Understanding Complexity Through Pattern Languages in Biological and Man-made Architectures
journal article

In 1944, the celebrated physicist, Erwin Schrodinger, famously asked, “What is Life?” Neither Schrodinger nor generations of illustrious scientists after him have been able to satisfactorily answer this question. What is generally agreed upon, however, is that being alive is about being complex: forming, transforming, and maintaining a structural organization that consists of multiple constituents arranged in specific orders and patterns. The advances in the theory of complexity have come not just from biologists, but also from architects and urban theorists. In this essay, I discuss how theorists from both life and architectonic sciences have come to a similar conclusion: that patterned and organized form ensures proper function and, ultimately, life. I show how deviation from this principle in biology leads to cancer and death; in architecture, the deviation allows the takeover of mechanical and imagery-based building ideologies leading to dysfunctional and ‘lifeless’ building and public spaces.

Keywords: pattern formation; polarity; multiscalarity; cancer; architecture.

Bhat, Ramray. "Understanding Complexity Through Pattern Languages in Biological and Man-made Architectures." Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 8, issue 2 (2014): 8-19.
Parent Publications
Ramray Bhat