SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 
 número87On Space Time Foam, Milán, Italia.: Tomás Saraceno, 2012Torre Antena Santiago, cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago, Chile: Smiljan Radic, Gabriela Medrano, Ricardo Serpell, 2014 índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados

Revista

Articulo

Indicadores

Links relacionados

  • En proceso de indezaciónCitado por Google
  • No hay articulos similaresSimilares en SciELO
  • En proceso de indezaciónSimilares en Google

Compartir


ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.87 Santiago ago. 2014

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962014000200004 

READINGS

 

Tensegrity as critical to the abuse of stable forms

  

Rafael Beneytez*(1), Víctor Manuel Cano*(2)

* Professor, ETSAM, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


Abstract

Sloterdijk discussed the links between paradigms of static and State; that would be a key reference to understand connections between a structural logic that depends on the existence of balanced interdependencies and open and non-hierarchical social schemes.

Keywords: Architecture - Theory, nomotop, metastability, tensegrity, presostatics.


 

Air and Tension or the Democracy of the Clouds

In the societies of the Dogon country, in Mali, exists "the house of the word" or Toguna. The Toguna is the place where the village wise men and elders meet daily to discuss business and later tell stories and establish rules. The architecture that represents this program is a structure of pillars with a flat roof covered by eight thick layers of thatch that represent the eight ancestors of the Dogon people (fig. 1). The Toguna is the place of rules and regulations as the oral tradition is the only way to transmit the laws that maintain the social balance in the Dogon world(1). These recipes are the peculiarity of the human world. Each member is subject to them as they are the rites and laws that remain while the mortal come and go. This structure of rules that the wise men define is the guideline for social action and is also known as "nomotopo." A neologism used by various authors of contemporary thought and has special interest, as claimed by this article, through the ideas of Peter Sloterdijk.

Fig. 1. Toguna or House of the Word. Malí, 2006. Photography by Darío Menasce.

For Peter Sloterdijk, philosopher and professor at the School of Art and Design in Karlsruhe, all of modern construction metaphorically resembles a construction of spheres. This is how he presents the modern world in his Spheres trilogy, a monumental three-volume work, where the sphere as a geometric, formal and superficial structure dominates all the presented ideas. For this, minted in a series of finished neologisms in the word "sphere," the ideas planted reflect on the thematic organization of the modes of modern knowledge. In Spheres III, the last volume, he presents the world as a purely human idea under the neologism anthropsphere that refers to the man inserted into the construction we call world.

According to Sloterdijk this human being relates to the world through nine dimensions that designates topoi and that describe how the man interacts with it from his physicality to his psychology, from his individuality to his collectivity, from his relationship with the environment to his political constructions. Through these, he systematically covers every corner of modern history, remembers ancient histories and projects us toward a future lit by a recent past filled with fascinating events. Of the nine topoi(2), the one that most interests us most to probe is the nomotop that "reciprocally links the coexisting for common ‘customs’ through labor divisions and mutual expectations that through exchange and maintaining cooperation an imaginary tensegrity appears, a social architecture composes of social expectations, constraints and mutual resistances, in short: a first constitution" (Sloterdijk, 2004, p. 280).

In this brief definition, democracy is one of the forms of political construction in which the idea of "tensegrity" achieves a special value because its greatest interest lies in maintaining the continuity between all individuals regardless of their status and social class (figs. 2 and 3). Notice that such continuity is produced through a field of relationships between individuals that participate in a unified and unifying group. Flocks of birds, schools of fish and banks of clouds, while meteorological instruments, are formal expressions whose main argument is inscribed in a range of reciprocal relationships in the interior of a system that, without being tensegrity structures exactly, anticipate a higher value over the value of its formal appearance. From here, the tensegrities are structures of relationships whose formal expressions are legible by analyzing the behavior of the elements organized as a system. Systems composed by both the sum of isolated particles as by the sum of particles pertaining to a group in which they actively participate (fig. 4).

Fig. 2. Map of the flight of Rudolf Vbra and Alfred Wetzler in Auschwitz­Birkenau: spatial situations based on the understanding and visualization of related structures and the tension of the bodies in space.
Drawing by Víctor Manuel Cano, 2013.

Fig. 3. Mapping of the sonderkommandos revolt in Auschwitz­Birkenau.
Drawing by Víctor Manuel Cano, 2013.

 

Fig. 4. Fig. 4. Flock of starlings. Rome. Italy. 2008.
Source: author’s files.

