📚 node [[notes on the synthesis of form]]
Notes on the Synthesis of Form
📖 stoa (open document) at doc.anagora.org/notes-on-the-synthesis-of-form
⥅ related node [[notsof]] pulled by user
- a book
See annotations/highlights in hypothesis above for inline commentary.
Goodness of Fit
- The ultimate object of design is form.
- form + context == ensemble
It is peculiar how much of the comments on ensembles apply to systems in general. This book so far often reads like christopher alexander has independently discovered principles in use in computer science; or, of course, perhaps computer science is just one possible take on the nature of complex systems.
- I am curious to know if people in the reading group with different backgrounds to mine, but whose primary activity is also not architecture, get similar impressions w.r.t. their disciplines.
- The rightness of form depends on the degree to which a form fits an ensemble .
Ensembles can be decomposed into many (nested, overlapped) form-context boundaries.
- But in any given analysis the boundary should probably be kept constant.
- p19 "The form is a part of the world over which we have control, and which we decide to shape while leaving the rest of the world as it is. The context is that part of the world which puts demands on this form; anything in the world that makes demands of the form is context. Fitness is a relation of mutual acceptability between these two. In a problem of design we want to satisfy the mutual demands which the two make on one another. We want to put the context and the form into effortless contact or frictionless coexistence."
- p20 interesting/surprising use of impossible.
- p21 negative perception of fit, in the sense that we notice misfit and see its absence as fit.
p24 achieving good fit via neutralizing misfits
- simonpjw comment about misfits as beautiful
- p25 an exhaustive description of requirements for good fit probably includes the universe. This problem only seems tractable usually because of shared context.
- p27 a procedure based on listing misfits "most likely to occur". See comment.
The Source of Good Fit
- p32 Who is macbirdy? I like their reading.
- p33 A lot of this chapter feels a bit problematic, outdated in its description of "unselfconscious cultures".
- 37 macbirdy on a roll
- meta my reading is turning more critical/nitpicky as I go through this chapter.
Meeting with the group
- Andreas said that it was sometimes hard to remember 'design' meant architectural as the ties to graphic design were so solid
- armengol primes and factoring
The Unselfconscious Process
- I still find this 'unselfconscious' characterization problematic, but I'll let it go -- if I don't I won't get the point, probably.
I liked the slovakian shawls example.
- Recognizing and curbing bad mutations != ability to introduce good mutations.
The Selfconscious Process
local mutations, reputation
- parallels with the development of authorship in art?
p62 category trees
- We invent theories to alleviate the burden of freedom from tradition.
- set theory
- decomposing misfits ~ decomposing problems
- thesis: for every problem there is one decomposition which is "specially proper" to it
The Realization of the Program
- Two phases:
examples of diagrams
- le corbusier's ville radieuse is a diagram stemming from two requirements: high density and equal/max access to sunlight and air
- a sphere, for the requirement to enclose a maximum volume within a surface
- engineer sketches, kekulé's representation of benzene
- in general they:
- two ways to describe form:
- a unified description is the abstract equivalent of a constructive diagram
"the program is a hierarchy of the most significant subsets of M"
- this is looking more and more like a graph partitioning problem
- performance standards are based on scales that estimate fit/misfit in certain domains. quantifiable; miss the qualitative.
we model problems with fit/misfit as booleans; although they might actually represent quantitative continuous variables plus a threshold, or qualitative opinions by people explicitly expressed
- fit = 0
- misfit = 1
- "Let us remind ourselves of the fundamental principle. Any state of affairs in the ensemble which derives from the interaction between form and context, and causes stress in the ensemble, is a misfit."
- misfit is left as a primitive notion (undefined)
- domain is the totaility of possible forms within the cognitive reach of the designer
probabilities enter the stage! Finally. They seem to make sense in this context.
- as usual, when probabilities are independent all's nice and well.
- pearson correlation coefficient
- some correlations between probabilities are intrinsic, some are circumstantial
- we call correlations causal when we understand the rules that account for it; like e.g. thermodynamics as they affect materials
p111 correlation matrix
- helps us define L and thus settle on the G(M, L)
three formal properties of G(M, L)
L describes all the interactions between variables there is. Because L is the set of two-variable correlations, M must be chosen so it's free from n-variable correlations with n > 2.
- superordinate concepts like "economics" and "acoustics" tend to be problematic here, and they should be seen as intermediate steps -- must be broken down
- the two-variable correlations must be small for any pair.
p(xi = 0) should be the same for all i (?)
- but in the next sentence Alexander moves to "roughly the same in significance", which is both distinct than the previous and more reasonable IMHO.
- L describes all the interactions between variables there is. Because L is the set of two-variable correlations, M must be chosen so it's free from n-variable correlations with n > 2.
the tension between form-making (integration) and analysis (fragmentation) is resolved by "finding knots": problems are not homogeneous, they actually have some structure, so there are right ways to tackle them.
- reminds me of computational complexity
- p124 well decomposed sets will tend to be densely connected internally but have few or no links (the latter usually being not achievable) between sets
- "It is the culmination of the designer's task to make every diagram both a pattern and a unit. As a unit it will fit into the hierarchy of larger components that fall above it; as a pattern it will specify the hierarchy of smaller components which it itself is made of."