Sciences of the complexity: A common logic with the architecture | axonometrica

Screenplay, de Oyler Wu | Photography: Dwayne Oyler |

Apart from the origin or the cultural common substratum, the sciences of the complexity share certain common features with the architecture that arises in the decade of the 60s and that we can follow even today, that reinforce precisely this both cultural and social base. Briefly we might say that the sciences of the complexity and the theoretical reflections and the architectural practices, they share an origin and a way. Following the stela of the School of Brussels led by Ilya Prigogine it seems to be pertinent to construct a mapificación of the common thing between both disciplines.

That one that it agglutinates to the sciences of the complexity, which structures a common logic and constitutes a cultural substratum on which the paradigm of the complexity is founded, I could conclude in a series points:

1. The disentailment of certain paradigms of the classic science.

While the science as he had understood himself up to this moment there was favouring the search of the order, of the determinism, the regularity, the stability and predictability of the nature, that is to say a certain solid behavior of the body of knowledge, the sciences of the complexity have a rather liquid behavior: they look for the non-linearity, the indetermination, the disorder and the irreversibility.

The aspiration of the classic science, in parallel to that one that was looking for the modern movement, was to discover the immutable thing, the permanent thing, that one that comes out of the seemingly changeable thing. Therefore the universal laws of the classic dynamics were conservative, reversible and deterministic. The definition of a condition of the system and the knowledge of the law that governs the evolution of the above mentioned system, were allowing to deduce, with the certainty and the precision of a logical reasoning, the totality, so much his past as of his future. All this model of thought is what enters crisis, the whole idealization of the world that frames the scientific knowledge begins a process of disentailment, puts in question and a condition of opinion is structured increasingly opposed to this vision, as there arise the advances that point at the opposite direction.

2. The irreversibility and the non-linearity like definition of the common of the reality.

The time like some kind of mutable and with aptitude to make mutate it is the most evident, common characteristic to the sciences of the complexity. Even more summarized, it is possible to say that the vector interferes time of the science – as like the vector gets time in architecture-.

In a deterministic world, the world of tomorrow is contained in the today world. The passage of time is purely instrumental. With the thermodynamic one, the challenge arises to the classic physics; the second law does a clear difference between the reversible and irreversible processes, which introduce the time and the history in the center of the scientific considerations.

“In this end of century, we are increasingly those that we estimate that the fundamental laws are irreversible and random, whereas the deterministic and reversible laws, of which we do not discuss his existence, are not applied any more than to situations limit: exemplary processes in the sense in which they it are the stories simplified that we sense beforehand to the children before confronting them with royal problems”.1

The vector time like something intrinsic of the reality and therefore as engine of transformation that the new science gathers, is contradicted by the incomplete comprehension that the classic physics does of the universe and

“the price that was paid for her was to design a timeless kingdom divorced from the experience it humanizes”.2 

3. The evolutionary logic in the science.

The sciences of the complexity in his set look in the irreversible processes for another different key to understand the nature, understanding the world as an entity filled with life that is capable of evolving and innovating, a life which behavior can be considered to be neither predictable nor controllable. For Prigogine, the laws of the nature are not all given from the beginning but they evolve as the life does it on the land. As the behavior of the nature becomes more complex bifurcations, amplifications, fluctuations appear and emerge new laws. According to Prigogine

“the roots of the biological thing sink in the matter a long before what one could have imagined”.3 

The evolutionary logic is established this way from the active paper of the irreversibility, the creation of an order by fluctuations, the historicity, and the paper of the past introduced by the order of the succession of the bifurcations that they lead to a structure. The above mentioned might be said without changing a comma of the fact proyectual architectural contemporary.

4. The self-organization like common behavior.

In 1977 Ilya Prigogine it received the Nobel Prize on Chemistry thanks to the discovery of the structures disipativas, these phenomena originate spontaneous coherent behaviors. It discovered that at the molecular level in the systems removed from the balance, they emerge new orders and therefore phenomena of structure arise with a high level of cooperation. It is a question definitively of a type of organization very extended in the nature, that they present periodic behaviors in the time and spontaneous breaks of the spatial homogeneity. The matter in balance is insensitive to certain changes, nevertheless the matter that is far from the balance detects the minuscule differences, which are essential for the construction of a highly coherent system. To these systems they certain autonomy is recognized and an autoorganized behavior assumes to them. Equally the study of other systems has corroborated that exists a high degree of self-organization of his constituent ones, this behavior that in the classic science could be detected like eventful or purely capricious. What the self-organization tells us is that there exist models of order complex who alone seemingly can seem to us desestructurados and report.