 

Societies are the first structures, systems or assemblies that need a clear sense of order. They lean toward the continuous organization of a stabilized system under which the collective, accompanied by an atmosphere of tension, is able to act jointly in a role of checks and balances to maintain balance. However, the logics of form representing them both in the field of science and explicitly in architecture were late in rising to the task of such a systemic construction. They only appeared at the moment in which the art and ideas came together in the pressostatic structures and tensegrity structures, where a continuous and adjustable force maintains the minimum tension of the group that causes balance to prevail. When this force dissipates, all the structural organization will vanish into thin air. In pressostatic structures (fig. 5) it is the air that has the dual function of life agent and structural realm. In some ways, it represents what we could call a breathable structure, or perhaps, way of life with the possibility of creating a self-sustaining structure. The case of tensegrity(3) is a regulative principle of the tensile and compressive energy stored within a lattice of vectors and forces that stabilize the formal assembly. The existence of an internal tension produces a state of equilibrium. This structural form is solved with a lattice of rods and cables whose spatial organization, under certain rules of order, maintains a global balance without exception so that each element works in solidarity with the entire system. The similarity of these principles with the order of the social structures (even the most ancient, like those of the Dogon people) plays an important part in maintaining stability by adapting to the mobile, just as Sloterdijk presents it.

Fig. 5. Photogram of Mirror, Andrey Tarkovsky, 1974.
Source: http://revistacruce.com/artes/hacia-un-verdadero-cine-poetico.html

These paradigmatic forms that would appear at the beginning of the 1920’s would simultaneously illuminate the relationship between the state and statics in the case of Karl Ioganson. It would also be visible in the work of Kenneth Snelson and Buckminster Fuller around the same time. However, what is most valuable in the case of Ioganson is the narrow relationship between the State political situation and the new concepts in statics(4). Until then, the formal repertoire of statics was limited to structures with a strong gravitational component and low potential energy.

In 1920 the collective pursuit of the service of art and technique to the revolutionary spirit in the context of the soviet vkhutemas (Professional, Artistic and Technical State Studios) offered an alternative to classical statics: spatial structures that by strengthening the constructivist debate created a countering image of lightness and collectivity to that of the material weight representing the tsarist aristocracy(5). After working intensely on the problem and several exhibits, Karl Ioganson proposed a series of sculptures, called spatial constructions, which would include the tensegrity structure. Post-revolutionary Russia was driven on the technical path of architecture and engineering construction as a metaphor of the new social structures desired with a strong collective and collaborative feeling that fled a world of severe rules. These rules ended in the starvation of the people and the beginning of the Russian Revolution in February of 1917. The strong will to rebuild a system of rules and laws put special emphasis on the art of production. Lenin, implicated in the economic reconstruction, dictated patterns for reconfiguring the national production forces with a clear impetus for change. The reflection of such patterns transformed the educational institutions with a laborious critical revision process of the meaning of art and technique beginning with the School of Arts and Crafts and ending with elementary education and the vkhutemas. These schools functioned for almost a decade as a self-regulated teaching structure supported by a developing and intensely reckless activity(6). In this context, it must be noted that the value acquired by the Russian Revolution paradigm is precisely that both the state and statics had a mutual reflection of intense interaction that ended with the offer of the tensegrity paradigm.

Sloterdijk insists in this relationship between the paradigms of statics and the state, or to say another way, in the intimate relationship between tensegrity and social-political organization, and stresses the concepts mentioned by Pierre Legendre, a philosopher of law and psychoanalyst, born in France in 1930. Legendre speaks "of the law and the state as magnitudes that can only be sustained by a moral scaffolding or standardized construction (échafaudage, montage)". The common etymological origin of the words "static" and "state" allows us to speak of both as construction arts: the construction of laws and the construction of buildings. When the patterns of social order are established, the empathy maintained with tensegrity or presostatic forms comes from understanding the existence of reciprocal forces; forces organized as a group or laws that are necessary to create equilibrium. In these forms, a repetitive pressure could place each member under the same threshold of stress that, in our view, is expressed in the reciprocity of burdens and rights, as in the responsibilities for the balance of the political, ethical and moral system. Highlighting the relationship between collective burden or stress with the idea of culture stifles the freedom of the individual collaborator; this is a submission to group laws without space for any laxity within minimum ratios or tolerable maximums. Without this condition neither statics nor states can exist. In the case of tensegrity structures as static paradigms, they will not remain upright, and in the case of socio-political structures, they will not be appeased.(7)

For all the above, the conclusion indicates that belonging to a tensegrity unit is to be in touch with the tensions received, coordinately and cooperatively sensitized with the systemic whole and to be capable of reacting to the group tension. A deformation of global balance and/or collective order implies that someone is relaxing and someone is overworking. A state of overwork on the part of some members leads to an increasing rigidity that risks the integrity of the whole with the rupture of the overloaded elements. For the case of statics, when this increase in rigidity is produced, one can also observe the formal expression of such over-effort through the formal appearance of the built whole.

Conformation, meta-stability and organless body

The Swiss artist, Paul Klee, had an unusual sensitivity to nature that, from his perception, never stopped moving. Klee said that nature was a great vehicle. This, in constant movement, was exemplified in his paintings and puppets through the rolling waves, the growth of plants, the genesis of a sound or through the stresses of the tight-rope walker as he walks through the clouds (fig. 6). In 1924, in his Elemental creative theory, he introduces the concept of conformation(8) that has a vital importance for the understanding of his work where he supports his ideas on the instability of form and the perpetual movement of things. The conformation could be explained as the constant process of the evolution of form. This means that the form is not static but is produced taking time and becoming into account. During his time as a Bauhaus master, he emphasized drawing to covey the evolution of form (Klee, 2013). Form ceases to be a mere silhouette or stable outline to be a process of transformation in time and sensitive to all scales.

