Changing Structures

November 21, 2012


“…much as a given chemical compound (water, for example) may exist in several instinct states (solid, liquid, or gas) and may switch from stable state to stable state at critical points in the intensity of temperature (called phase transitions), so a human society may be seen as a “material” capable of undergoing these changes of state as it reaches critical mass in terms of density of settlement, amount of energy consumed, or even intensity of interaction.” (DeLanda 2000, p.15)

The world is made up of structures, structures which, whether chemical compounds, mountains or social institutions, are shaped by specific historical processes. In the interactions between these various structures, new combinations are likely to emerge.
To capture different processes through which material form is generated, the philosopher Gillez Deleuze developed the concept of double articulation, which has to do with the formation of different strata (geological, biological, and social). Form and substance is generated within the concept of double articulation, operating simultaneously on both levels of the articulation so to speak.

The various strata, complexities and dynamics of urban life make me wonder how much architects really can control its development. The structures within cities are constantly in a state of flux, of growth and decay, working autonomously in many ways.
Even architectural history is written from a specific philosophical point of view. When studying architecture, can we re-read critical points that were crucial for its development?
If we aim to incorporate more structures into our critical understanding of architecture, which new social, biological, geological combination can emerge?




Manuel DeLanda, ‘Deleuze, Materialism and Politics ’, in Ian Buchanan and N. Thoburn, eds, Deleuze and Politics, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.

Manuel DeLanda, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, New York: Swerve, 2000. Excerpt.


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