects line segments.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


CASE STUDIES: AESTHETIC EFFICIENCY
TEMPLES AT KHAJURAHO
Results
TEMPLE FDfr FDs FDp FDAV PC
Chaturbhuja - - - 1.567
Jagadambi Devi - - - 1.560
Lakshman 1.684 1.710 1.750 1.714
Viswanath 1.694 1.755 1.773 1.740

Kandariya 1.731 1.780 1.776 1.762

FDfr = Fractal Dimension of the front elevation


FDs = Fractal Dimension of the side elevation
FDp = Fractal Dimension of the perspective view
PC = Period of construction

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SAGRADA FAMILIA AND THE BARCELONA PAVILION
The monumental church El Temple Expiatori de la
Sagrada Familia (Expiatory Temple of the Sacred
Family) is Gaudi’s most famous w ork, the finest example
of his visionary genius, and a w orldwide symbol of
Barcelona. The architect undertook the task in 1883 on
the site of a previous neo-Gothic project begun in 1882
by F. del Villar. Gaudi dedicated his life, in his later
years to the exclusion of all else, to carrying out this
ambitious undertaking that due to his sudden death was
left unfinished.

BARCELONA PAVILION – MIES VAN DER ROHE


Mies's famous words were 'Less is more'. There is a
timelessness associated with his work that transcends
modern architecture - past the ‘glass boxes’ that he
designed with scrupulous attention to detail (he also said,
'God is in the detail'), with which lesser architects
eventually filled our cities. His style speaks of a stripping,
a simplicity that will surely always stand as design
aesthetic.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


POMPIDOU CENTRE – RICHARD ROGERS AND RENZO PIANO
The Pompidou Centre takes the articulation of the
aesthetics of the machine in an intriguing way. To fee
internal space for efficient functioning of the building, all
the services are placed outside. In effect, the
architectural body possesses an exoskeleton, ass
compared w ith the endoskeletons seen in buildings
previously discussed. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers
created a building that does not try to hide its
construction but exposes its technology and its
supporting skeleton to the observer. The skin of the
building – plate glass – is protected by the exoskeleton.
Here the minimal information presented by the glass
skin is more than compensated by the building skeleton
that celebrates the complexity of the machine. The
services are given articulated coherence through brightly
colored exterior pipes, ducts, and other exposed
services that are color coded to represent the function
each serves. Each part of the building is displaced from
its system/structure and loudly displayed towards the
exterior, to be widely visible. Every single function is
expressed in a separated exterior shape/volume. By
letting the parts free, the internal mechanism of the
architectural body, w ith the vital systems sustaining it
are articulated boldly: circulation/transportation, water
pipes and electricity wires in the city, structural elements
and their correspondents in the building.

Thus the building equipment becomes the real visual


facade. One disadvantage of such an aesthetic
expression is that the building becomes a literal
metaphor interpreting the link betw een architecture and
industrial technology. The expression of the internal
functioning of activities users pursue finds no articulation
outside, w ith internal flexibility compromising spatial
quality.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SECTION 4: SELECTION OF THE BUILT ORGANISM
‘Building environmentally conscious requires the architect to think about the relation
between the building and the ecological and climatological system within which the
building functions. In a wider sense the architect must take a standpoint on the relation
between nature and culture. We have to search for a meaningful symbiosis.’
Jacques Vink and Piet Vollaard

SYNERGY – AESTHETIC, TECHNICAL AND ECOLOGICAL EFFICIENCY


The facade is determined by the functions that it must fulfil: ventilation, lighting, cooling
and heating. The w hole building can be interpreted as a system, with input and output.
The weather conditions outside the building and the energy that is created by the
activities in the building can be utilized for optimizing the inner climate. The facade is
then a filter between inside and outside that actively regulates instead of passively
protects. Buildings should be able to get energy from their direct environment, interacting
with the outside climate and the users as an open system.

