Notation + Diagrams, Stan Allen

This article brought the concept of defining the way we present architecture, the idea of diagramming, notation, and their relationships to architecture.

Allen brought the dilemma of notation our architectural drawings, by defining architecture as “a curious mixture” as Goodman said, architecture is a mix of art and science, creativity and rationality, freedom and constrains and by finding the way to notate that goes beyond seeing architecture as “scaled-down pictures of buildings”.

Architects are using diagrams as a way to balance between mathematics, as where they describe abstract quantities, and the art of form, which is the variable aspect in architecture. Using diagrams as tool for clarification or explanation in architecture started evolving and occupying a new position as type of architecture.

 Architect sees notation as “…  Inputs and outputs may be distinct in character.  They designate and reproduce new configurations of time and space by of a system that has its own logic” (Allen, 42-43).  As such, notation works as an approach that resembles a condition of reality, and having a “system that has its own internal logic”, at the end, the real and virtual will combined in the way we present our drawings.

 Then he started to distinguish between diagrams and notation. First, by defining Diagram as a graphic tool with formal implications, “a figure drawn in a manner that the geometrical relations between parts of the figure illustrate relations between objects” James Clark Maxwell, “the diagram is the graphic assemblage that specifies relationship between activity and form” (Allan 51). In other hand, notations participate in shared notions of interpretation, they are not necessarily visual. So Diagrams, contrary to notation, specifies relationships between various aspects of building. 

 Then he introduced the concept of diagram architecture. This is an architecture that relates to the idea of the diagram in a way that adopts the principles of diagramming “…is an architecture that establishes a loose fit of program and form…” (Allen 54).   

 Finally, Allen discusses the concept of the illegible city.  If we describe the city as a complex system, in a way we are unable to read the context of the contemporary urban. We must be able to develop tools to describe these inherent complexities, by doing so, will inherent our diagrammatic control.


If drawings and notations depends on the author and diagrams are the relationship between objects, relationship between the form and activities, how can the architects “the authors” know when the diagram is efficient and expressive?

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Violence of Architecture, Burnard Tschumi

The theory of architecture is a theory of orders under the mechanism of their uses, these uses defined by the actions accompanying the spaces, or the spaces that contain these actions, these actions come from the confrontation between objects and there users, that will inevitably define Violence.

 This violence can be defined as the relationship between the space and its users, this comes from the intrusion of human activities into the surrounding space and verse versa, this intrusion is invertible, essential, and it might be the inherent necessity that is aimed by architects to be found in their buildings and designs.

The violence is a metaphor for the force that result from having this intrusion ; it is fundamental and unavoidable to define the link between spaces and their events, the interaction between these events and spaces is present whether this relationship is harmonious or imposed, in each way it define the  space, the building, or the design connected to it.

There are deferent kinds of violence depend on the dominant ion of one force upon the other, The Violence of the individuals on spaces, and the violence of the physical spaces on their users, each violence can be symmetrical or asymmetrical depending on the way it implies on the context and which one molds the other.

It could be symmetrical when the architectural spaces or the bodies that entering these spaces desire this intruding presence and adopt it, like the bodies that rush into the unexpected spaces and define desirable motion through the controlled order of architecture.

And it can be asymmetrical when the relationship between the spaces and their users stimulate a strange desire, like using of undesirable, super imposed factors to the architectural spaces that become an obstacle in the flow of motion, or by using formless spaces leading to psychological destructuring.

In a way architects can aim to have this violence to be a desirable unique way of defining their spaces, so these bodies will ask to enter these spaces over and over again, but the cruel imitations of this violence can lead to acts that have escaped control and become a ritual implies transgression of bodies in spaces.

To determine the relationship between spaces and the events, we need to describe a formal series of proceedings or a program, this program interact with spaces and their events, and when each one independent of one another, one can set a strategy that define the logic behind the spaces and the logic behind the events.

 The actions behind this relationships can be driven to each direction, space or motion, depends on the power that set this direction, but sometimes it sit in the middle, that occurs when each action does not trigger the other, the event reformed by the space and vice versa, so each action will adopt new meaning and will not struggle to be the dominant but in a way or another it will effect one another in a peaceful way, by reaching that, we will inherit a new concept of violence into the architecture mechanism that has the possibility to regenerate itself reliant on the new adopted action which may initiate a new style .

Architects should set new strategies, determine every architectural decision, if that applicable, determine the user’s attitude, and to defining the relationship between architecture, spaces, and program then shape this relationship to become totally interdependent to condition each other’s existence.

Questions :

  • How to define the dominant aspect, is it the space or the bodies and how can we determine the power that change the direction to the dominant control?
  • How to control our design and make this control absolute?


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Practice: Architecture thechnique + representation, Stan Allen


Stan Allen addresses the urban fabric by comprising the old and new cities in which the new ones are more civic and urbanized, but according to this definition, these urbanized cities are in the conflicts of having new concepts and strategies to be able to comprehend the new implementations “Our idea of the city today needs to encompass the procedures and protocols of popular culture, digital technologies, urban infrastructure…etc.” (Allen, 159).

