- Some interesting reflections on Mathieu Helie's "Emergent Urbanism"
blog about complex geometry and fractals versus Cartesian geometry
currently in vogue in architecture.
The genesis of complex geometry
I don’t believe that there is a dichotomy between a supposedly modern
and traditional architecture. Instead there exist different geometric
processes, and while traditionally builders have employed nesting
processes in their work, for perhaps no other reason than it came
naturally to them, modern builders have restricted themselves to
linear geometric processes due to drawing their inspiration from
cartesian science and engineering.
In attempting to transform architecture into a vessel for artistic
expression, modern architects have been trapped by their limited tool
set, and the product of their work has often been confusing, silly, or
utterly corrupt. There are only so many tricks that one can perform
with linear geometry, although computers have extended the reach of
those tricks. But the confusion of modern architects becomes even more
obvious when they ascribe artistic merits to traditional builders who
never aspired to be artists at all. One such instance is the
introdution of a recent biography of the 18th century french military
engineer Vauban by official starchitect Jean Nouvel, who described
Vauban’s fortresses as an early form of land-art and morphing. Jean
Nouvel asks, could a man be an artist without being aware of it?
Vauban was not an artist at all. Military necessity led him to employ
geometric processes that significantly increased the complexity of
fortifications, and it is merely incidental that today we find his
projects to have artistic merits.
The process through which Vauban’s work became worthy of architectural
praise provides the key to the distinction between linear and nesting
geometry. Vauban was not himself the inventor of the star fort. Those
had been around for more than a century when he began his career for
the army of king Louis XIV. The basic star fort was a simple concept:
the old masonry walls of the medieval age had shown themselves to be
obsolete with the advent of cannons, and they had been replaced with
thick banks of earth dug out of trenches whose major flaw was to
provide space out of reach of defensive fire at its angles. The angles
were thus extended into diamond-shaped turrets in the first pass at a
feedback correction, introducing nesting geometry and initiating the
first step of the genesis of a fractal.
(Continues, with illustrations at the above URL)
Montreal QC Canada