Aesthetic translation of the structure and the metaphor the built form represents is
important. When these properties are allied w ith interactive materials such that the
building responds to its environment, a potent synergy is arrived at. Built form displays
statistical self-similarity in different ways: the end result is to achieve scale coherence.
The desired result can be summarized as follows:
§ The building skin clearly articulates the functioning of activities and the service
systems.
§ The skin becomes a membrane between the controlled internal environment and the
‘hostile’ external environment, responding to changing conditions.
§ The skin then possesses beauty by virtue of its functioning as an element interacting
with microclimate and users of the niche.
§ The entire building system is developed on the basis of achieving an aesthetic that
celebrates the detail as ornament occurring at all levels of the design system. The
building system itself functions as both a metaphor of the design process as
expression of the genetic process and a macro-microcosmic continuum symbolized
by the Dark Tower, and as delight in pure architectural form. Therein lies the
possibility of true beauty.
§ The question of an Indian identity for the machine is explored through achieving a
distillation of the logic of the Indian aesthetic experience.
§ The building skin, its skeleton and life systems expressed in a unitary composition
that acknowledges its environment while demonstrating a consciousness or self-
identity can achieve a state of synergy.
The work of Harry Seidler achieves, in part at least, this synergy.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


CASE STUDY: THE WORK OF HARRY SEIDLER
The design philosophy of Harry Seidler is based on a ‘consequential methodology of
approach, w hich brings into unison considerations of social use, technology and
aesthetic expression.’ The early minimalist approach follow ed by him gradually gave way
to a more detailed aesthetic expression using advanced technology. The underlying
design aim, how ever, remained ‘to achieve the most, practically and aesthetically, with
the least possible means’. His w ork demonstrates a totally integrated work of art, with
interior design, furnishings, equipment and selected artw orks receiving equally dedicated
attention to become a cohesive whole, a philosophy Seidler termed “gesamtkunstwerk“.
Aesthetics and energy efficiency form a consistent design aim. Long span, column-free
flexible interiors that integrate mechanical services within the depth of structural floors
form a recurrent system in his larger projects. The aim of aesthetic and physical
longevity predominates, an aesthetic that rejects w hat he called “heritage stylisms”.
Seidler quoted Walter Gropius’ view about the much-maligned term International Style
that, to him, the only structures that could truly be labeled international in style w ere
"those classic colonnades, borrowed from the Greeks, placed in front of important
buildings anywhere from Chicago to Moscow to Tokyo".

In terms of aesthetic articulation, Seidler was very much in favor of a minimalist


expression. His design philosophy is one that puts paid to Venturi’s clever turn of phrase
that ‘less is a bore’. As Seidler states, ‘to do the minimal only leads to dullness,
stagnation and rejection, but to do little in such a w ay that riches result, visually and
tangibly – that is w here our direction lies! Ponderous, earthbound, pyramidal
compositions standing flatfootedly, exposing their childish broken pediment "metaphors"
in order to make us feel closer to "history", ignoring and defying all constructional, let
alone structural logic, are the tantrums of a rich spoilt child delighting in being contrary
and shocking us with corny stylistic idioms, not to say ludicrous bad taste.’

Seidler’s approach to naturalism was one of defiance, as opposed to abject surrender to


the natural forces confronting him. According to the noted architectural theorist Paul-Alan
Johnson, Seidler achieved a symbiosis between the natural forces and the systemics of
building that belies his statement of nature as a hostile environment in w hich the building
sits. Perhaps this very recognition of nature as an opponent makes for dynamic
architecture that acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses that it must overcome or
encompass to its own advantage. Symbiosis or parasitism? ‘By placing natural qualities
at the heart of his architecture, Seidler is paying homage to the pow er and force of
nature but daring them to beat him, all the while saying ‘I am in command here.’” That is,
perhaps, not such a bad w ay of going about design.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


BERMAN HOUSE
Built in virgin countryside near the top of a deep valley
with a w inding river below, the house is placed against a
rock cliff with a suspended living area and projecting
balcony overlooking the dramatic natural setting.
Following the rocky plateau, the plan is arranged on two
levels w ith the glazed pavilion of the living area below the
upper bedroom wing. Utilizing the site's ample sandstone
boulders, support and projecting screen walls anchor the
house into the rugged terrain. A dam w all between two
rock cliffs creates a deep natural swimming pool with an
ample water supply in the case of bushfires. The house is
built entirely of fireproof materials.

