Traditionally, it was believed that form was “assigned” by the higher powers, and so the world and everything in it were created in God’s eye. But the philosopher Deleuze argued otherwise. “The resources involved in the genesis of form are not transcendental but immanent to the material itself.” A soap bubble is round and a salt crystal is cubed due to the physical and chemical properties of the molecules of which they are composed. But even more interesting are what Deleuze refers to as “spaces of energetic possibilities” (aka “state spaces” or “phase spaces”), for example in a more complex process such as embryogenesis, where “the division of the egg is secondary in relation to more significant morphogenetic movements”. Material and energy flows determine the behaviour of a substance and its resultant form at every moment – in essence, there exists a mathematics that already “knows” which form will exist at any given phase. Deleuze also talks about two key structures, namely “strata” and “self-consistent aggregates” (or “trees” and “rhizomes”, respectively). A good example involves sedimentary rock, which is composed of highly ordered and homogeneous layers of pebbles, but the sorting mechanism that created this architectonic structure – flowing water and gravity – operated quite simply according to basic physical principles. Similarly, the formation of such strata can also be observed within the biological and social realms. To generalize, heterogeneous elements, when affected by a series of operators, or “intercallary elements”, organize accordingly and interlock locally, resulting in organized systems with decreased entropy. For me, all of this translates simply to the idea that ecosystems (whether physical, chemical, or biological) always strive towards a low-entropy state – the path of least resistance, so to speak. In nature, material is expensive, but shape is cheap, and so forms will naturally evolve according to the most efficient process possible and ultimately arrive at the most efficient configuration possible. I have always been fascinated by how form is dictated by mathematics. In my mind, the human approach to design is often arbitrary, and based on aesthetics and stylistic considerations. When one looks at the amazing creations of nature, one realizes that evolution operates not according to a bigger picture, but based on low entropy mathematics which will always yield the most efficient (and often effective) result. For example, if one examines the ROLEX Learning Centre, designed by SANAA, one will realize that a lot of the design decisions are perhaps arbitrary. Why create a rectangular building with a 9 m x 9 m grid and then cut spheroidal openings into it? Why fourteen openings and not twelve or fifteen? Why this landscape pattern and not another version? However, many aspects have no doubt been carefully considered and efficiently calculated – for example, the curvature of the shells; the divisive effect of the contours, both physically and psychologically; the acoustics throughout the building; the penetration of light; the proportion of all the elements and furniture in the building; and so on. Of course, architects design buildings for people, and since people are capable of complex thought, bodily perception, and emotional experience, not to mention that our buildings must satisfy a wide array of programmes and functions, architectures for people must take these elements into account. Perhaps the mathematics of design for humans is not as simple or as objective as the mathematics of cellular morphogenesis. Ultimately, I remain curious about developing both architectures and building processes that mimic morphogenetic qualities and remain as efficient and effective as possible throughout all phases of a building’s existence. This reminds me of Sean Lally’s “The Shape of Energy”, where architecture composed of “material energies” can change and adapt, appear and disappear instantaneously, based on climatic conditions and human needs. There is no waste and senselessness – only logic and responsiveness exist in such architectures. How can we accomplish this in the physical realm, with concrete materials? Can we transgress conventional design and instead act as guides for “self-consistent architecture”?