Author Archives: Luke Erickson


P2C “Architecture As Infinity” Luke Erickson

architecture as infinity – luke erickson

Adaptation can be defined as conditioning to make suitable to a changing environment. In architecture this might be assumed to be incredibly important, yet architects often take a different approach. Instead of absorbing and learning from the environment, many buildings are built merely to weather the storm; to last as long as they can without falling down. Architects and their creations are applauded for designs meant to last “100 years.” With the use of parametric design and incubating adaptive approaches to architecture, buildings could last thousands of years. Nicholas Wade of the New York Times notes that, “Even the bones endure nonstop makeover. The entire human skeleton is thought to be replaced every 10 years or so in adults, as twin construction crews of bone-dissolving and bone-rebuilding cells combine to remodel it.” The human body is able to replace it’s own structure approximately every 10 years due to the rehabilitating infrastructure in place. Architecture can mimic the human reconstruction process by recycling materials as they decay. If a maintenance system of this efficiency were implemented in architectural design, a building would not just be an investment rendered archaic in at most a few lifetimes, but a place for many future generations.

This theory cannot only be applied to singular buildings, but also to complexes of architecture and even cities. A key word here is generation. Generation as group of people born in a similar time span and (re)generation as the birth of new cultures that is inherent with each new society. Whether the differences of generation are purely aesthetic or extend to program, architecture can respond to these changes. As technology advances and the construction of skyscrapers shortens from years to weeks, architectural permanence should not be assumed. Architecture is born of the values of those who created it, so why should those who did not create it be suppressed in an environment that does not progress contemporary agendas.

There is something to be said here for nostalgia. Not all past influences are negative, and therefore not forgotten. This hypothesis of regeneration does not cover the past, good or bad. Adaptations are grown and constantly referencing past successes and failures. In this way, regenerative environments are imbued with considerably more historical value than most architecture today, merely built on top of “the site of” some other historical landmark. Adaptive architecture argues for a new collaboration between historic preservation and architecture in an unprecedented fashion. Too often, preservationists and progressive architects clash over the ideals of the past and the future, making the present a battleground. Through regenerative architecture both sides can be appeased presently, without compromise.

Architecture does not have to be about the past, the present, or the future. Through regeneration architecture can define all and none. Inhabitants control the environment in an unprecedented way. When mistakes are made (or discovered as in the case of many progressive designs) they can be incorporated into the next generation flawlessly and quickly. This is architecture as infinity; architecture as a true morphology endlessly in flux.