HANNES HOUSE
The w aterfront site faces a branch of Sydney Harbor
toward the North. Although narrow, it enjoys a tranquil
setting with a view across moored yachts toward a public
reserve and golf course on the opposite shore. The living
areas of the house are arranged on three floors. Due to
the slope of the ground, the garage, entrance and main
living room are on the centre floor, the dining/family room
and kitchen below, and all bedrooms above. A part-
basement service floor contains a w hirlpool and sauna, all
connected with the outdoor pool terrace. The three stories
of the house are joined spatially by an open void that
allows views up and down from every level with drama
added by the freestanding, circular, glass elevator. Built

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


over the steep drop to the water's edge, the swimming
pool is reached from the family/dining area and has
below it, covered space for a boat.

HARRY AND PENELOPE SEIDLER HOUSE


Although this house is located in an established suburb
it is secluded in a steep valley adjacent to a natural bush
reserve which assures privacy. Outlook is onto
unspoiled nature and a creek running along the bottom
of the site, which turns into a gushing waterfall during
rainy periods. The garage is at the top, directly off the
street, cantilevered over a rock ledge. Approach to the
house is across an entry bridge which leads into the
topmost of four half levels which follow the slope of the
land down. The top level accommodates kitchen, dining
and library. The second level the living space and main
bedroom, the third the children's rooms and playroom
level with the garden and the bottom a studio, utility and
guest suite. The visual aim of the design is to extend the
horizontal freedom of space vertically by opening the
various levels into each other and creating a two-and-a-
half storey high open shaft between them.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


MELLER HOUSE
The long side of this steeply sloping rocky site faces
Northeast tow ard Sydney Harbor. The 160 m2 house
maximizes this outlook by exposing every room's glass
wall and terrace to the view and arranging them in three
longitudinally split-level floors connected by ramps. The
resulting horizontal spaciousness is amplified by the
vertical openness that penetrates all levels. The opposing
roof slopes impart a dynamic quality to the building's
profile that expresses the different floor levels.
Construction is of cavity brick w alls and steel beams
supporting timber floors. The upper floor is cantilevered
over a huge rock boulder that remains untouched.

ROSE HOUSE
This is the second of a group of houses Seidler built
after his arrival in Australia in 1948.
The minimal structural steel frame stands on 4 columns
10 m x 8 m apart from which diagonal hangers give
support to the raised floor 20 m x 8 m w hich projects 5 m
at each end. The in-line arrangement faces all rooms to
the northern view, shaded by a continuous terrace. The
structural frame is exposed both inside and out.
Contrasting w ith the rectilinear building form are the
diagonal lines of the suspension members which find
their counterpoint in the expressed slope of both exterior
stairs; solid on the 'void' north side and projecting on the
more solid south side.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


TRADE GROUP OFFICES
Built along one side of Canberra's "Parliamentary
triangle", this complex of government offices is designed
to house separate but related Federal Trade
departments w ith a working population of 3000 people.
The different departments required separate entry-
identities and easy communication betw een their offices.
The requirement for universally flexible office space
resulted in a system of 16 m wide connected 5 storey
wings joined by circular vertical access cores, creating
two open courtyards between them. Uses not readily
accommodated in the column-free office wings are
housed in separate freestanding buildings placed in the
landscaped courtyards (theatre, cafeteria, etc). A
systematized repetitive structural- constructional scheme
dominates the architectural concept; only three precast
prestressed elements construct the office floors; a 26 m
long facade beam (with recessed continuous windows
between them); a 16 m span 1.5 m wide "floor plank"
and a 1.5 m long column element, erected by means of
moving crane gantries. The prestressing anchorages are visible on the exterior by their
stainless steel caps.

ROSE SEIDLER HOUSE


The first house to be completed by Seidler was for his
parents. The ample site and a desire for maximum
interior spatial interplay resulted in a hollowed out
square plan exposed on all sides but opening the living
space and sheltered terrace to the preferred northern
orientation and valley view. Living and sleeping areas
are separate, joined by a central family room, which can
be joined w ith the alcove-type bedrooms or made part of
the living space by a dividing curtain. The rectangular
mass of the building is hollowed by the open central
terrace and the adjacent two storey high well piercing
the building vertically, allow ing light to penetrate into the
otherw ise dark centre. From the rectangular structure 'tentacles' reach out and anchor it
into the surrounding land, the stone retaining walls, the ramp leading to the garden (and
future pool) and the louver fence shielding the drying yard.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


DEFINING THE ECOLOGICAL NICHE
Ecological efficiency then involves a number of variables – at the local level of the site
the living machine is designed to respond to neighboring architectural morphology, site
climate and features, people and their behavior patterns, so that the building has a
controlled impact. At a larger level, it will exist in an Indian context, with all the attendant
peculiarities of pride and disillusion that that phrase might evoke. How does one develop
an Indian image for w hat is a western dominated science? And, can the acceptance of
this challenging task lead to an architectural Creation that one can take pride in, as an
Indian and Creator?

