Typology and Morphology

14 – “The Discourse on Nature” – Michael Foucault

In “The Discourse on Nature,” Michael Foucault argues that “The theory of natural history cannot be dissociated from that of language” (Pg.157). The relationship between language and natural history is a fundamental arrangement of knowledge and represent them in a system of names. The author describe the priori that: “a priori is what, in a given period, delimits in the totality of experience a field of knowledge, defines the mode of being of the objects that appear in that field, provides man’s everyday perception with theoretical power, and defines the conditions in which he can sustain a discourse about things that is recognized to be true” (Pg.158).

Natural history is contemporaneous with language –“Classification and speech have their place of origin in the same space that representation opens up within itself because it is consecrated to time, to memory, to reflection, to continuity” (Pg.158). Classification is essential to our understanding of the natural history. This guides us to understand how the natural history interacts with language. Between the language and the theory of nature there exists a relation that is of critical type. And the critical question did link to the form of determinate knowledge. The form can exist according to the natural history and its classification of language.

1. Foucault argues that the relation between language and natural history. How did both of them affect the architectural theories?
2. How does the Classification relate to the form of architecture?


13 – “Prologue to On Growth and Form” – D’Arcy Thompson

In this article, Thompson discusses Growth and Form in relation to the research of organisms form.
The form can be explained by physical considerations and to understand that there is no organic forms exist save such as are in conformity with physical and mathematical laws. Thompson introduces force to explore the notion of form. D’Arcy Thompson describes Force that: “Force is the appropriate term for our conception of the causes by which there forms and changes of form are brought about” (Pg.11).  The form of an object is a “diagram of force”. To illustrate this point, Thompson used the amoeba as an example.

After exploring the amoeba as a precedent, I can’t help thinking how flexible and lithe are the space of building. We always talk about the sustainable design and multitask of space. However, the sustainable space and multitask space are depend on how the space can be flexible and lithe. The natural form could give us great precedents to study the static building and dynamic space. Furthermore, the environment should be considered more as the context form of building. The article of Growth and Form is not just a discussion of forces and forms, but also how the natural elements reflect to the architecture in alternative ways. And how would the multi-aspects that maybe environmental, technological, and sociological factors form the new architectural theories.

1. How does the form or force to build the study model for the architectural design?
2. Can we say that the urban pattern more look like the natural form than architecture? 


12 – “Metabolism and Morphology” – Michael Weinstock

I can imagine the clearly structural diagram of some leaves and cells. This article bring me into a microcosmic natural systems that I felt as if I have saw those structural elements in real world before. Explaining the process and methods of energy transformation and transportation, the author tried to connect the features of the natural entities with the architectural form.

There are some interesting points that dawn on me about the relationship of the natural systems and the architectural systems. First, the flow of energy through all living form is often through a food chain or web, and human being stay at the top of this chain or web. From the herbivore and carnivores to microbes and fungi, at each level of food chain, energy is used up only a small percentage of the energy available at one lever and transferred to the next level. However, human beings are at the top of this chain and consume the most of the energy but transferred or returned nothing to the nature. I cannot help thinking whether we are the member of the nature or the colonist of the earth.

Second, “It is generally observed that the rate of energy consumption per unit of body mass declines as the body size increases” (Pg.28). We just are at middle level of body mass in the natural entities. Why do we consume the more energy than other life-forms? In energy utilization, our buildings are less effective than the lower animal’s shell or cave. Are we not smarter than those shellfishes and insects?

Third, the architects are coming to learn from the nature and imitate the natural structure. I wonder what the key points should learn from the nature – the form or the interrelation with the context. I agree with what Weinstock said – “relates pattern and process, form and behavior, with spatial and cultural parameters, has a symbiotic relationship with the natural world” (Pg.33).

We can adsorb all kinds of form or something from the nature. It is the most important that we rightly use those concepts to architecture in same surroundings of local biology survived.
1. What is the most obstruction of learning from the nature, technology or ideology?
2. Do the endotherms have less efficiency of energy utilization than the poikilotherms? What can we learn from both of them?


11 – “On the Typology of Architecture”-Giulio Carlo Argan

Argan challenged the modern critics who deny the availability of architectural typology. The author indicated three main categories of architectural typologies: “a complete configuration of buildings, major structural elements, and decorative elements.” And use the longitudinally planned buildings the flat or domed roofs, and orders o columns as evidences to support those three categories’ effect in architectural typologies.

The author considered that a “type” is chosen by the practice or theory of architecture and it rooted in the existence of a series of buildings which has obvious formal and functional analogy. The “type” formed through a process of abstracting a complex of formal variants to achieve a common root form. This process lay on its historical and aesthetic function.

Architectural “type” are imitated in many individual projects but we cannot deny that the “type” as the start point of the creative process. However, the “type” ineluctably leads to the problem of the relation between artistic creation and historical experience. The international style clones countless and semblable boxes distributing all over the world.

The modern religious and industrial architecture as the important instances indicate that the typology of architecture is continuous and interlaced in the inventive aspect of the creative process.


1. If the typology of architecture helps us build the base of creative working, how we can avoid falling into the past historical repetition?
2. Is the “Type” a recurrent process from reducing to manifolding?


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