Fig. 6. Seiltänzer (balancer). Lithograph, 43,2 x 26,8 cm, Paul Klee, 1923.
Source: Zentrum Paul Klee, Berna.

Finally, Klee explains it very directly:

The shape determines the form and therefore is above it. Thus, the form should never nor in any place (...) be considered as a result, a finish, but a genesis, an evolution. Good is conformation. Bad is the form, the form is final, is death. Conformation is movement, is action. Conformation is life. (Klee, 2013, p. 56).

Moreover, Gilbert Simondon, French philosopher, addressed the stability problem from the fields of physics, chemistry and biology and thereby developed his doctoral thesis Individuation in Light of the Notions of Form and Information published in 1955. The text addresses the theme of individuation, an old problem in art and philosophy defined as that which makes an individual thing completely unique (Simondon, 2009). Thus, Simondon proposed a Pharaonic challenge: attempt to explain how things "become." He began by making a critique of Aristotle’s hylomorphic scheme: Simondon found it to have limitations. The accidental collision between matter and form did not convince him. For him, accidents did not exist. He fervently believed in the art and order of energy processes. Therefore, in this Aristotelian duality, where only matter and form would exist during the individuation process, he introduces the notion of energy. So we could say that individuation is formed by the relationship between matter, form and energy.

At this point we can present the concept of metastability. Simondon explains that "(the individuation) has not been thought out and described adequately due to that we know of only a single form of equilibrium, the stable equilibrium; we are unaware of a metastable equilibrium; it was implicitly assumed that the being was in a state of stable equilibrium; however, the stable equilibrium excludes the future (…)" (Simondon, 2009, p. 28). From this position new systems of equilibrium can be conceived, systems that escape from the dualist scheme of movement/ rest and stable/unstable, to open a field of possibilities of evolutionary states of being. This critique of classic stability introduces a series of notions like the "potential energy of a system, the notion of order and the increase of entropy" (Simondon, 2009, p. 28)(9). We can begin to assess the dynamic processes themselves rather than the outcomes.

Metastability allows us to understand that states of form are neither definitive nor isolated. If we look at the stained glass of the gothic cathedrals, we will see that they are wider at the lowest part. Even glass, a symbol of perfect form and balance, is not eternally stable. It flows over time. Glass is metastable and, as such, achieves different states of equilibrium over time. Perhaps what is most interesting in this image, applying it to the problem of representing tensegrity, is the idea of considering a metastable system, loaded with potential, explains itself as a group in which matter, form and energy preexist in the system and evolve over time.

In this system there is a global conception of the group that implies an internal and continuous resonance between all of its elements. The idea of considering them separate results from a practice of the modern method which tends to continually separate the elements that make up the systems, but this individuation principle cries out to rejoin and, as such, for a global and continuous consideration. Because if the qualities of one are codified or informed by the possibilities of the other and vice versa, one must consider the existence of a capacitating energy of movement or state change for it to leave its inert state(10). In metastability the being is understood as a process and not as a stable form.

Gilbert Simondon(11) proposes that the metastability idea is found in the simple molding of a block of clay. For him, the formation of a brick is far from the being represented by the Aristotelian duality between matter and form. Simondon presents a beautiful metaphor: the hylomorphic scheme would be one that a man perceives from outside the studio, so he only sees the beginning and end of the process, the step from clay to brick. And in fact, to understand metastability, it is not enough to go into the factory and work with the craftsman but to enter the mold itself (Simondon, 2009). Clay is a material with the ability to be molded, to allow displacement in its composition. However, upon being modeled, it does not suffer arbitrary displacement but its plasticity is ordered according to defined forces that establish the deformation. Now we understand Simondon’s critique of Aristotle. There is no accidental collision. There is nothing arbitrary. Everything requires a precise and rigorous order. A precise order that, as with tensegrity, is a basic and fundamental principle. The composite structure of clay is crystalline(12) and composed of "infinite" tetrahedral sheets that are interrelated and can be analyzed from a tensegrity point of view (fig. 7).

Fig. 7. Different states of tension and configurations of the crystalline structure of clay.
Source: author’s files.

Brick is apparently stable, but from its genesis it acquires the notion of plasticity. All matter is a deformable reality, i.e. a reality that is not a defined form but all undefined forms together and dynamically because forces are being deposited in it constantly. But it is not enough that the clay is plastic, it needs a worker to apply force to the mass, force that the clay will distribute to each sheet in relation to the other. Everything changes position, fills the mold, activating potential energy. The mold does not impose the form but stabilizes it. The relationship between the clay particles is almost as strong as the relationship of the clay to the wall.