To attain an ideal – as opposed to real – perfection in architecture, the context must


influence the design process.

CONTEXT: DEFINING SPACE AND TIME

‘White light, and then –a blade of grass. One single blade of grass that filled everything.
And I was tiny. Infinitesimal. The greatest mystery the Universe offers is not life but Size.
Size encompasses life, and the Tower encompasses Size.’1

‘We live in a world of vastly varying social and economic climates. What is possible and
in fact desirable in one country w ith ample, willing and undemanding labour but poor
technology is unthinkable in a location w ith advanced industrial potential and high labour
costs. Such considerations w ill inevitably produce regional differences in buildings even
if the common aim is to create a subtle orchestration of spatial intricacies.’ 2

‘The heart and essence of the Indian experience is to be found in a constant intuition of
the unity of all life, and the instinctive and ineradicable conviction that the recognition of
this unity is the highest good and the uttermost freedom… Though the details of our
plans may change, and the contours of our building, we may learn from India to build on
the foundations of the religion of Eternity.’ 3

‘The atoms themselves are composed of nuclei and revolving protons and electrons.
One may step down further to subatomic particles. And then to w hat? Tachyons?
Nothing? Of course not. Everything in the universe denies nothing.’ 4

What is religion? Belief.


Science is a religion.

1. Stephen King 2. Harry Seidler 3. Anand Coomarasw amy 4. Stephen King

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


CONCLUSION

As stated, the end result of the exploration would be a built fabric or skin that faithfully
expresses the internal skeleton of the building, achieves maximal aesthetic, functional
and ecological efficiency, and presents and represents information generating it and
coded by it. While pursuing an analogy betw een buildings and organisms is difficult, as
until now buildings have been closed systems that do not interact with their environment,
a higher level of interaction can overcome this problem to a certain extent. More
importantly, the architectural object as a metaphorical construct can give way or be
assimilated by pure architecture.

‘We now seek a sense of the infinite and yet simultaneously the intimate - a sense of the
beyond in the immediacy of the present.’ Fractal processes and designs can provide the
basis for connecting ideas, memories, architecture, and formal elements. Whether they
exhibit the austere simplicity of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion or the raw
exuberance of Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, buildings can either touch a chord or
strike a nerve, depending on how they present information to us. An economy of visual
means can be organized to create architectural assemblage where the design concept
resonates at all scales. The built organism can incorporate the technical and aesthetic
efficiency of natural organisms, while adapting to external conditions such as regional
context, the design brief, and the personal idiosyncrasies of the architect himself.
Detailing across scale can result in great architecture: living machines that people can
respond to and that themselves respond to people in a symbiotic relationship that is
mutually beneficial. Lessons learnt from our past in the context of modern science can
be used or subverted to create the perfect living machine. As Mies van der Rohe said,
God is in the details.

Ten Principles
1. The Place: "Respect the land"
2. Hierarchy: "Architecture is like a language"
3. Scale: "Buildings must relate first of all to human proportions"
4. Harmony: "The playing together of the parts"
5. Enclosure: "An elementary idea with a thousand variants"
6. Materials: "Let where it is be what it's made of"
7. Decoration: "A bare outline won't do; give us the details"
8. Art: "Art should always be an organic and integral part of all great new buildings"
9. Signs and Lights: "Don't make rude signs in public places"
10. Community: "Let the people who will have to live with what you build help guide your
hand"

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


SITE ANALYSIS: DEFINING PLACE
The following sheets constitute an analysis of the site and its context:
1. City level location map
2. Campus map
3. Site plan
4. Existing building expression
5. Topographical features of the site
6. Slope analysis
7. Surface drainage
8. Climatic data
9. Existing flora and fauna
‘The city is a granite garden, composed of many smaller gardens, set in a garden world.
Nature in the city is far more than trees and gardens – it is the air we breathe, the earth
we stand on, the water we drink and excrete, and the organisms with which we share our
habitat. It is a broad flash of exposed rock strata on a hillside, the overgrown outcrops of
an abandoned quarry. It is rain and the rushing sound of underground rivers buried in
storm sew ers. It is water from a faucet, delivered from pipes from some outlying river or
reservoir, then used and washed away into the sewers, returned to the waters of river
and sea. Nature in the city is an evening breeze, a corkscrew eddy swirling dow n the
face of a building, the sun and the sky. Nature in the city is dogs and cats, rats in the
basement, pigeons on the sidewalks, raccoons in culverts, and falcons crouched on
skyscrapers.‘

