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HUMBOLDT-UNIVERSITÄT ZU BERLIN PHILOSOPHISCHE FAKULTÄT III INSTITUT FÜR KULTURWISSENSCHAFT Lehrstuhl für Wissens und Kulturgeschichte Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schäffner Seminar ‘Struktur’ Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin · Phil.Fak.III. · Unter den Linden 6 · D-10099 Berlin



Candidate: Banush Shyqeriu, M.Arch.

Mentor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schäffner

Berlin, September 2010




Chapter I…………………………………………………………………………... 5 1. A temporal and spatial view on Ornament and Structure…………………



The problem of historicism………………………………………..



Ornament and Patterning Architecture……………………………. 8 i.Parametric patterning…………………………………………….. 10


Arabesque – Islamic Patterns and Ornamentation………………...



Meaning of Ornament……………………………………………..


i.Ornament as Autogenic – the Issue of Representation in Islam….


Chapter II………………………………………………………………………….. 17 2. Ornament in Art and Architecture……………………………………….... 17 -

Classicism…………………………………………………………. 17


Gothic and Baroque……………………………………………….. 18 i.Baroque Fold – a Philosophical approach………………………..




i.Discrediting the Ornament – a Cultural approach………………..


ii.Loos and Ornament & Crime…………………………………….


Chapter III…………………………………………………………………………


3. New Architectural Frontiers for Ornamentation…………………………..




Ornament as Structure…………………………………………….. 24


Biological Paradigm on Autogenic Structures…………………….



Exuberance and Ornamentation…………………………………...


i.Architextile – a cultural attitude on articulation of architecture…. 31 ii.Gottfried Semper and Tectonics of Textile - A Structural approach………………………………………………………….. 31 Bibliography……………………………………………………………………..... 35


Ornament and (as) Structure – New Biological Paradigm


Keywords: Ornament, Structure, Patterns, Architextiles, Paradigm, Kernform, Kunstform, Parametricism

Blinking weekly and strongly throughout the space and time, Ornament has always remained in the radar of attention of different disciplines, especially Art and Architecture; moreover, ornament was present since time immemorial. Recently a great concern and interest has risen on Ornament, which pushes us to render back its genesis, its worse times and its new frontiers.

“Any discourse should first go back to the simple origin of the subject under review, trace its gradual development, and explain exceptions and variations by comparing them with the original state.” Gottfried Semper1 This apparently seems to be a broad and ambitious undertake, but our writing will basically be concerned to scrutinize Ornament in relation to Structure, hence all the issues we would open, will be chiefly related to this theme. The discourse on Ornamentation will lead us back in the 19th century conflict between ‘natural’ and ‘historical’ origins of Architecture. A key figure in this discourse for our theme will be the German architect Gottfried Semper. His interest in Ornament, Textile and Tectonics through searching the origins of Art and Architecture, provide us with crucial facts for the new frontiers of Ornament in relation to Structure. In the other hand, Viennese architect, Adolf Loos in his work ‘Ornament and Crime’ would attack on all superficial ornament as regressive, even degenerative. But, we will see that this condemnation does not include a structural use of classical ornament, which Loos often affirms in his writings and practices in his architecture. Taking both Semper and Loos will provide us with key concepts for discourse on Ornament and Structure as it is thought in the realm of New Biological Paradigms. The theoretical background that Semper laid will be crucial for elaborating the importance of textile and patterning in Architecture in the realm of advances in design and new techniques and technologies. Architextiles2 owns much of Semper’s Bekleidung (dressing) principle. 1 2

Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p29 Architectural Design ‘Architextiles’ Vol 76/6, Wiley Academy, 2006


Deleuze’s text on the ‘fold’ will be elaborated in terms of textile, space and structure, especially concerning Baroque. The core-form (Kernform) and art-form (Kunstform) will be key factors on discussing Ornament and Structure – Ornament as Structure. An interesting theoretical and aesthetic approach will be set in the meaning and use of patterning and ornament in the Islamic architecture and its potentials for new frontiers in the scope of new techniques, technologies and advances in design – Ornament becoming Autogenic. The proliferation of computer technologies has shifted the interest of architects from Tectonic of the final product to its Surface.3 The use of digital tools and scripted patterns – parametricism, has given a new rise of ornamentation in the articulation of surface. Here the distinction between Kernform and Kunstform is blurred, ornament becomes structure and structure becomes ornament. The New Biological Paradigm on advanced design views building components as systems that act upon each other, where; material, structure, form, function and surface articulation/ornamentation are interconnected, alike natural/biological systems. In one hand, the role of cutting-edge computational and production technologies is extremely evident in the materialisation of patterned and ornamented aesthetics and in the increased effectiveness of transfers of patterns from nature and biology into engineering and architecture. In the other hand the significant emphasis on the structuring logic of tectonic is resulting in a ‘new structuralism’ in design. A highly dynamic synthesis of emerging principles of spatial, structural and material ordering integrated through the application of materialisation and fabrication technologies, providing the foundations for a new theory of structuring in architecture.


Hartoonian, Gevork ‘Crisis of the Object: the Architecture of Theatricality’ Taylor&Francis, 2006, p5


Chapter I 1. A temporal and spatial view on Ornament and Structure - The problem of historicism

The urge to ornament one’s face, and everything in one’s reach, is the origin of fine arts.4 Human kind since time immemorial used ornament both in their body and in their built forms, their structures and artefacts for daily use. Alexander Speltz in the ‘Styles of Ornament’ dates the use of Ornament since Prehistory – 6000 years ago. Writing in the early 20th century, Speltz takes an interesting position on describing Ornament in relation to Structure: Rightly understood, the conformation of an ornament should be in keeping with the form and structure of the object which it adorns, should be in complete subordination to it, and should never stifle or conceal it. …the art of ornamentation, therefore, stands in intimate relationship with material, purpose, form and style.5 This understanding of Ornamentation and Structure comes from quite early ancient times and then revived in the Classical period. Probably a more profound discourse on this issue we would fine in the writings of German architect, Gottfried Semper. For Semper, a dilemma played out in the tension between continuity and innovation: the desires to maintain tradition while at the same time find genuine expressions for contemporary culture.6 Semper struggled his whole life to formulate a “fundamental principle of invention, that with a logical certainty could lead to true form”. Yet, at the same time, he emphasised the need for historical continuity as an ontological basis for society and a creative source for architecture.7 The same idea of continuity we find in the work of Owen Jones ‘The Grammar of Ornament’: To attempt to build up theories of art, or to form a style, independently of the past, would be an act of supreme folly. It would be at once to reject the experience and accumulated knowledge of thousand of years. On the contrary, we should regard as our inheritance all the successful labours of the past, not blindly following them, but employing them simply as guides to find the true path. Semper structured his investigation around the four primary elements of architecture: the wall, the hearth, the mound, and the roof. Concerned with the origin of Art and Architecture, and rejecting the Vitruvian hut as well as its eighteenth-century interpretations, Semper presented a very different origin theory than those of his predecessors.


