From the Ideal to the Uncertain

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While mathematics in architecture has historically referenced notions of order, proportion, and ideal form, the discipline of mathematics itself has shifted to encompass Uncertainty, Incompleteness, Relativity, and Chaos, moving towards a situation in which truth itself is elusive. This adjustment emerged in part from an engagement with real phenomena, in which natural systems were shown to behave non-linearly and unpredictably.

In Architecture, while computational developments enabling dynamic and variable modeling have been subsumed into our culture of design and production, perhaps a new kind of idealism has emerged. Formally prolific and inherently multiplicitous, this new idealism proposes algorithmic truth and statistical outcomes over predetermined objectives; it signifies a retreat away from reality and back towards simulation in the smooth space of possibility.

Meanwhile, the consequences of uncertainty have pervaded our culture to its core. Recovering from the initial high of fractal and random geometrical proficiency, architecture is just beginning to (re)embrace the underlying issues embedded within this contemporary mathematics: uncertainty, unpredictability, chance, recursion, and informality.

with contributions from:
Val Warke
James Siena
Jenny E. Sabin
Francois Roche
Caroline O’Donnell
Archie B. MacKenzie
Mark Morris
Maria Hurtado de Mendoza
Tom Fecht
Dana Čupková + Kevin Pratt
Gang Chen
Mario Carpo
Bernard Cache
Gisela Baurmann + Daina Taimina
Joseph Choma
Michael Young
and interviews with:
Jerry Wells + Arthur Ovaska
Anthony Vidler
Shohei Shigematsu