For complete compression, it must be emphasized that the mold does not impose, as it is not a relationship between inert matter and form that comes from outside, but is a process based on the positive communication, as a particle society, in reciprocal interaction. In a determined moment the limit will appear, i.e. the mold that creates the impossibility of displacement in a determined direction. Let us suppose that the brick is dried by the heat and is formed; the metastability has found one of its possible states of equilibrium. What has really happened is that one of its forces has been annulled. The clay after being molded is the mass in which all the deformation forces are found, in all parts, equal and opposite forces that balance them. Thanks to the metastability of the system, it can be guaranteed that this performance between energy, matter and form has achieved one of the final possible forms where any action had an impact on all the others. That is, the evolution of each molecule impacts the future of all points in all directions. The molding of a block of clay and the manufacture of a brick are expressed in this text as a paradigm of a complex and metastable state of tension.

Through the brick we have seen how Simondon addresses the origin of physical objects, but we will also study the individuation of living beings. For Simondon, the living implies a notion of interiority. The interiority understood as those forces that each living thing carries within; these are forces that are in constant movement, continuously making up our body, at every moment. Something like a constant individuation in time and evolution. Evolution is a transformation, a process of state change that never ends. The notions of interiority and evolution leads us to the brightest student of Simonson, also a French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze. While Simondon makes his point on "metastability" from the physical perspective, Deleuze makes his from the field of art.

Gilles Deleuze taught classes and forms part of the revolution that took place in the Parisian university of Vincennes. The Vincennes experiment center opened its doors in 1968 to reinvent a university education model that was represented only by the old Sorbonne. It was opened in December 7, 1969 as an intellectual safe haven with the intention of meeting the expectations for the changes that never took place in Paris in May of ’68. Vincennes was like a self-managed educational utopia based on the reciprocal efforts of students and teachers. It was a tense system where its existence was reduced to the solidarity, coexistence and democracy of all the parts. There was no entrance exam for admission nor tests, and self-evaluation was encouraged. The professor avoided lectures to be the advisor of a collective work and the students freely chose the subject matter. The instructor’s proposals were also discussed here. In short, it was an open system capable of adapting to constant variation. In Vincennes the most innovative and radical thinkers of the time coalesced; Michael Foucauly, Gilles Deleuze, François Lyotard, Jacques Lacan, Michael Serres and Nicos Poulantzas.

Gilles Deleuze was a philosopher enamored with life, leaving static objects aside to focus on bodies. Bodies fascinated him, because they never stopped moving. He critiqued the stable forms as bodies without organs. When Deleuze uses this complex term, he is making a critique not so much of the function of the organs in the body but of the organization of them, to stable forms, to the order and the predictable function that the organs follow in the varied functions of the body. Let us say that this order, this rigid establishment of the organism’s way of being, is most certainly detestable for the French philosopher.

Deleuze published an essay on the body without organs in the book A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. The header image of the text is that of a Dogon egg which he explains as a space of intensities (fig. 8). The body without organs to which Deleuze refers to is an egg. It is a place full of potential without yet a stable form, where everything is tensile forces, energies and multiplicities. The body without organs ignores the substance and the form, basing itself on "the relationships of speed and slowness between unformed elements, and in the compositions of intensive corresponding affections" (Deleuze, 1988, p. 561).

Fig. 8. Dogon Egg. Place of intensities.
Source: author’s files.

From the field of art, Paul Klee also discusses the egg as a place of potential: "What is the egg. It is clearly a square. The square is an egg, the matrix of the dimensions" (Deleuze, 2007, p. 40). The matrix is understood as a place where the dimensions are born, i.e. where that which can be measured but as yet there is nothing. As a metastable body, the egg is where all these internal tensions that make up the individuation process are found. From this idea, it is perhaps easier to understand Paul Klee’s maxim on art: "It is not to reproduce the visible, it is about making it visible". And what is the invisible for Klee? The invisible are forces and energies, and for Klee this is all very obvious. Let’s look what he says in his book The Theory of Modern Art: "(Where do you get so much energy? Vain question from a simpleton). ‘Peace on earth’ is an accidental pause in the movement of matter. To have this fixation of a first reality is pure illusion, [...]" (Klee, 1976, p. 59). Deleuze finds these invisible forces in the work of Michelangelo and he writes: "Now, what does it mean to paint the broad back of a man? It is not painting a back, but painting the forces exerted on a back or the forces the back exerts. It is painting forces, not forms" (Deleuze, 2007, p. 71). These words also allude to the Irish painter, Francis Bacon (1909-1992), whose work was one of Deleuze’s main weaknesses. Bacon paints forces and bodies, bodies that are sensitive (hypersensitive) to the forces around them. Bacon’s paintings are not mere stable figures, but bodies(13), understanding the body as a place where internal and external forces are applied, the matrix, the egg. Body situated in evolution and formed by it.

Again, the story argues how the stable form is threatened in favor of a living capacity of the form, away from molds or limits. The form is not drawn (built). The tensions (forces and energies) affect the body. Bacon is passionate about sleeping bodies; where no forces appear to exist, as if they could be seen, Bacon paints them.