5. A new theoretical body.

The managing concept like instability, sensibility to the initial conditions, bifurcations, fluctuations, turbulences, systems removed from the balance, self-organization, etc., it forces to handle equally a new theoretical body. As the happened in the architecture, the science has been opened for the whole complex network of beginning, theories and mental new structures that allow to advance and to innovate in a new mental territory. From the 60s the disciplines that fluctuate about the sciences have started a fascinating way, I do not exempt of risks and stumbles, towards a deep comprehension of the nature.

6. The tematización of the time like fundamental category.

“The spectacular development of the physics of non-balance, of the dynamic unstable systems, associated with the idea of chaos, they force us to check the notion of time that was formulated from Galilean. After three centuries, the physics has returned to find the topic of the multiplicity of the times. The today physics does not deny the time; it is more, admits the irreversible time of the evolutions towards the balance, the time bifurcante of the evolutions for instability and up to the microscopic time that demonstrates the indetermination of the physical and microscopic evolutions”.4

The forced evolution of the sciences as well as also of the architecture from the 60s it might be summarized in the introduction of the vector time not as subsidiary element of reflection, but as principal axis of rotation about which to think, to think, to theorize. The time has developed a fertile area of reflection and has entered fullly resonance so much with the scientific disciplines, since with the architectural ones.

7. The end of the certainties.

One of the consequences of the application of the vector time in the sciences is the thunderous precipice of the certainty, of the truth supported in the time, of the projection of a real future from the knowledge of the present reality. The innovation, the choice, the spontaneous activity were only appearances relative to the human point of view and by his subjective condition they were immediately rejected or reduced. Nevertheless, today it is known that the ways of the nature cannot be foreseen by certainty: the accidental part is irreducible. Small differences, insignificant fluctuations, can invade the whole system and generate a new regime of functioning, a catastrophe. The prediction that we can do of the future is a mixture of determinism and probabilities.

“The future is uncertain, more uncertain still of what there was making presage the quantum traditional mechanics with her relations of Heisenberg’s uncertainty”.5

This way of looking at the nature is a real recognition of his creative possibilities and a field opened for the autoconstruction of the identity, already it is the scientific, architectural or personal identity.

If there are no certainties, there is no an infallible guide who takes me of the hand towards that one that it is necessary to be and that one that it is necessary to do. We are in constant process of choice and reinvention and the company of beginning of the 60 was conscious of the precipice of the certainties and for the first time I place the logic of the subject over the logic of the object.

8. A Open Source science.

The sciences of the complexity have liberated the scientist of a closed rationality. These are opened now for the unforeseen thing, for the dialog by a nature that cannot be dominated by a theoretical look, but only explored. The unexpected thing carries a double attitude, The vigilance and the capacity of surprise. At any time, in the reading more seemingly bland it can jump an idea, a reflection of value, a mental construction. Obviously this spark must be treated by means of a necessarily demanding, hard and sometimes frustrating process. Slightly very similar it happens in the architecture.

If we do not support an attitude of vigilance on the details and do not exercise our aptitude to be surprised, the opportunities can happen ahead from our minds without noticing it. According to Prigogine,

“the human, creative and innovative activity, it is not foreign to the nature. It is possible to consider her to be an extension and intensification of already present features in the physical world, which the discovery of the processes removed from the balance has taught us to decipher”.6

An opened mentality is today a need. A model opened of learning is today a guarantee of possibility. The model who offers us the nature – that we are also we same-, is a model where there is no another final logic that the open session fed by external sources and retroalimentado for internal processes, opened to that at any time any resource between in scene and it contributes a jump of value to our ideas. Far from the rigor of the classic scientist, the sciences of the complexity have turned the scientist into a creative agent of the first order, capable of handling a science of opened code.

9. A complex geometry for a complex science.

Science and Geometry always have gone of the hand. The scientific models have been accompanied of geometric models in a constant and fruitful dialog. From the antiquity, in the algebra, illustrious geometers were developing an analytical device of considerable dimensions. Thales de Mileto was capable of predicting the eclipses. To Samos’s Pythagoras there assumes to him the discovery of the incommensurability of the hypotenuse of a triangle rectangle. New elements appear inside the Geometry, with the irrational numbers capable of representing her by means of relations of not exact division of segments of the same straight line. The Geometry prospers with elements that we neither can measure, perhaps we cannot imagine only, but that they are of ubiquitous form in the objects and geometric relations. Already we know as Matila Ghyka it investigates the number of gold and the golden section and as certain geometries they seem to describe the behavior of the nature.

With the appearance of the sciences of the complexity, the geometry has given a new jump ahead. Far from representing the reality by means of idealized forms, the complex geometry is structured from the idea of the behavior. Fractalidad, folds, atractores strangers, bifurcations, etc., the complex this geometry least annotated to a model or to an idealization but in turn it is freer in his temporarily definite solutions.