Loos, Adolf ‘Ornament and Crime’ 1908, p29 Speltz, Alexander ‘Styles of Ornament’ Chicago, 1923, p1 6 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p7 7 Ibid, p7 5


In his treatise The Four Elements of Architecture (1851), Semper redefined the wall as a spatial enclosure, or ‘wand’, rather than as a structural and critical tectonic member (‘mauer’). He referred to a building’s envelope as an example of ‘clothing’ and found a common etymological root to the German words for ‘dress’ and ‘wall’. Likening textiles to built surfaces he described both as types of ‘veiling’. For him it was the hanging wall-carpets and their status as nonstructural spatial dividers that made them ‘the true walls, the visible boundaries of space’.8 Moreover, in Semper’s system, the textile as ornament is more important than structure, since it represents the essential cosmogonic or ‘world creating’ function of Architecture. Semper’s structural/tectonic viewpoint in ancient and classical architecture would be better understood, when during the late 1830s, Karl Bötticher – on the advice of Schinkel – began to explore the ornamental forms of Greek architecture with regard to their symbolic meaning, specifically the development of the Greek tectonic language. His distinction between a ‘‘core-form’’ (also work-form; abstractly, the actual structural work to be performed) and the ‘‘art-form’’ (its symbolic or artistic representation) became a cornerstone of German tectonic theory, and gave rise to an abundance of theorizing on the application of these concepts to new materials and technologies.9 For Bötticher, the reciprocal relationship between Kernform and Kunstform constituted a dynamic interplay between the structure and ornament of architecture.10 The distinction between what is essential to architecture and what is excessive or ornamental was not grounded until the functional-rationalists’ attempt to separate these architectonic elements from each other. Leon Battista Alberti, for one; saw the relationship between the column and the wall differently. He treated these architectonic elements more like grammatical entities whose particular juxtaposition would connote certain meanings embedded in the metaphysics of humanism. Mies’s architecture, to mention just one contemporary example, entertained instead the “structural symbolic” dimension of the column and the wall, and the way these elements wrap and disclose the space where the tectonic, regardless of the building’s function, marks a departure from the totalizing content of techne.11 Temporally and spatially, ornament was conceived differently. To the ancient Egyptians, the temple meant the world, the ceiling was the heavens, under which the columns, made to represent plants, rose up from a mound of earth. As however, supports for carrying the ceiling were necessary, there was places, as connecting link between the supports and the burden, an abacus, which on account of the strong swell of the capital, was invisible from below. In this way, the idea of having again flowers under the open skies was realised. It is therefore, according to this, evident that the ornament was used as a support and not that the support was ornamented. 8

Garcia, Mark 2006: ‘Prologue for a History and Theory of Architextiles’, AD Vol 76/6, p15 Mallgrave, Harry Francis ‘Architectural Theory: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870’ Blackwell Publishing, 2006, p531 10 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p59 11 Hartoonian, Gevork ‘Crisis of the Object: the Architecture of Theatricality’ Taylor & Francis, 2006, p10 9


While structures built of stone predominated in Egypt, in these districts on the Tigris and Euphrates the buildings were almost always constructed of air-dried bricks. Walls made of these unburnt bricks were first coated with stone slabs, plaster, or asphalt, and then covered with mosaic-work formed of glazed pieces of terra-cotta. 12 This covering of walls emphasizes once more Semper’s thesis that the textile as a primordial wall was used latter as motive for walls built out of other materials, where now structure and ornament where interwoven. Elaborating Greek tectonic Language, Bötticher Thesis was that every detail of a Greek temple (including the curvature of its profiles and moldings) not only had a specific working function to satisfy but also a higher symbolic function – its art-form – to idealize. The curvature of the echinus of a Doric capital, for instance, might be inclined more vertically or horizontally to reflect the architect’s wish to accentuate or mitigate the structural load to be transmitted into the column. Ornamental forms painted on the echinus might also have arisen out of similar sensibilities relating to weight.13 Bötticher will conclude that the purpose of the ornament does not reside in the structural functioning of a building, but rather in articulating symbolically the function of the core-form, in precisely displaying all its relations, and thus in endowing the work with that independent life and that ethical sanction through which it can alone be raised into a work of art.14 In classical architectural theory, decoration was the complementary term for a fundamental distinction and was considered within an overall tripartite division of architecture’s teachings: distribution, construction and decoration, the three fundamental tasks of architectural design.15 According to Schinkel: The purposefulness of any building can be considered from three principal perspectives: purposefulness of spatial distribution or of the plan, purposefulness of construction or the joining of materials appropriate to the plan, purposefulness of ornament or decoration. As this discourse in Historicism dealing with the origin of Art and Architecture is a wide one, for us was crucial to bring few relevant references that shed light on Ornament in relation to Structure. We well further elaborate Ornament in the light of Patterning in Architecture. Patterns are generative elements of Ornamentation and their relation is inseparable. Moreover, the recognition of patterns in the natural and computer sciences and in the Architectural Design process, has also allowed new take on pattern-making to emerge.16


Speltz, Alexander ‘Styles of Ornament’ Chicago, 1923, pp13-14 Mallgrave, Harry Francis ‘Architectural Theory: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870’ Blackwell Publishing, 2006, p531 14 Ibid, p536 15 Schumacher, Patrik, 2009: ‘Parametric Patterns’, AD Vol 79/6, p30 16 Architectural Design ‘The Patterns of Architecture’ Wiley, 2009, AD Vol 79/6, p4 13



Ornament and Patterning Architecture

To understand the origins of this seeming aporia, we need to consider the histories and theories of patterns, and other, wider, multidisciplinary patterns research.17 The etymology of ‘pattern’ is from the Latin pater, or patronus, meaning father, patron, god or master, from which is derived the notion of pattern as a model, example, matrix, stencil or mould. The contemporary concept of pattern is as a sequence, distribution, structure or progression, a series or frequency of a repeated/repeating unit, system or process of identical or similar elements. Synonyms and related concepts include habit, meme, template, motif, configuration, organisation, arrangement, figure, tessellation, system, process, sample, duplicate, convention and texture. This multiplicity of meanings points to the manifold roles of pattern in the creation, reproduction, evolution and processes of space.18 The relation of patterns with detail, ornament, decoration, structure and beauty was strongly influenced by cultural attitudes, religion, geometry and maths, arts, design and crafts. The concepts and theories through which spatial pattern was theorised include order, hierarchy, organisation, system, scale, proportion, symmetry, balance, complexity, beauty, unity, function, decorum, representation, symbol, joint, nature, expression, imagination and creativity.19 The theories on patterns are wide and concern of different disciplines. In his search for the Origin of Art and Architecture, Gottfried Semper in his discourse on Dressing and Textile, sees the patterning as structural generative from the process of joining parts together – the knot:

Knots and braids. Gottfried Semper, Der Stil (2nd ed. 1878), vol. 1, pp. 169–72. Edinburgh University 20 Library. 17 Garcia, Mark, 2009: ‘Prologue for a History, Theory and Future of Patterns of Architecture and Spatial Design’ AD Vol 79/6, p8 18 Ibid, p8 19 Ibid, p9 20 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p68


In time, the motif of the knot was developed further in the more complex techniques of the braid, the wreath, the seam, and the weave; all constituting primordial symbols of ordering., symbolising “the primordial chain of being”.21

Techniques of weaving. Gottfried Semper, Der Stil (2nd ed. 1878), vol. 1, 22 p. 177. Edinburgh University Library.

A further connection to architecture and primordial motifs Semper found in the motif of the wall, which he tracked back to the technique of weaving. So the weaving as a patterning process of making an enclosure, a wall, a separation, was in the same time a structural, functional, symbolic and metaphysic representation of rituals. Further more, for Semper these original motifs of art are fused as well with the development of Architecture. ‘The beginnings of buildings coincide with those of weaving.’ Semper declared. The patterns that human beings used, be those for ornamenting their faces or for the weaving techniques; fall slightly under the ancient and classical theory of mimesis. Taking motifs from nature is a primordial process, but moreover this are not merely copied from nature, but transformed and developed under the aura of human creativity and aesthetics. Architecture as a Mimesis of Praxis is an Aristotelian paradigm. Aristotle, however, never claimed art to be an imitation of nature. What art (or poetic activity, to be more specific) imitates, he made explicitly and repeatedly clear, is something quite different. “For tragedy is not an imitation [mimesis] of men but of actions [ praxeos] and of life”, he wrote. “Thus, what happens – that is, the plot [mythos] – is the end for which a tragedy exists, and the end or purpose is the most important thing of all.”23 Hence, mimesis is a more complex process than imitation, it is a creative process.


Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p67 Ibid, p70 23 Ibid, p75 22


We will again continue in this theme of mimesis when we will discuss Biological Paradigms on Structure and Ornamentation. From the ancient times till now, patterns was far more important than the material stuff that constitutes it. From the theoretical approach to patterns, to its superficial use, patterns now are being embedded into the design process of Parametricism – Parametric Patterning. In the 1930s, many works can be found around patterns; Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic, building energies and structural patterns, from among those the theory on spatial patterns that came in 1977 with the publication of Christopher Alexander’s book ‘A Pattern Language’ would be quite influencing. Today’s spatial design pattern morphologies are mainly digital/parametric or Postmodern reworkings of ancient patterns (like waves) or new ones (like DNA) found or simulated with new and emerging visualisation and design technologies.24 i.Parametric patterning Concerned more and more with the building envelope, and using the new tools for design and new techniques and technologies, architects and designers are extensively investigating patterns. The building envelope is the system that is directly linked to the representational functions of the building. By using patterning it is possible the development of envelopes that resist primitive models of ‘faciality’, no longer structured on the opposition between front and back, private and public, or roof and wall, rendering the hierarchies of interface between building elements more complex. 25 Parametric patterning could be defined as a process of pattern finding and articulation into the envelope of the architectural form, through the use of scripting languages that embed the pattern into the given form, through a rule-based, parametric process. The use of parametric patterning in the surface articulation goes back to the Bötticher concept of Kernform and Kunstform. What is articulated here is the Kunstform (Artform) in terms of: relief, seaming, material, texture, colour, reflectivity and translucency, choreographed via correlating scripts. Mathematics has become a driven force behind the development of the scripting languages and parametric patterning themselves. In his work ‘A New Kind of Science’ Stephen Wolfram describes that almost all the complex forms and phenomenas that we find in nature can be described through simple rules. His research on cellular automata, has led him to generate complex patterning, alike to those we find in nature.


Garcia, Mark, 2009: ‘Prologue for a History, Theory and Future of Patterns of Architecture and Spatial Design’ AD Vol 79/6, p14 25 Zaera-Polo, Alejandro, 2009: ‘Patterns, Fabrics, Prototypes, Tessellations’ AD Vol 79/6, p22


Typical examples of pigmentation patterns on mollusc shells. In each close-up the pattern grows from 26 top to bottom, just like in a one-dimensional cellular automation.

These rule-based, simple scripts tend to create very complex patterning and behaviour; moreover the patterning is seen here as embedded in the process of growth and material formation in the natural/biological systems. Rule-based, Geometric patterns have fascinated mankind since ancient times. Artists had an excellent understanding of the generation principles of patterns long before mathematicians devoted deep studies to this subject. A prominent example is furnished by Moorish architecture. In the 13th-century Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, we find all the essentially different types of pattern that can be formed by congruent tiles; the mathematical classification has only been achieved in the 20th century. 27 -

Arabesque – Islamic Patterns and Ornamentation

As known, Islam in itself omits figuration. In this direction, Islamic architecture has constructed a taxonomy of patterns and ornamentation that express and goes along the basic tenet of Islam, not to be misled into an imaginary and idolatrous world. Islamic patterning and ornamentation has recently raised interests among the architects and artists because of its intellectual, mental, cultural and metaphysical bias, not merely decoration and material. In one hand this interest is also related with the shift of huge amount of construction works lead in the East by the Western architects and designers. And in the other hand, the Islamic patterning is becoming generative through digital tools in the articulation of the building envelope through a deep Ornamentation. 26 27

Wolfram, Stephen ‘A New Kind of Science’ Canada, 2002, p423 Pottmann, Helmut, 2009: ‘Geometry and New and Future Spatial Patterns’ AD Vol 79/6, p61


By freeing itself of any representation of living things, Islam gave a real constrain to the development of an art and architecture relied on pure inspiration, meaning, geometries, patterns and forms derived from nature. A wide alphabet inspired and derived from nature, created a whole grammar and language which universally spread and come to be accepted as a unique creation of the Muslim World spatially and temporally. Patterns and Ornaments inspired form Nature and developed in a unique way through the use of geometry created across centuries what is now being known as Arabesque, Islamic Patterns and Islamic Ornaments, which created a definite visual language possessing both vocabulary and grammar. The Vocabulary of the Mosque according to Ardalan28 reveals the aesthetic concepts and models of the parts of the Mosque, constituting the forms, surface, patterns, colour selection and materials. While Grammar relates to various systems of organising these parts into a coherent whole, within the framework of Islamic concepts of place making.

The concept of Vocabulary and Grammar that Ardalan brought (Nader Ardalan – one of the most prominent theorists of Islamic Architecture) could be placed in the realm of Structuralist approach to architecture; as structural counterpart to language. For Saussure, the fact that buildings have regular identifiable components makes it easy, at first sight to speak of the language of architecture and the vocabulary of architecture.29 In this realm of structure as a counterpart of a building language, vocabulary and grammar, Eduard Sekler,30 in his essay ‘Structure, Construction, Tectonics’ states: Through tectonics the architect may make visible, in a strong statement that intensified kind of experience of reality which is the artist's domain—in our case the experience of forces related to forms in a building. Thus structure, the intangible concept, is realized through construction and given visual expression through tectonics.

28 Ardalan, N., 1980, “The Visual Language of Symbolic Form: A Preliminary Study of Mosque Architecture”, J.G. Katz (Ed.), Architecture as Symbol and Self-identity, Philadelphia: Aga Khan Award for Architecture 29 Winters, Edward ‘Aesthetics and Architecture’ New York, 2007 30 Kepes, Gyorgy ‘Structure in Art and in Science’ New York, 1965, p92


Moreover, the ornamentation in the Islamic architecture, by elaborating materials through geometrical techniques of tiling, multiplication, modularity, association, scaling and dispersion of the patterns creates direct link to the Semper’s theory of dressing and textile, which we will further elaborate later on this writing. Relevant for our theme on Structure and Ornament would be to bring briefly our research on Structural Ornamentation for Mosque Design. Searching for universal as well as local meaning for developing a structural language for Mosque design as a representative built form, in-between theory and design we proposed ornament as a legible and powerful element for creating both conceptual and formal solution for articulation of Mosque design not just in the envelope but more profoundly – structurally. Moreover, modular development approach collapses what seems now to be an artificial separation of structure from ornament.31 By defining three categories of Ornamenting used in the Islamic Architecture: 1. Geometrical Islamic Patterns 2. Vegetal and Floral, and 3. Islamic Calligraphy – Arabesque

Our approach was to adopt methods to transform these 2D patterns into 3D components, by mining tectonic/structural potentials.


Douglis, Evan 'Autogenic Structures' Taylor & Francis, Oxon, 2009


By disintegrating the pattern into layers, unfolding the generic layers, we derive the geometrical entities to be used for composing and transferring them into threedimensional components. The criteria set for this technique was that, first of all the 3D component should resemble the generic pattern, hence be legible as a Islamic Pattern, the second main issue was the associative and connective potentials of the 3D component for an associative/blended ‘population’ of a component on a surface.

By using digital tools which automate repetitive tasks – population, multiplication, deformation, association, blending and scaling – an intricate system appears, by dissolving the ornament into structure, interacting material, skin, form and space, into a monolithic whole.