Listening Tree or Ode to Failure

The ideas unfolded along the previous points have established relationships between philosophical thought, aesthetics, statics, state and energy, as well as enthusiastically praise the empathy of its possibilities for formal relationship. The same concept and descriptive details have cleared up the existing relationships between the various spheres of knowledge, and some have been used to explain the others. Finally, in this article, tensegrity is used as an idea that is expressed efficiently in both the technique of erecting structures to the constitution of the State. Both coincide with the idea of potential energy that Gilbery Simondon developed to explain the scope of metastability as an intermediate point between the stable and the unstable. The idea of metastability aids in thinking of tensegrity with more tools, better concepts and greater thematic diversity because the metastable balance is a transitory state of stabilities.

On the contrary, to think of tensegrity from the paradigm of stability and not from metastability, reduces it into a field that fails to incorporate sensitivity to the transitory state in which this load composition, tensions and the internal activity of the system are assembled. Perhaps this situation is not visible, because at the end of the day, when speaking in the context of statics and State, it means evading all the evolutionary concepts; for statics, for abusively desiring a permanent and definitive state, and for the State, for its desire to preserve equality over historical evolution. But in both cases, and above all the case of the State, the contingency, mobility and the fluctuations impede the stable balance, while in statics, it is converted into the desire to create the image of stability the State does not offer. Mainly, through its tectonic appearance, architecture solves the paradox of offering an excessive stability for a world that is essential mutable and truly fragile.

Now, it is desirable to achieve the commitment of carrying out a structural model of tensegrity that highlights the need for reciprocity of forces for the existence of a transitory, metastable stability, operating in the open design of the system relationships (fig. 9).

Fig. 9. Listening Tree Plans, Z4Z4 AAA arquitectos, November 2010.
Source: Z4Z4 AAA Arquitectos.

 

Regarding this proposal, it would be worth observing as the partial failure of reciprocities would make the total balance vulnerable, that is, the value of the existence of an order and its capacity for evolution. If a tensegrity system would take seriously the faithful representation of statics updated to the reality of the world, it would have to strive to sharpen its constructive solution to the limit in which any loss of belonging to the systemic order would cause the complete collapse of the tensegrity unit. This would mean achieving a state of tensegrity purity that would imply working exclusively with elements for the force diagram: simple traction forces, simple compression and the discontinuity of compression forces. All this would establish a permissive order for bring together the image of statics to the image of the state, both being fragile, changing and complex.

In 1953 French architect and engineer Robert Le Ricolais received the commission to design a long-range, high precision cannon for the French army. Increasing their length, which increases their weight and provokes a deviation from the sightline, makes the long-range cannons, passing from straight to slightly curved, thus losing precision. The precision problem is resolved by seeking out increased length while at the same time achieving rigidity and lightness. Le Ricolais offered a solution that consisted of compressing a mast with a set of peripheral cables. The tensed cable joined the two extremes of the bar, and along the guideline he placed a set of rods perpendicular to the mast to offer a collection of forces to the axis that reduced the amount of buckling while they were compressed between the cables and the mast. If the buckling length decreased without problems, the sight line could be perfectly straight and would tremendously lighten the group. This model offered numerous ideas for designing bridges, water deposits, lightweight towers and more. Among these –and from which he developed the model of suspended pillars– appeared a tower with a single point load of compression on the ground as well as various tension loads. This tower was tremendously rigid and composed of different masts that would open upward, following the form of a cone. While these opened upwards, they were surrounded by circular rings that built an inverse cone that connected to the masts by means of radial rods perpendicular to the central axis of the tower. This was not a tensegrity model; it was more of a system compressed by its own weight and the tension forces of a family of peripheral cables.

In tensegrity spheres, the failure of a single element implicates a partial failure of the form since the sphere can respond in various directions as well as the inherent capacity of its geometry to respond structurally as a collection of rings, a dome or an arch. For these characteristics, it would never completely fade. On the contrary, a tensegrity tower model could be the most appropriate for stimulating the formal empathy between diverse concepts. The tower idea, apart from recovering atavist images on the act of erecting, symbolizing and elevating, manifests a collapse along the vertical axis by fading away, a descent of the entire assembly toward a fulcrum due to the effect of gravity and therefore an emphatic image of failure given that being straight is what makes a tower what it is.

Returning to Le Ricolais’s previously described proposal, one would only have to transform it functionally toward a tensegrity model. If we remove the connection between the rings and poles, the rings are literally suspended in air while working unitarily with an internal rigidity proportional to the rigidity of the whole. Similarly, if we transform the rings into polygons (fig. 10), the structure presents as an assembly of rods and cable, more effectively responding to the rectilinear path of the loads. The nodes are articulated so that the plane of the polygonal rings only works in compression (fig. 11). Then, the cables are organized in four opposite directions, two by two, passing through the geometric center of a metallic disk and the whole result is equal to the sum of the compression on the rods converging toward the fulcrum of the assembly. Resolved like this, the whole structure will be predisposed to failure approaching maximum stability between two extreme opposites: to stay standing or to fall completely to the ground.

