Reading 9 – Collins

Organic architecture has been a characteristically appropriate morphological process since its development as a typology within the architectural practice. To what degree architecture should rely on biological processes today is debatable. In Collins’ The Biological Analogy, the history of architectural expression through biology is presented as a “sum of functions,” in the same way organic life was first considered. But the argument that remains consistent and prevalent throughout is the tired consideration of whether form follows function or function follows form. It seems that it was first presented by Lamarack when he argued “It is not the organs – that is to say, the form and character of the animals bodily parts – which have given rise to peculiar properties, but, on the contrary, it is its habits and manner of life and the conditions in which its ancestors lived that has in the course of time fashioned its bodily form, its organs and its qualities.” Lamarack’s first attempt at defining morphology, its affect on the development of form and function, is an intriguing push towards a process which may help to outline new ideas in the metaphysical growth of ontology. It is stepping outside of the contemporary boundaries of creationism and supposing that, at one time, humans were not quite the same animals, with the same functions. Of course at that time there may have not been an understanding of the scale of time required for this morphological process to take place. Darwin’s argument, on the contrary, was that these morphologies were “arbitrary and accidental.” This is where evolution breaks from architecture, as change in the practice is often immediate and drastic in character, with delineated and obvious intent. This is not to say that this change is wholly adopted by the public and often, as Darwin supposes, the useless or ineffective changes are discarded. But as Collins later admits, these biological tendencies may not necessarily be suitable for the human built environment. While nature has taught us to reject the forces which do not best serve us, “the study of plants and animals can do little to help us evolve forms appropriate to conditions today.”


About jasonsedar

My final year of architecture school at the University of Calgary!
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