Organized urban complexity is among these conflicts, as a result of lacking stability, losing identity, local discontinuity and having unbalance development. Modern Metropolis is the most concentrated artefact that generates industrial production, disintegration of public spaces, and unbalance ecological systems.

As a way to adapt these changings, underplay these conflicts, and manage to live in this chaos we need to read the complexity of the Metropolis as more as, first, “organizational diagram with embedded structure” (Allen 172), second, a network of ecological information, and third, as “a technical device, and he wants to know how it works” (Allen 172).

Reaching to this ecological cities means that these cities will be able to develop unpredictable adjustments, and can emerge through recursive procedures. And these cities could be understood as an assemblage of data and forces, operating in complex web that function ecologically.

Then he discuss the way of organizing the pattern of change by suggesting new networking strategies between landscape, architecture, and urbanism. This can happen by adopting the concept of diagram systems, in a way, these cities would encompass structure, functioning, and change.

Our cities are complicated and changeable how can we Underlie orders for our contemporary cites, and how can these cities meditate between change and consistency?




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Architecture, Ecological Design, And Human Ecology. David Orr


The problem of human ecology has a fundamental trait, it is the disproportionate between human intention and ecological impacts, the natural world is continually modified by human behaviour and the level of ecological results has increased with the level of civilization, and by doing so, we are facing clash between the growing population and the ecological capacity, the problem of ecological design is not whether we are  having a design strategy or not, but whether it work ecologically or not, and if we can sustained within the changing capacity of the ecosystem.

Unfolding the existing patterns of human ecology cannot be changed by repeating old mistakes in a new more sophisticated and powerful ways. It is the need for deeper change that can happen by, first, widen the gauge of thinking, by broadened the implications for education, this means including ethics, ecology, analysis, and further considerations for all the environmental aspects in our fundamental pedagogical.

Educating ourselves ecologically means ground our understanding of culture and nature, having recognition between architecture and landscape and having a larger understanding for relationship between our environment and people, knowing that architecture and design are pedagogical.

This idea goes beyond the concept of managing the planet, it is managing human behaviors when they using advanced technologies, and preserves the physical and biotic environment. The current pattern of technology is shifting human evolution in different directions and will raise tide of unexpected consequences.

Using approaches that minimize environmentally destructive impact can accomplish by; integrating with living processes is the main impact of the right ecological design, scanning the human purposes with the environmental patterns, framing these approaches by adopting the natural strategies, and finding a new field of industrial ecology by attempting to reflect the way ecosystem work and mimic the natural systems that exist there.

The greatest challenge is to transform the human intentions, and it might be the first signal of the right ecological design, changing human intention means changing in political, economic, and institutional structure. That can happen by:

  • Building deeper sense of connection and obligation with our environment
  • Searching for genuine religion, having more serious but modest view of our possibilities and potentials.
  • Developing the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.
  • Having the knowledge about the ecological effects so the design implications are more complete, humble, and rational in ecological aspects that will work over long terms.
  • “ must aim to foster a deeper transformation in human intentions and the political and economic institutions that turn intentions into ecological results”

After these transformation and having the new strategies for reaching the design revolution which should fit gracefully over long periods of time, the main ecological design principles can defined by:

  • Having a greater harmony between intention and places in which serve over long periods of time ecologically, socially, and in cultural context.
  • Make decent communities in which each one is responsible of improving his desires and accommodate them to be more efficient with the ecological system.
  • Knowing that  design results are the outcome of the negotiation between a community and the ecology of particular places, “ Good design results in communities in which feedback between action and subsequent corrections is rapid”
  • Making ecological design begins with understanding the connections between health and nature, beginning with the soil and extending upward through plants, animals, and people.
  • Knowing that Ecological design is to understand the world rules and knowing that they are  not random actions but a complicated web of patterns stitched together in each direction.

The ecological strategies are the way human mind interact with his environment and specifically its capacity for wonder and appreciation, it should become a kind of public pedagogy built into the structure of daily life. The main idea and the most difficult part of reaching our goal of having ecological designs is to calibrate human behavior with ecological realities while educating people about ecological possibilities and limits, we are instructed by the fabric of everyday life infrastructure which in turn inform us, so by designing our communities ecologically  that will become a way to teach us about landscape, land use, human connections, and a way to expand our awareness of nature and our ecological competence.

Our response has been to create distractions and addictive behaviors that cut the human being off from the cycle of nature. Ecological design is the art that reconnect us as creatures to our unrevealed world, it embrace spirit, body, and mind, making things that fit harmoniously in our ecological, cultural, and moral context.

Ecological design is about changing system, patterns, and connections at the same time preserve our nature and environment.



  • How can we change the human intentions in a practical efficient way?
  • If we can change the system to be more ecological by adopting new strategies and new designs, what will happen to the existing systems and infrastructures that might be obstacle in our way?
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