 

Fig. 10. Polygonal rings, Listening Tree.
Source: Z4Z4 AAA Arquitectos.

Fig. 11. Listening Tree node scheme.
Source: Z4Z4 AAA Arquitectos.

Following this reorganization and having trivialized stability principles used to build long range, high precision cannons, would have passed from a stable to radical metastable state. A state where failure was certain for a milimetrical deformation from the initial solution, because we can see that the nodes are not embedded and the rods remain in compression by a ring that does not fit between ends of the rods by a difference of millimeters; this difference is proportional to the possible bowing and twisting of the wood rods when they change hygroscopic state, as illustrated in the Cracking Box by David Nash.

In the year 1992, David Nash allowed the wood’s nature to finish his sculptures. Cracking Box, a perfectly square cube of wood, was left to its formal evolution every time the wood reacted to a humid environment. After some months, the box expressed the formal discord of the cube through fissures, ripples and breaks that made the box a double geometric shape: the origin and the arrival. This idea translated to Le Ricolais’ banal tower proposal, eventually leads us to complete the concepts, forms and principles for the tensegrity structure that we announced as the proposal: a structure that we call Listening Tree (fig. 12).

Fig. 12. Despiece Listening Tree.
Source: Z4Z4 AAA Arquitectos.

 

Listening Tree is a tensegrity structure that is built with wood and metal. The wood used for the rods is cut against the grain, finer to the outside than the center and with a curved section lengthwise that responds better to compression (fig. 11). Once the group is assembled, it is given over to its evolution, knowing that wood is loaded with internal potential energy and an active capacity for transformation in relation to states of relative humidity. In turn, these rods are coordinated with the whole of the structure through the collective stress that facilitates the tensile forces. Internal tress, load and tension permit the equilibrium of the system. When the Listening Tree is introduced in the Sierra de Guadarrama environment, at the feet of the Cerro de San Pedro in Madrid and outside the workshop where is has been prepared, a process of internal deformation to adapt the wood to the environment will slowly create a diverse form in each rod (fig. 13). As it is reaching equilibrium, Listening Tree will continue to warp in new and diverse ways until reaching the limit of its existence. That form in which passes over the threshold of its last possible equilibrium and bubble up and vanish in to the air.

Fig. 13. Listening Tree, Cerro de San Pedro, Colmenar Viejo, Madrid. Rafael Beneytez, Z4Z4 AAA arquitectos, November 2010.
Photography by Rafael Beneytez.

Conclusion

The proposed in this article is open. It does not demand a certain reading, rather is positioned in an intermediate point between all concepts and themes unfolded to speak of the same thing: the potential to form processes and, consequently, the manipulation of thought in discussing what the title calls the abuse of the stable forms as an assumed practice.

In the case of the Listening Tree it would be insignificant to understand its failure as a form of expressing fragility. A kind of fragility inherent in the structure of a system, that makes purity visible as a strange state. A radical purity without which equilibrium cannot be maintained and that shows the potential state of its stability as a transitory form of becoming. That is, it is offered as a metastable equilibrium between two possible points: maintaining equilibrium associated with the atmospheric conditions or fail by giving into gravity. Thus, it is seen as something hypersensitive to the changes of the environment it inhabits. Finally, Listening Tree vanished into the air on November 16, 2011.

Notes

1 In the world of laws, recipes and customs are respected in the oldest societies. They are untouchable in the most archaic societies.

2 The chirotop or the human hand domain, the phonotop or that of the vocal sound, the uterotop or the maternal realm, the thermotop or the comfort experiences, the erototop or the place of erotic energy transferences, the ergotop, the sphere of parental or religious authority; the alethotop or learning group within the truth realm, the thanatotop or the ancestors domain, and the nomotop, which represents the social agreements on the politics sphere.

3 From the expression Tensión Integrity Structures by Buckminster Fuller.

4 Aside from the debate on the author of the first tensegrity structure, it must be said that Ioganson accomplished two things, simultaneously and without precedent: a revolutionary static principle and a revolutionary socio-political state.

5 An alternative planted a displacement of the centers of gravity and formal structures without surpassing the problem of gravity as a hegemonic theme and sought a visual imbalance or energy in the form. Definitively, a a first critique of statics.

6 The Russian Avant Garde was involved in this technical and productive transformation, reaching their peak between 1923 and 1926. In the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts and Industries in Paris the Russian show won several medals.

