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Article

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Presented at the Theoretical Currents II Conference: Architecture and its Geographical Horizons, University of Lincoln, UK, 2012

Abstract

In the essay “Landscapes of Change: Boccioni’s Stati d’animo as a General Theory of Models,” in Assemblage 19, 1992, Sanford Kwinter proposed a number of theoretical models which could be applied to computer-generated forms in Bioconstructivism. These included topological theory, epigenesis, the epigenetic landscape, morphogenesis, catastrophe and catastrophe theory. Topological theory entails transformational events or deformations in nature which introduce discontinuities into the evolution of a system. Epigenesis entails the generation of smooth landscapes, in waves or the surface of the earth, for example, formed by complex underlying topological interactions. The epigenetic landscape is the smooth forms of relief which are the products of the underlying complex networks of interactions. Morphogenesis describes the structural changes occurring during the development of an organism, wherein forms are seen as discontinuities in a system, as moments of structural instability rather than stability. A catastrophe is a morphogenesis, a jump in a system resulting in a discontinuity. Catastrophe theory is a topological theory describing the discontinuities in the evolution of a system in nature. A project which applies these models, and which helps to establish a theoretical basis for Bioconstructivism by applying topological models, is a design for a theater by Amy Lewis in a Graduate Architecture Design Studio directed by Associate Professor Andrew Thurlow at Roger Williams University, in Spring 2011. In the project, moments of structural stability are juxtaposed with moments of structural instability, to represent the contradiction inherent in self-generation or immanence. The singularity of the surfaces of the forms in the epigenetic landscape contradicts the complex network of interactions of topological forces from which they result. Actions in the environment on unstable, unstructured forms, and undifferentiated structures, result in stable, structured forms, and differentiated structures.

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