At the larger level of the city, the building as a living machine has to have its ecological
niche identified. A few minutes from the traffic sink that is Dhaula Kuan is the site on
which the Biotechnology Centre is to be designed. The quiet Delhi University South
campus with its peripheral road network contrasts starkly with the traffic that passes by
at a fair clip just outside, on the Benito Juarez Marg. Defining a place for an institution
then needs to consider that the requirements for an atmosphere for research – that
exists already on site – needs to be balanced by the need to attract visitors from outside
the hallow ed precincts of academia. The opposing characteristics beg the formation of a
couple – a distillation of the forces of physics in a biological institute using pure
architectural forms: a celebration of the levels of interdisciplinary correspondence that
should be the norm rather than an aberration. The physical body of architecture then
radiates a sphere of influence over the city that operates in conjunction w ith an implosive
habitat. That habitat and the levels of influence the built body may have need to be
understood.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


CITY LEVEL LOCATION MAP

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


1. Site
2. Life science building
3. Computer science building
4. Director’s office
5. Student’s centre
6. Auditorium
7. Electronic science building
8. Arts faculty
9. Arts faculty
10. Jain Management Centre
11. Financial management centre
12. Benito Juarez Marg
13. Site access road
14. Cul-de-sac
15. Campus parking
16. Campus entrance

CAMPUS MAP

View down cul-de-sac


To the north of the site is the
life science building, with the
computer science building at
the end of the road. The
‘controlled’ nature of the
maintained lawns on the left
contrast with the wild sprawl
existing on the site. In the
design for a facility that is essentially about ordering the processes of nature and bringing them
under man’s control, the opportunity to explore a more inclusive relationship between man and
nature presents itself…naturally.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


The Life Science Building immediately opposite the site uses primary Euclidean forms to bold
effect. Emphasis of the horizontal and vertical lines through shading devices performs the dual
role of protecting the internal spaces from the heat of the Delhi sun and providing a distinct
identity to the building. Materials are used in their
‘natural’ state, nature here referring to the Modernist
idea that honesty in building expression results from
letting materials ‘be what they want to be’. Horizontal
lines in the building façade are articulated through
exposed concrete bands. Vertical articulation arises
through the use of piers that are faced with dressed
stone. Large, blank walls are given character through
the use of random rubble as a fascia. The building form
is primarily a long rectangle broken down into more
accessible scales through the use of horizontal and
vertical sub-divisions, with its linearity punctuated by
octagonal forms to emphasize access points into the
building. By virtue of its location and expression, the
Life Science Building has a strong presence and
therefore will have an influence on the design of the
proposed Biotechnology Centre.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


The Life science Building and the adjacent Computer
Science Building display certain characteristics that
can be encapsulated as follows:
The use of materials in their ‘natural’ state – exposed
concrete, random rubble and dressed stone
A bold use of pure geometrical forms
A clear articulation of the structure on the façade:
horizontal and vertical lines of the structure are
extruded beyond the fascia to provide shade and
compartmentalize the elevation mass into rhythmic
bays
The lawns fronting the Life Science Building are well
maintained, and contrast starkly with the site opposite
it, which is densely overgrown. This raises the
possibility of incorporating existing ‘wildness’ into the
design as a counterpoint or as an inclusive whole in a
building ‘couple’ – two opposite forces acting together.