Mining structural Potentials of Ornament/Component – Folding, associating, populating, dissolving,


This new approach to Architectural Design through reframing, reworking and reconceptualising the generative motifs was to be understood as well as in the meaning that the generic motifs had spatially and temporally – meaning of ornament. -

Meaning of Ornament

Here with the term meaning, we don’t merely state the etymology of ornament but it’s meaning that has through out social, cultural, material and religious attitudes. A Visual Dictionary of Architecture defines Ornament as: an accessory, article, or detail that lends grace or beauty to something to which it is added or of which it is an integral part.32 The American Heritage Dictionary traces the Etymology of Ornament from Middle English ournement, from Old French ornement, from Latin ½rn³mentum, from ½rn³re, to adorn. Islamic prayer requires no tangible object, such as an icon or a statue, to induce a sense of divine presence and serve as a support for worship. Visual engagement is therefore unnecessary. There are two sets of views on ornamentation used in the Muslim world and specifically in the Architecture of the Mosque. The First View - the Perenialists’ Approach Ornametn and Symbolism, the perennialists argue, is the most appropriate approach for comprehending the inner meanings of traditional art and architecture and for penetrating deep into their worlds of spirituality and metaphysics. In summary, the perennialists, approach the question of artistic production from the viewpoint of creative imagination and religious inspiration. They focus primarily on 32

Ching, Francis D.D. ‘A Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ Canada, 1995, p182


the ideas, rituals, and cosmology within the matrices of which an artefact is produced, rather than the historico-cultural conditions that facilitate such production.33 The Second View - the Ornamentation as Pleasure Oriented Here we bring two statements and conclusions of two prominent architects and historians of Islamic Architecture: “Ornament is the ultimate mediator, paradoxically questioning the value of meanings by channelling them into pleasure.” Oleg Grabar, ‘The Mediation of Ornament’ “Norms of beauty in the Arab-Islamic culture were autonomous, pleasure-oriented, and independent of moral and religious criteria”. Doris Behrens-Abouseif, ‘Beauty in the Arabic Culture’ i.Ornament as autogenic – the Issue of Representation in Islam Our work maintains the position that Ornamentation in Islamic arts and architecture has certain level of ambiguity due to several implications and tendencies to give meaning to it. Moreover we inherit a sharp distinction through the potency of our recent Modernist past; of what is ornament and pure structure. If ornamentation is to fully return from its banishment, it will only do so as an internally generated feature essential to the expression of the whole. More bluntly, it needs to be autogenic. Further, recent discourse requires a complete separation of the word decoration from the word ornament: one is understood as externally applied and extrinsic, while the other is understood as constitutive and intrinsic. Nominations of decoration are often associated with a cynical interest in kitsch, whereas ornamentation is usually a preliminary term in the pursuit of unadulterated architectural expression.34 Freeing up the Ornament from banishment and clichés will render it back to its potentials for representational capabilities for surface articulation and structural performance. To understand the issue of Ornament and Structure we will render them back in Art and Architecture through some most prevailing periods.


Samer Akkach, ‘Cosmology and architecture in premodern Islam: an architectural reading of mystical ideas’ New York, 2005 34 Douglis, Evan 'Autogenic Structures' Taylor& Francis, Oxon, 2009


Chapter II 2. Ornament in Art and Architecture In its wide relations and understanding, Ornament has been in the forefront of some approaches in Art and Architecture. The Classical period is probably the most interesting one. - Classicism Classicism is defined as a return to the principles of Greek and Roman art and architecture. There have been a number of classical revivals, but the most well known is the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-eighteenth century.35 We already began to elaborate the issue of Classicism in relation to Ornament and Structure in the beginning of our writing, when we brought to the forefront Semper’s theories on dressing and textile and Bötticher theory on Core-form and Art-form. In the realm of art, there were two key points on Semper thinking; to seek the origins of art in some primordial human condition; and, second, to reveal the development of art as a metamorphosis of motifs.36 Hence, Semper turned to textile art, to the knot as a primordial motif. Having identified the origins of art in the rituals of dance and ornamentation of the body. Semper fused them into Architecture. Considering the first enclosures as woven by branches of grass, Semper identified the wickerwork as the essence of the wall. Hence he will conclude: Textile art, therefore, itself an imitation of ritual, rhythm, and dance – is the source not only of the practical arts, but also architecture; ‘The beginnings of buildings coincide with those of weaving.’ This cross-origin of art and architecture from the motifs of pattern-generation in the wickerwork, dance and ornamentation of the bodies gives us the primordial motifs for the development of first built structures, where the light textile walls were transformed into clay tile, brick, or stone walls, transforming the material by retaining the motifs – the patterning/ornamentation. The process of material metamorphosis (Stoffwechsel) is a historical process based on and propelled by the principle of imitation.37 Moreover we saw that imitation is a more complex process, where human creativity is crucial, hence the classical works cannot be merely seen as mimesis of nature or the early classical motifs. Going back to the Bötticher work ‘The Tectonics of Helens’ which he approached theoretically and practically, explaining the symbolism and tectonic/structural issues of the Greek Architecture, we find that ornament and structure form an organism through members (membra). The ornament (the art-form) is used structurally (in the core-from) to rise the building into a work of art.


Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris & Sally Stone ‘The Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ AVA Publishing, 2008, p83 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p10 37 Ibid, p11 36


The theory of core-form and art form we will render back to the Gothic and Baroque periods, which brought new perspectives and challenges to the use of structure and ornament as interiority, as fluent and as folding feature. - Gothic and Baroque Gothic is defined as an architectural style from medieval Europe that favoured the use of stone to create monumental buildings. The Gothic aesthetic is characterised by the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, clerestory windows and the flying buttress, all of which contribute to a reduction in the width of the walls, the general slenderising of the structure and the formation of a dramatic and splendid architecture.38 Though ornament and structure have been recognized as important architectural features since the early days of architectural history, the difference between the two was never fully realized as a meaningful difference until the late nineteenth century. As Anne-Marie Sankovitch insightfully points out in her discussion concerning the Gothic cathedral St. Eustache: Structure is the recessive, unrecuperable, unstable presence that finally we cannot work back to; ornament becomes all that we can clearly see, but we can never remove it, see past it, without destroying the structure, which is essential. They are both (here but do not coexist in the simple oppositional way that so many modern texts would have us believe.'

What we find in this statement is the conceptual and practical idea of the Gothic architecture – expressing the monumentality through the elaboration of structure into the diagram of forces and embedding ornament into the structure. 38

Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris &Sally Stone ‘The Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ AVA Publishing, 2008, p137


The structural approach in Gothic architecture is slightly different from the classical architecture. Here walls and roofs are fluently connected, columns and beams are melted throughout the space and the diagram of forces is expressed in the interiority through materialisation into deep ornament, while exteriority is the skin wrapping the bones, and the bones coming into the forefront as pulled from the gravity. Similar renderings we find in the Baroque Architecture, even stronger and more articulated. Baroque is a European style of architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was based upon the transformation of classical forms with an inventive use of space and decoration. It was characterised by ornate detail, exuberant curvaceous decoration and grand sweeping gestures with spatially complex compositions. Examples of Baroque architecture include the façade in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Palace of Versailles.39 Many architects recently are following Baroque spatial sequences and structures as a starting point to design complex, interwoven systems where form is flowing into the structure and ornament is melting into space and structure as a mediator, exuberant and expressive. Certain new Postmodern architecture theories developed after Deleuze’s text on the ‘Fold, Leibniz and Baroque’ are articulating a new metaphysical and ontological characterisation of space. These new theories are concerned with the dynamic, interactive, multimedia, flexible, ephemeral, event- and process-based methods of designing and experiencing space.40 We find quite relevant for our writing to explore briefly the Baroque architecture under the Deleuze’s Fold and latter on through the Semper’s Bekleidungsprinzip i. Baroque Fold – a Philosophical approach The Baroque Fold tends to liberate form from the usual constrains, where surface is not merely consisting a rational structure but in a form of textile gives; fluidity, stiffness, association, differentiation, movement, and gravity defeating – an antithesis of architectural support. Deleuze's work may be the first and most daring venture to take the Baroque, in the specific figure of the fold, through the history of art, science, costume, mathematics, lyric, and philosophy.41 Deleuze defines the Baroque Fold in two ways, two stages or floors: the pleats of matter, and the folds in the soul.


Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris & Sally Stone ‘The Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ AVA Publishing, 2008, p57 Garcia, Mark, 2009: ‘Prologue for a History, Theory and Future of Patterns of Architecture and Spatial Design’ AD Vol 79/6, p17 41 Deleuze, Gilles ‘The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque’ London, 1993, p9 40


Defining two states of the matter/body, as a degree of hardness and as well as a degree of fluidity, Deleuze identifies matter as folded twice, once under elastic forces, a second time under plastic forces. This two folds and states of matte lead us back to Bötticher theory on Core- form, which in Deleuze’s view would be the plastic forces promoting it, and the Art-form, where the elastic forces depict, form and promote it. Identifying force as an act, an act of fold, Deleuze renders the Baroque as a diagram of interactive forces which interact with the intrinsic and extrinsic systems to create the folds, which wrap the two levels – the pleats of matter, the structure, and the folds of soul, the ornament. Baroque Architecture, according to Deleuze, can be defined by this severing of the facade from the inside, of the interior from the exterior, and the autonomy of the interior from the independence of the exterior, but in such conditions that each of the two terms thrusts the other forward. While the Baroque interiority in most of the cases falls and folds back on itself. The problem here is not how to finish a fold, but how to continue it. The curve-linearity expressed in the interior is a generic element of the fold, where two floors are brought together, the curve becomes the unfinite line of inflection. Where one system begins, the structure - and where the other ends, the ornament - is unclear, it is folded. The theory of fold will string along with us again in the end of this writing, where we will explore more in depth Semper’s theory on Dressing and Textile. Having briefly explored; Classicism, Gothic and Baroque in the scope of Structure and Ornament we will now prepare our way to the New frontiers of Structure and Ornament, before we go to this last chapter, we take some relevant issues and discourses that Modernism opened in the realm of Ornament.




An art and design movement (1890–1940) that was shaped by the industrialisation and urbanisation of Western society. Functionality and progress, expressed through the maxim of ‘form follows function’, became key concerns. In architecture, modernism embraced an asymmetrical approach to layout and the abandonment of decoration in favour of geometric forms to create open, functional spaces.42 In our approach to Structure and Ornament we will reveal modernism in two folds; promoting ornament in new way through industrial advances, and discrediting it theoretically and practically as superfluous and regressive. Even though Modernism was promoting the white wall and the preciseness of engineering, patterning and ornamentation was still a strong articulating feature of both structure and building envelope. The use of patterns is visible in the writing and works of many Modernists; Le Corbusier, the Smithsons, Metabolists. Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright are probably more notable in the use of ornament in their work. Mies used columns in such a way as to express and articulate the tectonics and aesthetic values of the structure, hence tectonics expresses the ornament as an Art-form. So, the use of columns in the corners of many high-rise buildings by Mies, which are not structural, emphasizes the Core-form of the building, by rendering the patterns of these columns as a tectonic expression of the diagram of forces, which express themselves as ornament. Frank Lloyd Wright in the other hand uses Ornament in a more fluent, textile-way. Wright never advocated the direct revivalism or imitation of traditional ornaments but chooses to select his own motifs and composition of ornamentation. In the Unity Temple, Wright displays his powers of integrating ornament into the building’s exterior characteristics and he had also rendered the interior ornamentation through the ceiling mouldings, fixtures and wall panelling. Integration of structure and decor: Unity Temple, Chicago, By Wright (FH).

Promoting the Organic Architecture, probably the most notable work of Wright in our relevance to Structure and Ornament is the textile block, Ennis House.

“The textile block method of construction consisted of stacking concrete blocks three inches thick, cast in molds, next to and atop one another without visible mortar joints’43

42 43

Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris &Sally Stone ‘The Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ AVA Publishing, 2008, p173


Here Wright melts the idea of the textile softness and fluidity into the structure and skin of the building. The ornament is the prevailing, the structure is the ornament. The use of Concrete in the 20th century and the advances on engineering calculation of it led to and immense use of it in innovative ways. The prominent Modernists of the early 20th century, notably Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret, exploited the flexibility of concrete to create new forms and shapes. They designed cities for the future that contained strong, bold and tall structures all made from concrete.44 Perhaps most relevant to our theme of Ornament and Structure is Pier Luigi Nervi, who used his understanding of materials to create incredibly elegant structures. What it is rendered in Nervi’s works as ornamentation is the structure itself, the diagram of forces that comprise the construction, expressing it through tectonic articulation of the material. Moreover, Nervi explored the possibility of topologically deforming patterns in order to accommodate the differential behaviours of structures. The decorative patterning of surfaces was still taken for granted all the way through the 19th century until, suddenly, Modernism opted for the clean, white wall – in the footsteps of the clean, white shirt. The first examples of unadorned, naked architecture were causing public scandals, most notoriously Adolph Loos’ Haus am Michaelerplatz (1898) in Vienna.45 ii. Discrediting the Ornament – a cultural approach Loos soon won the argument. The reevaluation of values was extreme: ornament signified backwardness. According to Loos, the evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament. His famous polemic compared ornamentation with the tattoos of criminals, and his reasoning goes as follows: ‘Primitive men had to differentiate themselves by various colours; modern man needs his clothes as a mask. His individuality is so strong that it can no longer be expressed in terms of items of clothing.’46


Farrelly, Lorraine ‘Construction+Materiality’ AVA Publishing, 2009, p48 Schumacher, Patrik, 2009: ‘Parametric Patterns’, AD Vol 79/6, p32 46 Ibid, p32 45


iii. Loos and Ornament & Crime “Ornament and Crime” was mostly read as “Ornament is Crime”47 To understand Loos’ condemnation of Ornament we’ll explore briefly some of his ideas and theories. First of all, Loos was against mixing and confusing art, architecture and craft, for him this would make the greatest humiliation possible. Moreover, his engagement with some theories in psychoanalyses and anthropology, circulating on the first half of the 20th century, would emphasize his theory. Connecting ornamentation with tattoos, criminals, degeneration, waste of money and material, Loos extends this to Architecture, through banishing ornament that was created at that time, as superfluous which bears no relation to the current time and that it has no potential for development. Only under this light of spatial end temporal view and circumstances we would understand Loos’ view on Ornament. “We have fought our way through to freedom from ornament,” he writes early in “Ornament and Crime”; and then again at its end: “Freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength”48 Not surprisingly the condemnation of ornament does not include a structural use of classical ornament, which Loos often affirms in his writings and practices in his architecture. In this sense, given his taste for ornate materials, especially in the interiors, the architectural historian Harry Mallgrave has concluded that Loos ‘was, at heart, an ornamentalist’49 Hence, the stereotyping of Modernism as dogmatically anti-pattern and against decoration and ornament is inaccurate, as numerous examples attest.50 Having elaborated ornament and structure in the light of a historical perspective, theoretical and practical background, in our last chapter we will render these perspectives as seen nowadays in Architecture’ theory and practice, as well as to explore the potentials of an ornamented structural approach for the new frontiers, enhanced by the advances in design, emerging techniques and technologies and inspired by an performative approach on Nature as a Paradigm.


Foster, Hal ‘Prosthetic gods’ MIT Press, 2004, p56 Ibid, p79 49 Ibid, p99 50 Garcia, Mark, 2009: ‘Prologue for a History, Theory and Future of Patterns of Architecture and Spatial Design’ AD Vol 79/6, p12 48


Chapter III 3. New Architectural Frontiers for Ornamentation Patterns, fabrics and ornament are recently enjoying a powerful return in many disciplines, hence in art and architecture as well. As early modernists sought to dress both the interior space and the exterior body of architecture with a garment that was cut according to the aesthetics of abstraction; a plain form devoid of any ornamentation51, the architects and designers , nowadays are dressing their buildings with an ornate garment, a skin which far from being merely aesthetic, promotes the performative potentials. Bötticher theory of Core-form and Art-form is again being put into forefront, as the proliferation of computer technologies has shifted the interest of architects from tectonics of the final product to its surface.52 Articulation of the surface is becoming a design culture, a programming culture and a cultural approach to design. The new shifts are promoting systems created through parametric patterning, which create structural ornamentation of the building envelops. - Ornament as Structure Viewing patterns and ornamentation far from merely decoration, new approaches are mining cultural and political possibilities, as well as ecological. The approach on ornament as structure even though has earlier precedents like Viollet le Duc, the full potentials will be waiting to be revealed recently with the advent of technique and technology and new approaches in design, where performance takes a crucial place.

Left: Organically conceived structural detail, hypothetical great hall, Middle: Iron truss with decoration incorporated, Right: Iron frame construction, hypothetical assembly hall for three thousand: Viollet-le-Duc (Discourses).53

Buckmunster Fuller structures are typically ornamented; moreover, the ornament is the structure itself. What such structures like Geodesic domes or Dymaxion House lack is a sense of spatial and representative quality and meaning, which could be read 51

Hartoonian, Gevork ‘Crisis of the Object: the Architecture of Theatricality’ Taylor&Francis, 2006, p3 Ibid, p5 53 Hearn, Fil ‘Ideas that shaped the buildings’ MIT press, 2003 52


as bones without skin, without garment. Moreover, meaning and performance is collapsed into mechanics.54 The new Paradigms on Structure view it in close relation to skin; materiality, form and space, as systems that act upon each other. These Paradigms come from Biology/Natural Systems, which treat structure as Autogenic55 in the process of Morphogenesis and Self-Organisation.56

- Biological Paradigm on Autogenic Structures To take a reference from ecological thought, we can observe that change is brought to an environment either through allogenic succession where foreign influence changes the conditions of the territory, or through autogenic succession where changes are brought through internal reconfiguration.57 For architecture, becoming autogenic means to revive its inner potentials, where the driven forces for novelty and performance are found within the architectural ideas and inspirations. Hence, reference and paradigm form and enhance these ideas. Taking reference form nature as a paradigm is a creative act of mimesis. This theme of mimesis we already elaborated in the realm of Classicism, where, referring Bötticher; the principles of Greek tectonics were ‘fully identical with the principles of creative nature’.58 Latter on, many theorists, engineers and architect would return to nature principles. Buckminster Fuller writings in the 1960s provided an inspiring bridge between our comprehension of the structural principles of nature and the potential application of this knowledge to creation of man-made forms.59 However, our understanding of natural principles has extended ever since. From the Vitruvian identification of the three basic components of architecture (firmness, commodity and delight) through Semper’s theories on Dressing and Textile, and Bötticher theory of Core-form and Art-form, new perspectives and potentials are found, enhanced, supported and advocated from the advances in design and emerging techniques and technologies. Alongside the potentials for a Biological Paradigm for Architectural Design, there are a number of crucial challenges and difficulties; in terms of materiality, composition, behaviour, performance and lifecycle. Unlike engineering materials, Natural materials develop under load, and the intricate structure of biological materials is an evolutionary response.60 The challenging paradigm of nature for architectural structures relies in the very materiality of the biological system. As the structure and material in the biological systems are grown, hence are in separable. These differences can be revealed as explored by Peter Fratzl in ‘Nature’s hierarchical material’.61 54

For more see: LaVine, Lance ‘Mechanics and Meaning in Architecture’ Minneapolis, 2001 Douglis, Evan 'Autogenic Structures' Taylor & Francis, Oxon, 2009 56 For more see: Weinstock, Michael 2006:‘Self-Organisation and Material Constructions’ AD 76/2 = 180, p.34-41 57 For more see: Douglis, Evan 'Autogenic Structures' Taylor & Francis, Oxon, 2009 58 Mallgrave, Harry Francis ‘The Architect’s Brain: Neuroscience, Creativity and Architecture’ Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, p66 59 Kepes, Gyorgy, ‘Structure in Art and in Science’ New York, 1965, pV 60 Weinstock, Michael 2006:‘Self-Organisation and Material Constructions’ AD 76/2 = 180, p.35 61 Peter Fratzl, Richard Weinkamer, ‘Nature’s hierarchical materials’ Elsevier, 2007 55


Biological Materials

Engineering Material

Light Elements dominate: C, N, O, H, Ca, P, S, Si,... Growth by biologically controlled self-assembly (approximate design)

Large Variety of Materials Fe, Cr, Ni, Al, Si, C, N, O,... Fabrication from melts, powders, solutions, etc. (exact design)

Hierarchical Structuring at all size levels

Forming (of the part) and Micro-structuring (of the material)

Adaptation of form and structure to the function

Selection of material according to function

Modeling and Remodeling: Capability of adaptation to changing environmental conditions. Healing: Capability of self-repair

Secure Design (considering possible maximum loads as well as fatigue)

Biological and engineering materials are governed by a very different choice of base elements and by a different mode of fabrication. From this are resulting different strategies for materials choice and development.

The engineering principles of biological systems can be abstracted and applied to the design of artefacts and buildings, a process known as biomimetics. Biomimetics is essentially interdisciplinary, a series of collaborations and exchanges between mathematicians, physicists, engineers, botanists, doctors and zoologists. The rigid boundaries between the inherited taxonomy of ‘pure’ disciplines make little sense in this new territory. The logic of biomimesis, stands for abstracting principles from the way in which biological processes develop a natural material system, applying analogous methods in an industrial context, and using stronger materials to manufacture a material that has no natural analogue.62 Discovering the Principles and Mechanisms in Natural/Biological systems and instrumentalising them for architectural design is becoming a driven agenda form many research institutions and Architecture Schools. Exploring the hierarchical levels in plants and sea organisms, researches have created a better understanding of structure in relation to other systems and subsystems. In this relation, as structure is grown together with other systems, it is embedded into the materiality, form, behaviour and performance. Moreover the ornamentation we see in plants and animals is a direct consequence of growth and materiality rather a merely decoration. This understanding is crucial for our theme of Ornament as Structure, which has recently raised interest of many designers, taking the Paradigm of Natural/Biological system, where Ornament is structured during the process of growth.


Weinstock, Michael 2006:‘Self-Organisation and the Structural Dynamics of Plants’ AD 76/2 = 180, p.27


After exploring and understanding these principles and mechanism of Natural/Biological systems, the challenge is how to instrumentalise them for architectural design? The new tools for design; computer-aided design, manufacturing and fabrications are becoming a driven force for this instrumentalisation and materialisation of new Biological paradigms for Architecture. The environment in which is designed nowadays is an active one, unlike inert mediums such as paper and pencil. According to Greg Lynn63, there are three fundamental properties of organization in a computer that make this difference: 1. Topology, 2. Time, and 3. Parameters In our elaboration of Patterning and Ornamentation, we already tackled the parametricism as a tool for designing patterns and ornamentation, embedded into the skin and structure. Here we will depict some research and case studies brought by Architectural Design magazine, which are relevant for our theme of Ornament as Structure. The biological paradigm in architecture has brought new approach on the design elaboration in terms of relationships of form, structure, material and space. The structure has gained fluency, interwoven into spatial transformation, connectivity and fluidity of sequencing. Moreover such architecture is becoming Exuberant and Elegant, where ornamentation is inseparable from structure and materiality of the building. The following example shows such an approach where architecture is elaborated through autogenic structuring, interiorities as a grown species. Johnny Lin (Rahim Research Studio, University of Pennsylvania), Interiorities: Urban Club, TriBeCa, New York City, 200964

63 64

Lynn, Greg ‘Animate Form’ Princeton Architectural Press, 1998 Rahim, Ali, 2010: ‘Interiorities’ AD Vol 80/2, pp26-27


The design research tested the limits of elegance studying quick and slow transformations in different sequences. This design approach melts interiority into structural ornamentation and articulation of spatial sequences. The significant emphasis on the structuring logic of tectonics is resulting in a ‘new structuralism’ in design. A highly dynamic synthesis of emerging principles of spatial, structural and material ordering integrated through the application of materialisation and fabrication technologies, providing the foundations for a new theory of structuring in architecture.65 The new Techniques and Technologies give us the opportunity to treat the ornamentation inseparable from the form-giving and structural capabilities; moreover this exuberance explores the immense proliferation of aesthetics and tectonics in Architecture. - Exuberance and Ornamentation Historically Baroque shows the most extensive use of Exuberance and excess. Having treated Baroque in the light of Deleuze’ Fold in terms of a theoretical approach as well as structural and aesthetic, now we will see some of the Baroque principles treated under the advanced approaches in design. The synergetics of systems and subsystems in Biological Structures are recently being explored as a Paradigm for Integration of technology, especially services of the building with the over all systems, hence the performace and aesthetics of the building. Where structure ands and ornamentation begins is blurred within the performance of the building. The example brought here reveals an attempt on hybridising structural, mechanical and lighting systems, to avoid expressing the literal image of technology in favour of ambient atmospheric effects. Supercolumns become hybrid ducts, while a pattern of micro-pleats runs along surfaces, housing a heat-exchange system for cooling. At night, the beam ducts glow from behind the glass skin, creating elegant colour effects and gauzy silhouettes.66

65 66

AD Vol 80/4, 2010 Wiscombe, Tom, 2010: ‘Extreme Integration’ AD Vol 80/2, pp84-85


This reminds us to the Baroque Fold, where folds are not ending but continued and folded to one another. More radically exploring the systems and subsystems of the architectural species as folding upon each other, is brought by the research by the Emergent group. This research explores the integration of ‘air flow’, ‘fluid flow’ and ‘glow’ together with ornamentation in the structure, materialisation and architectural space.67

EMERGENT, The Menagerie, 2006

EMERGENT, Batwing Prototype, 2008

Once the sanctity of the surface as an independent agent exclusively responsible for affect is challenged, other logics and systems can begin to operate in a space that opens up between performance and sensation, infrastructure and ornament. Batwing combines principles of an active chilled beam (which induces air flow over a coil) with structural and lighting features. Double-pleats provide hollow spaces for air flow while also providing structural rigidity to the surface. Air flow is directed over an embedded latticework of fluid micro-capillaries which cool or heat through radiative heat exchange.68 Consider the agamid lizard from Australia, whose skin exhibits several interwoven features – deep relief, micropatterning, and colour variegation. Not all of these features are legible in terms of their performative values. It turns out that the deep grooves in the skin conduct water from the lizard’s back all the way into its mouth, so it never has to drink. However, this function is obfuscated by other salient features of less obvious purpose and their combined visual effect. Excesses and messy overlaps of form and function allow multiple types of work to be done, from structural to environmental to ornamental.69 The next prototype shows a component which combines a graywater capture system with an algae photobioreactot system in a way that produces structural as well as ornamental effects.


Wiscombe, Tom, 2010: ‘Extreme Integration’ AD Vol 80/2, p82 Ibid, p82 69 Ibid, pp82-83 68


EMERGENT, Lizard Panel Facade, 2009

Explores the potential of ornamentation as structural, for many years, Evan Douglis Studio is taking this issue at the forefront. Inspired by aesthetics and tectonic/structural potentials as well as vibrant exuberance of flora, the idea and digital models are being abstrahised into polymer-cast prototype.

The excess, fluidity, supersaturation of form, material, structure and ornament is set upon a theoretical background of articulation in architecture. This theory and practice formed around the term Architextiles owns much of Semper’s theories on Dressing and Textile, which we began to elaborate in our first chapters. Here we will explore more in depth the theme of textile in architecture and especially as relevance for our theme of Structure and Ornament, in this way also concluding our brief work in this new, wide and promising field.


i. Architextile –a Cultural attitude on Articulation of Architecture Textile is showing a significant rise of interest in this confluence by theorists, architects, engineers, textile designers, materials scientist and artists.70 Theoretical, materials science, engineering, technological, economic and sociocultural developments are the key drivers behind the expansion of the Architextiles body of work.71 The etymological link of textile is explicit. ‘Textile’, ‘technology’, ‘text’, ‘texture’, ‘connection’ and ‘context’ are all derivative inflections of the same proto-IndoEuropean word ‘tek’, which is the root of ‘architecture’. ‘Technology’ and ‘textile’ are also both derived from the Latin ‘texere’, meaning to weave, connect and/or construct. A hybrid of ‘architectures’ and ‘textiles’, the word ‘architextiles’ refers to this body of projects and the ways of thinking and making that join the two.72 Dating textile structure around 7000 years ago, urged to believe that the first building materials and structures were textile based. The connection of textile with architecture is ever-intensifying since the first encounter. Considering the connection Architecture-textile, it comes in form of a relationship in four most occurring forms: when a textile or textile-based process is used as a metaphor, when a textile-like spatial structure (such as a weave) is produced in architecture, when textiles (or textile composites) are used as a real material in a real building, and where textiles appear in architectural theory and texts.73 The theoretical break on textile, no doubt belongs to the German architect Gottfired Semper. Moreover, Semper’s new notions of a textile-based architecture represented a distinct break with previous theories of architecture and influenced later 20th-century Postmodern theories of space.74 ii. Gottfried Semper and Tectonics of Textile - A Structural approach In October 1848, the British Museum received a remarkable shipment from Constantinople. The event challenged the view of ancient Greece as the autochthonous cradle of art, indicating that Greek classicism – widely regarded as a symbol of the dignity and superiority of Western culture – had its roots in the ‘barbarian’ East. Among the audience was a German architect temporarily stranded in London: Gottfried Semper.75 Semper must have studied the new acquisitions of the British Museum carefully. This influence would be seen soon in his works. The Four Elements of Architecture ( Die Vier Elemente der Baukunst ,1851) was an important step in this direction. Here Semper lays out two theories. The first is the 70

Garcia, Mark 2006: ‘Architecture + Textiles = Architextiles’, AD Vol 76/6, p5 Ibid, p8 72 Ibid, p7 73 Ibid, p13 74 Ibid, p15 75 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p1 71


notion that architecture derives its essential forms from four primordial or original motives found in the technical arts of ceramics, roofing (carpentry), mounding (terracing and masonry), and weaving (walling). The second notion is his so-called Bekleidung or ‘‘dressing’’ thesis. This archaeological and spatial theme suggests that the textile motive for the wall underwent an intricate process of formal development, as the conceptual rudiments of weaving evolved into textile wall hangings and later into solid wall dressings (panelling and paint) that emulated in style their original textile origin.76 Semper’s depicting of his four elements is represented by the ‘Caraib hut’ that he had encountered at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. The hut embodied in an exemplary way the four elements of architecture, and demonstrated the interrelationship between architecture and the motifs of practical art.77 “The Caraib Hut”. Gottfried Semper, Der Stil (2nd ed. 1878), vol. 2, p. 263. Edinburgh University Library.

Semper’s theory on Dressing is being taken recently through advanced approaches in design, where textile is used both theoretically and in its materiality to articulate architectural ideas through tectonics, structure and ornamentation. Moreover this takeover of textile is being facilitated with the new technologies and its exploration in respected academic research institutions. The possibilities, issues, terms, systems and processes in the scope of textile, that many disciplines are suggesting and exploiting are immense: soft, flexible, convoluted, networked, continuous, dynamic, variable, woven, latticed, folded, adaptable, translucent, tensile, pneumatic, pleated, creased, knotted, pliable, porous, veiled, elastic, plastic, supple, knitted, draped, flowing, interactive, patterned, comforting, cosy, fashionable, enveloping, clothing, protecting, lighter, faster, stronger and smarter.78 Many of the terms remind us features from the description of Ornament, and what Architextile is tending for, is bringing ornament from its banishment to the level of textile, and from this point to the level of tectonic, structure, aesthetics and performance. The advances in textile are with no doubt related with the invention and design of the new materials, composite materials. The issue of materiality was crucial to Semper, moreover his understanding of materials in terms of motifs lead him to conclude: Only complete technical perfection, only the judicious and proper treatment of the material according to its properties, and above all only the consideration of these properties in the act of shaping form can cause the material to be forgotten. 76 Mallgrave, Harry Francis ‘Architectural Theory: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870’ Blackwell Publishing, 2006, p536 77 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p35 78 Garcia, Mark 2006: ‘Architecture + Textiles = Architextiles’, AD Vol 76/6, p18


For Semper a textile technique like weaving only made sense because there was a stone technique like carving. The transition from one material to the other is done through motifs and meaning. This can be traced form the German word Wand [wall], paries, acknowledges its origin. The terms Wand and Gewand [dress] derive from a single root. They indicate the woven material that formed the wall.79 The material metamorphosis which was theoreticised by Goethe, was used by Semper to describe the shift of motifs from one material to the other, forming structure through tectonics. For Semper: Tectonics is an art that takes nature as a model –not nature’s concrete phenomena but the uniformity and the rules by which she exists and creates. . . .Tectonics is a truly cosmic art; the Greek word kosmos, which has no equivalent in any living language, signifies cosmic order and adornment alike. To be in harmony with the law of nature makes the adornment of an art object; where man adorns, all he does more or less consciously is to make the law of nature evident in the object he adorns.80 Influenced by Bötticher theory of Core-form and Art-Form, Semper doesn’t seam to draw distinction between Ornament and Structure but he mostly talks about motifs and elements of the same system. Treating the textile through ‘digital tectonics’, reduces the dialogue between Structure and Dressing to that of articulation and surface effect. Moreover, articulation of the architectural skin nowadays draws similarities to Semper’s own theory of textile tectonics and Bötticher theory of Kerform and Kunstform. What is articulated is the Kunstform through the textile tectonic into the Kernform. Articulation of Building Envelopes in a textile way of thinking expanded exponently through the twentieth century, with the emergence of advanced materials and technologies. Woven titanium plates in Gehry’s Bilbao Museum, is one of the examples. Weaving, a global practice that spans eras, cultures and landscapes, was reclaimed by Buckminster Fuller as a modern means of creating self-supporting, lightweight lattices. Part surface, part join, weaving is essentially a system of continuous links, and a technique that can integrate a number of operating systems into a single structure.81 Moreover, recently the woven textiles form play their part in shaping architecture form both practical and cultural point of view, and this can be seen in many of Gehry’s projects.


Mallgrave, Harry Francis ‘Architectural Theory: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870’ Blackwell Publishing, 2006, p539 80 Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004, p48 81 Quinn, Bradley 2006: ‘Textiles in Architecture’, AD Vol 76/6, p24


Frank Gehry, Bilbao Guggenheim Museum (1997) Astor Place Hotel, Manhattan, New York (1998)and Lewis Residence (1995)

The Bilbao Museum has resonance with Semper’s allusions to weaving, and dressing, especially where the ‘woven’ substructure which supports the thin ‘quilted’ titanium cladding is seen in construction images. Here the components that make the Museum’ skin are woven into the form and structure is covered, structure is there and is disappeared under the textile tectonics. The articulation of skin here is Ornament and moreover, Structure. The more flexible skeletons and structural envelopes of buildings such as Foster’s St Mary Axe and Koolhaas’s Seattle Public Library are among the most advanced versions of these new, more tension-based giant textile buildings.82 Textile, Patterns and Biological/Natural systems are becoming Paradigm for architectural design where principles are woven into materiality, and Ornament is returning from its banishment and becoming autogenic, becoming Structure.


Garcia, Mark 2006: ‘Architecture + Textiles = Architextiles’, AD Vol 76/6, p10



1. Architectural Design ‘Architextiles’ Vol 76/6, Wiley Academy, 2006 2. Architectural Design ‘Elegance’ Vol 77/1, Wiley Academy, 2007 3. Architectural Design ‘Exuberance’ Vol 80/2, Wiley Academy, 2010 4. Architectural Design ‘Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design’ Vol 76/2, Wiley Academy, 2006

5. Architectural Design ‘The Patterns of Architecture’ Wiley, 2009, AD Vol 79/6 6. Ardalan, N., 1980, “The Visual Language of Symbolic Form: A Preliminary Study of Mosque Architecture”, J.G. Katz (Ed.), Architecture as Symbol and Self-identity, Philadelphia

7. Ball, Philip ‘Nature’s Patterns’ Oxford, 2009 8. Ching, Francis D.D. ‘A Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ Canada, 1995 9. Deleuze, Gilles ‘The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque’ London, 1993 10. Douglis, Evan 'Autogenic Structures' Taylor & Francis, Oxon, 2009 11. Farrelly, Lorraine ‘Construction+Materiality’ AVA Publishing, 2009 12. Foster, Hal ‘Prosthetic gods’ MIT Press, 2004 13. Gavin Ambrose, Paul Harris & Sally Stone ‘The Visual Dictionary of Architecture’ AVA Publishing, 2008

14. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von,, ‘The Metamorphosis of Plants’, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009

15. Hartoonian, Gevork ‘Crisis of the Object: the Architecture of Theatricality’ Taylor&Francis, 2006

16. Hearn, Fil ‘Ideas that shaped the buildings’ MIT press, 2003 17. Hvattum, Maria ‘Gottfried Semper and the problem of Historicism’, Cambridge, 2004 18. Kepes, Gyorgy ‘Structure in Art and in Science’ New York, 1965 19. Kieren, Stephen & Timberlake James ‘Refabricating Architecture’ McGraw-Hill, 2004

20. LaVine, Lance ‘Mechanics and Meaning in Architecture’ Minneapolis, 2001 21. Leyton, Michael, ‘The Structure of Paintings’, Wien, 2006 22. Loos, Adolf ‘Ornament and Crime’ 1908 23. Lynn, Greg ‘Animate Form’ Princeton Architectural Press, 1998 24. Macdonald, Angus J. ‘Structure and Architecture’, Architectural Press, 2001 25. Mallgrave, Harry Francis ‘Architectural Theory: An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870’ Blackwell Publishing, 2006


26. McDonough, William & Braungart, Michael ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’, New York, 2002

27. Michelle Addington and Daniel L. Schodek ‘Smart Materials and New Technologies’ Oxford, 2005

28. Peter Fratzl, Richard Weinkamer, ‘Nature’s hierarchical materials’ Elsevier, 2007 29. Samer Akkach, ‘Cosmology and architecture in premodern Islam: an architectural reading of mystical ideas’ New York, 2005

30. Speltz, Alexander ‘Styles of Ornament’ Chicago, 1923 31. Tierney, Therese, ‘Abstract Space: Beneath the media surface’, New York, 2007 32. Winters, Edward ‘Aesthetics and Architecture’ New York, 2007 33. Wolfram, Stephen ‘A New Kind of Science’ Canada, 2002


Ornament and Structure - New Biological Paradigm