Post 446  –by Gautam Shah




Traditional building systems are massed in one to one relationships or linear formations, because we design components that are individually dealt, drawn, built and operated. This makes it easier to deal with subsystems in different time, space by different experts. A systems approach to design, render simple or linear systems. Building systems are conceived as structures with superfluous concern for environment or the occupants. Same building composition is placed on all orientations and site conditions. In many instances the ‘architecture is so much internationalized’ that it is moored anywhere, irrespective of climate, location or terrain. The universalization leads to ‘forms being imposed without concern for the purpose’. The only complexity that descends is in the form, generated by the machine manipulated ‘pursuit of the unusual’.

4428355645_8f5fc0615e_zMathematical Fractal Complexity Abstraction

‘A complex system is one that by design or function or both is difficult to understand and verify’ (Weng, Bhalla and Iyengar). So perhaps design which needs to be well understood before delivery cannot be a complex system. The need for complexity in building system persists. It is perhaps a pursuit of the unusual. The attitude to conceive a system with all its dependencies requires multi-disciplinary approach, which is sadly absent. Experts arrive to offer solutions to make the concept a workable thing. Only in house experts part of architectural design office are, a structural engineer, and perhaps an interior designer. In interior design office subscribes to furniture designer.

Complexity versus Simplicity


Complex systems are nested and very effusive. The complex systems are perceived of subsystems, each with unique time and space dependencies. As these dependencies, connections or relations, do not manifest simultaneously one can study them or plan for their hypothetical or real replacement or management. Complex systems have no permanent boundaries, and are difficult to determine. These boundaries, however, can be presumed by the stack holder, who is involved with it. Sadly designers are stake holders in design and execution (delivery) processes but not for the user experience part of it. Complex systems when conceived or analyzed by a team, become open systems, compared to single systems or holistic creations.


Single or holistic systems are balanced or with thermodynamic equilibrium. But complex systems are continuously varying, as affected by many external energies. Complex systems show a characteristic pattern or order. The order is obvious when the purpose of togetherness of the subsystems is determined or even subsumed.



Bio-mimicry is one such order that is subsumed in buildings. Complex systems often exhibit hysteresis, a phenomenon in which the reaction of the system to changes is dependent upon its past reactions to change. This sort of memory retention or recollection (of previous exposure to magnetism is the working principle in audio tape and hard disk devices or recovery from complicated deformations in the state of substances) is just one facet of system behaviour. It is sought to be seen as simplistic and stand-alone hysteresis.

Falkrik wheel lifting the boat Wikipedia Image Attribution: Famine at en.wikipedia

Memorials are designed as remarkable Places, to serve simpler and fewer functions. Often there is an attempt to de-emphasize the space making elements. With fewer distracting architectonic elements, the attention comes to the site, either integrating or blocking it. The scale is enlarged to make an architecture, or depressed to mark a place.