The diagram below further elaborates on the creation of a dynamic couple:

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


The Delhi University South Campus lies on the offshoots of the northern part of the Aravalli hills
locally known as the Delhi Ridge in southern Delhi, at an average altitude of 213-219 meters
above sea level. The vegetation is primarily tropical thorn forest. More than 50% of this land is
covered with vegetation with no major permanent water bodies. The land is therefore dependent
on the monsoon rains for its water supply. Quartzite rocks form the base of the campus. The soil
cover on the lower areas is formed of weathered material. Tropical thorn forest is spread over this
soil cover under semi-arid climatic conditions.
§ Dense vegetation area, seen in the lower parts of the Campus which consists of thick base of
soil cover holding fast growing and drought resistant perennial species;
§ Woodland like area i.e. the areas covered by widely spaced trees, or other vegetation and
§ Scrubland that covers more than fifty percent of the total Campus area. It includes perennial
drought resistant varieties of shrubs and bushes.

The quarries that form the edge of the site to the east are approximately 2.5m deep. In a design
program that involves the study of nature in a human controlled environment, the design can
subvert the concept of man as a separate entity controlling nature. Instead, the design process
then involves encompassing the natural features of the site in solid-void interfaces with the
building so that the functioning of the building machine is carried out in tandem with the natural
forces on the site. This objective can be made with the qualification that the impact that the
building will obviously have on the ecosystem is modulated to achieve the most efficient
interaction. Efficiency here refers to the fact that influences of the environment – building couple
on each other are tempered by the understanding that functional efficiency will not suffer. To this
end, interactive skins between inside and outside will form an essential component of an
architecture that blurs the distinction between the two, to the level that the built form overturns the
program of scientists studying nature. Instead, the scientist learns in nature, and the natural

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


features on site present an excellent opportunity to carry out an experiment of environment –
building ‘auto-cannibalism’. The distinction between ‘internal working environment’ and ‘external
habitat’ then loses its clarity.

The delineation between internal and external environments and its ‘fuzziness’ involves redefining
the wall as plane in favor of the wall as screen. The screen is a plane used to generate complete
architectural orders – a simple element that can generate complex forms. Information can be
presented through self-similar detailing across scale as discussed, and one element within the
scale hierarchy is the architectural plane, used to great effect by Mies van der Rohe. The plane
can serve as a screen delivering and sensing pulses of information while retaining its original
function as an element of architectural order.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


An analysis of the existing conditions on site and the design program leads to the development of
the following conceptual intents and parameters:
§ The building skin clearly articulates the
functioning of activities and the service systems.
§ The skin becomes a membrane between the
controlled internal environment and the ‘hostile’
external environment, responding to changing
conditions.
§ The skin then possesses beauty by virtue of its
functioning as an element interacting with
microclimate and users of the niche.
§ The requirements of the design program for
scientists to ‘observe’ nature and manipulate it in
a controlled internal environment is distorted by
the design solution involving using existing site
conditions
§ For instance, the visitors’ centre can become an
active integration of the building environment-
natural environment. In such a case, the quarries
on the site could become nodes where the
membrane separating inside and outside reality is
at its thinnest. Here there is no museum
displaying nature and no greenhouse serving as a
repository for alien plant forms – the visitor will be
inside nature
§ The entire building system is developed on the
basis of achieving an aesthetic that celebrates the
detail as ornament occurring at all levels of the
design system. The building system itself
functions as both a metaphor of the design
process as expression of the genetic process and
a macro-microcosmic continuum symbolized by
the Dark Tower, and as delight in pure
architectural form. Therein lies the possibility of
true beauty.
§ The question of an Indian identity for the machine
is explored through achieving a distillation of the
logic of the Indian aesthetic experience.
§ The building skin, its skeleton and life systems
expressed in a unitary composition that
acknowledges its environment while
demonstrating a consciousness or self-identity
can achieve a state of synergy.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


§ The climate analysis in conjunction with the stated intents provides more than rudimentary
data according to which the ‘right moves’ are made. The built skin should respond to
changing energy conditions and not be a fixed response to an idealized climatic state.
§ Existing paths and circulation movements if retained offer the possibility of maintaining
continuity for the present users while forming a spatial and temporal thread that runs through
the design.
§ ‘Paths’ of exploration include linking the students’ centre to the site using existing circulation,
using existing parking at the foot of the hill and creating pedestrian axis that can pass through
the quarry greenhouses as an introductory experience to the development
§ Opening out views towards the open quarry and emphasizing linkages with the director’s
office, the life science building, the auditorium and the computer science building at the micro-
level, and with the city as a whole through functional and formal gestures

Cyberizing the architectural artifact means nothing less than animating


matter, turning it into a reacting organism that responds to and reflects
the world of information and media. Architecture of screens may be
designed so that it also works as a regulatory skin between internal and
external environments. This would allow us to move from a view of
buildings as mechanic, non-living systems to a view of buildings as
smart, 'living' systems. In such a case, we move closer towards the
stated goal of integrating aesthetic, technical and ecological efficiency
in a synergy that encompasse s the artificial and natural environments.