7 That the collective stress be the common pattern for stable functioning, the reaction to the unexpected or adaptation to the mobile, allows for thinking in how or under what conditions the constant increase of internal tensions are made which must be overcome without the tiring experience of continuous tension. The institutions and routines are modes of social operation for the sublimity of these continous states of tension. We can assume that these two modes for regulating continuous tensions sacrifice freedom of choice and what disappears is the overwhelming freedom of choice for the individual that expects the state of balance. And so, this individual flees from the demanding task of the originality of his actions and the misery of the lack of ways. Unburdened from the continuous pressure, energy is freed for other tasks. To the architects, each time they undertake a formal idea, they must defend each step in a web of productive relationships focused toward the same objective. The division of work posed by modernity obliges us to the structuring of ordered internal tensions in a self-stable pattern in which all components are knowingly aware of the dependence of such agencies for collective achievement. The complementarity between the parties creates a tension demand unifying the labor division between coalesced agents. This load modulation of increases, decreases and tension having been effective, is made essential for all successes, given that such achievements are the result of creating tensions between sensibilities of diverse disciplines and coupled to a beauty created through the disciplinary rigors of many affiliated individuals under the same tension at each step.

8 Klee’s concept of configuration must be related to Jacques Monod’s ideas on teleonomy and Henri Bergson’s élan vital. In Monod, the concept of teleonomy appears to explain the formation that accompanies an autonomous morphogenesis that as a project carrier loaded with information allows for things to be, administrating the energy contained within them (Monod, 1981). In Bergson’s words, the matter tends to fall and life tends to rise, driven by a élan vital that never ceases and in whose collision produces the being (Bergson, 1977). These last words, while still being intuitive and building a clear image of the diverse states of energy in evolution, help one to see what can be undestood between life and death translated to states of pure energy.

9 In the first proposal, he will not only speak of the existing physical individuation bet also the vital and psychic individuations as in the case of resolving a metastable system. In this proposal, the formula illustrates the states of a system such as over-fusion or over-saturation that preside in the genesis of the crystals. Considering them as clear to give solvency to the metastability concept is not complex enough to encompass the problem of individuation in an exhaustive way. The metastability is a kind of weak stability that progresses toward strong states of stability each time a significan evolution in produced in the being. This implies an evolving and continuous state, that is, the presence of becoming.

10 Therein lies our critique of stability, in the impossibility of ontogenesis, that is, in the impossibility of a being built though a process. In the physical individuation, matter passes into a kind of active process of constant becoming and resulting in haecceity object that has relational and insubstantial properties.

11 Gilbert Simondon in his book The individuation to the light of the notions of form and information will explain within the first paragraph of the first chapter the physical individuation applied in the forming of the brick, rejecting hylomophic duality incorporating the notions of energy and becoming to understand this continous process (Simondon, 2009, p. 48-56).

12 According to basic chemistry principles, all repetitive structures are considered crystals.

13 "When they say that everything is body, they mean to say very simple things. For example, a circle does not extend in the space in the same way if it is wood or if it is marble. "Everything is body" will mean that a red circle and a blue circle extend into space differently. This deals with the tension. A thing that painters know very well. When they say that all things are bodies, it means that all things are defined by tones (en Greek, tone means tension) the contracted force that defines something. If you cannot find a kind of contraction, the embryonic force within something (the body), you do not know it" (Deleuze 2004, p. 381).

References

BERMAN, Marshall. Todo lo sólido se desvanece en el aire. La experiencia de la Modernidad. Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI, 1988.

BERGSON, Henri. Memoria y vida. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1977.

OURRIAUD, Nicolas. Estética relacional. Buenos Aires, Adriana Hidalgo Editora, 2007.

DELEUZE, Gilles. Francis Bacon: La lógica de la sensación. Madrid, Arena Libros, 2009.

DELEUZE, Gilles. Mil mesetas. Capitalismo y esquizofrenia. Valencia, Pre-textos, 2000.

DELEUZE, Gilles. Pintura: el concepto de diagrama. Buenos Aires, Editorial Cactus, 2007.

DÉOTTE, Jean-Louis. ¿Qué es un aparato estético?: Benjamin, Lyotard, Rancière. Santiago de Chile, Metales Pesados, 2012.

FOUCAULT, Michel. El pensamiento del afuera. Valencia, Pre-Textos, 2008.

HEIDEGGER, Martin. El Ser y el Tiempo. Manuel Garrido (Trad.). Madrid, Editorial Tecnos, 2000.

KLEE, Paul. Paul Klee. Maestro de la Bauhaus. Madrid, Fundación Juan March, 2013.

KLEE, Paul. Teoría del arte moderno. Hugo Acevedo (Trad.). Buenos Aires, Caldén, 1976.

LIPPARD, Lucy. Seis Años: La desmaterialización del objeto artístico de 1966 a 1972. Madrid, Akal/Arte Contemporáneo, 2004.

MARX, Karl. El manifiesto Comunista. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 2001.

MERLEAU-PONTY, Maurice. El ojo y el espíritu. Madrid, Trotta, 2013.

MONOD, Jacques. El azar y la necesidad. Barcelona, Tusquets, 1981.

NIETZSCHE, Friedrich. La Gaya Ciencia. Madrid, Edaf, 2002.

RILEY, Terence. Light construction: transparencia y ligereza en la arquitectura de los 90. Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, 1996.