In essence the underlying geometry in the sciences of the complexity is an alive, opened geometry, as D’Arcy Thompson was feeling, evolutionary and as Robert le Ricolais was investigating, banker. The geometry faces this way the logic of the time understanding that there is no a definite geometry forever but it is necessary to face to a geometry in constant process of transformation. Hereby that one that is critical for the complex geometry is not the definition of his contours, but the customization of his behavior and the concretion of his algorithms. The complex geometry today is a programmed reality that activates not a concrete form, but the behavior of the above mentioned form throughout the time. As a genetic code rules the forms in potential terms and the way ends up by outlining them up to turning into form the city and his architecture, the complex geometry is debated between the potential thing and the kinetic thing, between the ideal thing and it fix quotas.

En esencia la geometría subyacente en las ciencias de la complejidad es una geometría viva, abierta, al igual que D’Arcy Thompson intuyera, evolutiva y al igual que Robert le Ricolais investigara, cambiante. La geometría se enfrenta así a la lógica del tiempo entendiendo que no hay una geometría definida para siempre sino que hay que enfrentarse a una geometría en constante proceso de transformación. De esta manera aquello que es crítico para la geometría compleja no es la definición de sus contornos, sino la parametrización de su comportamiento y la concreción de sus algoritmos. La geometría compleja hoy es una realidad programada que activa no una forma concreta, sino el comportamiento de dicha forma a lo largo del tiempo. Al igual que un código genético pauta las formas en términos potenciales y el medio las acaba perfilando hasta convertirlas en forma la ciudad y su arquitectura, la geometría compleja se debate entre lo potencial y lo cinético, entre lo ideal y lo contingente.

The complex geometry assumes what Jose Ballesteros affirms in Being Artificial on having referred to the form::

“Not only the matter is vague, for his delimitings destined for the assumption of the probability and his inconstant characteristics, but the alterations of the matter also it are”.7

Finger to change matter into form and form into geometry, in an intimately tied sequence and we obtain a resumidísima definition of an own behavior of the complex geometry.

Definitively, more that to speak about geometry, the most own thing would be to speak about genetics of the form, as Manuel Gausa defines this concept in the Metápolis Dictionary of Advanced Architecture:

“the assumption of an elastic systematizing – topológica – of the form-léase geometry-, in certain processes of opened generation, announces what is named a new genetics of the form based on the programming of dynamic fluctuating systems in dynamic fields of forces in turn, destined to evolve – simulated, orientated, induced and materialized – from spatial processes developed in the time”.8 

The parallelisms between the reflections of the architects from the decade of the 60 and the beginning or common logics between the different areas of the science united under the umbrella of the sciences of the complexity are evident.

The idea of an opened theory, – Eisenman and Prigogine-, the value of the context as substratum of a future behavior,-Venturi and theories like Lovelock’s Hiposis Gaia – the process idea more that of result, – Jacobs, Venturi, Eisenman and all the theories of the sciences of the complexity-, the graph arises from new conceptual tools – and later the computer and as not, the cibernetistas-, etc., they mold a rich and fertile cultural common substratum between the architecture that assumes the complex condition and the sciences of the complexity, an alliance of fruitful results that starts in the times convulsed with the decade of the 60.

Miquel Lacasta. PhD architect
Barcelona, december 2012

1 PRIGOGINE, Ilya, The time and to develop. Cerisy’s colloquium, Gedisa, Barcelona 1996

2 RIERA, Elba del Carmen, The complexity: Considerations Epistemológicas and Philosophical, presentation of the philosopher accepted in the  Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, celebrated in Boston, Massachusetts from August 10 to August 15, 1998

3 op. cit., PRIGOGINE, The time and to develop, 1996, p. 174

4 op. cit., RIERA,1998, p. 5

5 op. cit., PRIGOGINE, The time and to develop, 1996, p. 95

6 PRIGOGINE, Ilya, The end of the certainties, Andrés Bello, Santiago de Chile, 1996

7 BALLESTEROS, José, Being Artificial. Practical glossary to see everything otherwise. Arquia/thesis Collection number.28, Caja de Arquitectos Fundation, Barcelona 2008, p.189

8 GAUSA, Manuel, In Metápolis Dictionary of Advanced Architecture, Actar, Barcelona 2002, p.250

Es cofundador en ARCHIKUBIK y también en @kubik – espacio multidisciplinario. Obtuvo un Ph.D. con honores (cum laude) en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC y también fue galardonado con el premio especial Ph.D (UIC 2012), M.arch en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, y se graduó como arquitecto en ETSAB Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya . Miquel es profesor asociado en ESARQ desde 1996. Anteriormente, fue profesor en Elisava y Escola LAI, y también en programas de postgrado en ETSAB y La Salle. Fue arquitecto en la oficina de Manuel Brullet desde 1989 desde 1995.


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