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


THE SITE AND FORCES OF INFLUENCE: AN INITIAL PLAN OF ACTION

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Monthly average temperature

Minimum Maximum

45
40.4
39
40
36 35.5
33.9 34 34
35
30.5
30 28.5 28.4
Temperature (deg C)

27
26 25.8
25 24 24
23
21.4
20
20 18.5

14.5
15
11
9.5
10 8
6.3

0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Month

Monthly rainfall

200

180

160

140

120
Rainfall (mm)

100
180
173
80

60 117

40
74

20
23 18 13 8 13 10 10
0 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Monthly rainfall 23 18 13 8 13 74 180 173 117 10 3 10
Month

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


Monthly average Relative Humidity

90

80
80
75
72
68 69
70 67

61
59
60
56
53 53
51
49
50
RH (%)

42
40 38 39
35 35 36
32
30
25
23
20
19
16

10

0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
RH (am) 68 67 49 35 39 53 75 80 72 56 53 69
RH (pm) 38 35 23 19 16 36 59 61 51 32 25 42
Month

RH (am) RH (pm)

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. The Shape of Space Graham Nierlich


2. Space is the machine Bill Hillier
3. The Architect’s Eye Tom Porter
4. Architectural Morphology J.P. Steadman
5. Does God Play Dice Ian Stewart
6. Superforce Paul Davies
7. Origins Rediscovered Richard Leakey
8. The Sleepwalkers Arthur Koestler
9. The Architecture of the Jumping Universe Charles Jencks
10. The Blind Watchmaker Richard Daw kins
11. Nature in Question J.J. Clarke
12. A New Model of the Universe P.D. Ouspensky
13. Chaos James Gleick
14. About Time Paul Davies
15. The Evolution of Information Susantha Goonatilake
16. Imagenation: Popular Images of Genetics Jose Van Dijck
17. Ecology and the fractal Mind Victor Padron and Nikos
A. Salingaros
18. Chaos, Fractals and Self-Organization Arvind Kumar
19. A Text Book of Biology P.S. Dhami
20. Nature’ s Numbers Ian Stewart
21. Cybertrends David Brown
22. The Theory Of Architecture Paul-Alan Johnson
23. Architecture in the 20th Century Udo Kultermann
24. Fractal Expressionism Richard Taylor, Adam
Micolich and David Jonas
(Physics World Vol.12 No. 10
October 1999)
25. The Hindu Temple Stella Kramrisch
26. Patterns of Transformation Adam Hardy
27. Concept of Space IGNCA Publication
28. Architecture, Time and Eternity Adrian Snodgrass
29. Living Architecture Andreas Volwahsen
30. Form, Transformation and Meaning Adam Hardy
31. The Hindu Temple: Axis of Access Michael W. Meister
32. Architecture of the World: India Andreas Volwahsen

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009


33. Indian Architecture (Buddhist and Hindu) Percy Brown
34. The Legacy of Khajuraho A.G. Krishna Menon
35. Dissertation Geetanjali Chordia
36. Dissertation Harsha Vishw akarma
37. Dissertation Rishi Dev
38. Hindu Temples: Models of a Fractal Universe Kirti Trivedi
The Visual Computer (1989)5
39. Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
40. The Lost World Michael Crichton
41. Timeline Michael Crichton
42. The Dark Tower I : The Gunslinger Stephen King
43. The Dark Tow er II: The Drawing of the Three Stephen King
44. The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands Stephen King
45. The Dark Tow er IV: Wizard and Glass Stephen King
46. Queen of the Damned Anne Rice
47. Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Bill Watterson
Goons
48. Interrogating Modern Indian Architecture A.G. Krishna Menon
(Architecture + Design
Vol. XVII No.6 November-
December 2000)
49. Bionic Vertical Space Javier Pioz, Rosa Cervera
and Eloy Celaya
(Architecture + Design
Vol. XVII No.5 September –
October 2000)
50. Time Magazine Special: The Age of Discovery

Copyright Demis Roussos Bhargava 2009