On Growth and Form, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson

In this text Thompson combines Biology, science and Math ideas together, in order to present his theory of transformation in nature. Thompson writes about the morphogenesis, the process by which patterns are formed in plants, animals and human beings. His goal is “To study inter-relations of growth and form, and the part which the Physical forces play in this complex interaction”[1]

            Thompson presents many examples of correlations between biological forms and mechanical phenomena. Throughout observation and recording Thompson gives many examples from many biological figures- Human bones, skulls, leafs, sheep, giraffes, fishes etc. to prove that growth and form of any species can be represented through relatively simple mathematical equations. Thompson mainly critics the biologist of his time for overemphasizing evolution theories as the fundamental determinant of the form and structure of living organisms, by doing so, they give less important to the roles of physics and mechanism.

He claims that a species evolves into another species not through a series of minor changes to various body parts, but through large-scale transformations of entire animal. Contrary to Darwin’s theories about the Survival of the fitness, and the natural selection about forms in nature. “…Fourscore years’ study of the Origin of Species has had an unlooked-for and disappointing result.[2]

The group discussion was mainly about seeing Thompson as the pioneer of the parametric design. All of us were impressed by the 2d hand drawing analysis, and how Thompson succeed in taking such a complex really to the most basic ideas. I think his main success is showing that nature is not complicated at all, and really easy to understand. Even though today with the computers these drawing can be done in 3d and can be much more complex.

I agree, and think that Thompson’s work is a real inspirational for today’s architects, and also for artist, designers and basically for everyone who deals with shapes and forms

Personal Topic

After reading this article and participating the lecture, I can say that I’m very interested in Thompson’s way of classifying and observing researches.  Architecture processes and movements throughout time can be observed the same.

In my opinion Architecture is the best mirror for human’s society, and reflects its changes perfectly. I believe that understanding architectural evolution throughout time will help us understand human’s behavior as well.

Moreover, like Thompson, I also want to combine different fields of knowledge. For me philosophy ideas and theories has a lot to do with architectural ones; I believe that merging two different fields can leads to very fruitful, innovative and even unexpected ideas

[1] On Growth and Form, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson,  Cambridge University Press 1992, p.5

[2] There, p.109