ROWE, Colin y SLUTZKY, Robert. Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal. Basel, Birkhäuser, 1997.

SIMMEL, George. Sociología del espacio. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1991.

SIMONDON, Gilbert. La individuación a la luz de las nociones de forma y de información. Buenos Aires, Ediciones La Cebra y Editorial Cactus, 2009.

SIMONDON, Gilbert. El modo de existencia de los objetos técnicos. Buenos Aires, Prometeo libros, 2008.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. Esferas I: Burbujas. Microesferología, 3rd ed. Madrid, Siruela, 2009.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. Esferas II: Globos. Macroesferología, 2nd ed. Madrid, Siruela, 2011.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. Esferas III: Espumas. Esferología Plural. Madrid, Siruela, 2006.

VIRILIO, Paul. Estética de la desaparición, 3rd ed. Barcelona, Anagrama, 2003.


1. Rafael Beneytez. Architect, Escuela Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 1998 and PhD Internacional Candidate, 2009. Between 1999 y 2007 collaborated at Rafael Moneo Studio being Project and Works manager. He was design studio professor and director of Aesthetics and Composition at the Escuela Superior de Arquitectura y Tecnología de Madrid; he has been visiting faculty member at the universities of Würzburg, Limerick, Delft, Harvard, Barcelona and Münster. Currently he is associated professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, develops his doctoral thesis on atmospheric issues in architecture and runs his practice Z4Z4 AAA (Architecs Activities Associates).

2. Víctor Manuel Cano. Architect, 2012 and Máster en Proyectos Arquitectónicos Avanzados, 2013, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. He is connected to the Grupo de Investigación del Paisaje Cultural and its scholar activities. His diploma project was awarded at the V PFC show at the XII Bienal Española de Arquitectura y Urbanismo and his final Master research got the Special Prize at the XII Cer tamen Arquímedes 2013. The relationship between body, spatial narratives, landscape and car tography is his research core. He collaborates at Z4Z4 AAA architectural practice.

BERMAN, Marshall. Todo lo sólido se desvanece en el aire. La experiencia de la Modernidad. Buenos Aires, Siglo XXI, 1988.

BERGSON, Henri. Memoria y vida. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1977.

OURRIAUD, Nicolas. Estética relacional. Buenos Aires, Adriana Hidalgo Editora, 2007.

DELEUZE, Gilles. Francis Bacon: La lógica de la sensación. Madrid, Arena Libros, 2009.

DELEUZE, Gilles. Mil mesetas. Capitalismo y esquizofrenia. Valencia, Pre-textos, 2000.

DELEUZE, Gilles. Pintura: el concepto de diagrama. Buenos Aires, Editorial Cactus, 2007.

DÉOTTE, Jean-Louis. ¿Qué es un aparato estético?: Benjamin, Lyotard, Rancière. Santiago de Chile, Metales Pesados, 2012.

FOUCAULT, Michel. El pensamiento del afuera. Valencia, Pre-Textos, 2008.

HEIDEGGER, Martin. El Ser y el Tiempo. Manuel Garrido (Trad.). Madrid, Editorial Tecnos, 2000.

KLEE, Paul. Paul Klee. Maestro de la Bauhaus. Madrid, Fundación Juan March, 2013.

KLEE, Paul. Teoría del arte moderno. Hugo Acevedo (Trad.). Buenos Aires, Caldén, 1976.

LIPPARD, Lucy. Seis Años: La desmaterialización del objeto artístico de 1966 a 1972. Madrid, Akal/Arte Contemporáneo, 2004.

MARX, Karl. El manifiesto Comunista. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 2001.

MERLEAU-PONTY, Maurice. El ojo y el espíritu. Madrid, Trotta, 2013.

MONOD, Jacques. El azar y la necesidad. Barcelona, Tusquets, 1981.

NIETZSCHE, Friedrich. La Gaya Ciencia. Madrid, Edaf, 2002.

RILEY, Terence. Light construction: transparencia y ligereza en la arquitectura de los 90. Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, 1996.

ROWE, Colin y SLUTZKY, Robert. Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal. Basilea, Birkhäuser, 1997.

SIMMEL, George. Sociología del espacio. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1991.

SIMONDON, Gilbert. La individuación a la luz de las nociones de forma y de información. Buenos Aires, Ediciones La Cebra y Editorial Cactus, 2009.

SIMONDON, Gilbert. El modo de existencia de los objetos técnicos. Buenos Aires, Prometeo libros, 2008.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. Esferas I: Burbujas. Microesferología, 3ª ed. Madrid, Siruela, 2009.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. Esferas II: Globos. Macroesferología, 2ª ed. Madrid, Siruela, 2011.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. Esferas III: Espumas. Esferología Plural. Madrid, Siruela, 2006.

VIRILIO, Paul. Estética de la desaparición, 3ª ed. Barcelona, Anagrama, 2003.

Creative Commons License Todo el contenido de esta revista, excepto dónde está identificado, está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons