Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/28753
- Ethics and geometry: computational transformations and the curved surface in architecture
Ostwald, Michael J.
- In recent years the development of computational algorithms for the transformation of shapes has made the process of producing curvilinear forms deceptively simple. Even the most banal CAD program can generate complex three dimensional shapes, and associated building designs, without the designer having to display any detailed knowledge of geometry or indeed the history of similar forms and their relative successes and failures. This paper asks whether such a situation in innately problematic or not? The production of intricate architectural forms has historically occurred in an environment that is aware of the cultural, political or symbolic importance of the curved form. For example the archetypal Baroque compound curve found in the facade Borromini's S. Carlo alle Quattro Fontane has both regular sinusoidal flowing surfaces along with more dynamic syncopated curves constructed of broken oval segments. Such curves responded to the social, symbolic and phenomenological needs of the era and indeed, because of this, can be seen to have an ethical function (as argued by critics such as Ruskin or more recently Harries). The paper analyses a series of recent examples and experiments which have employed computer generated curvilinear geometric forms to interrogate the extent to which such architectural techniques, which rely on geometric transformation, can be seen as having and ethical foundation. Through this analysis the paper argues for the importance of geometry in architecture as being more than simply a formal tool, but rather a device which has wider significance and more important properties and potentialities.
- Nexus VI: Architecture and Mathematics p. 77-92
- Kim Williams Books
transformation of shapes;
- Resource Type
- book chapter