Complexity as a Narrative: Architecture and Chaos


In this paper an attempt is made to discuss how the computer has imposed new conventions to architecture over the last thirty years. The paper’s aim is to discuss how the introduction of digital media has forced architecture to find ways to deal with new technologies and to develop new disciplinary meanings. First, the paper addresses the question of complexity and chaos in the postmodern discussion by the reading of Lyotard’s theories. Therefore, the essay pinpoints attempts of developing new conceptions of “complexity” in architecture derived from the post-modern sciences of indetermination. Interestingly enough, this was doable because both these kind of sciences and the architecture using these concepts were/are based on the adoption of digital technologies. Consequently, a number of scientific and architectural projects are discussed. Then, complexity is discussed as a design method allowing the embodiment of scientific concepts in architecture. Still, it is noted that these architectures are not scientific objects, but are more poetic reflections based on scientific concepts. This leads the paper to investigate the possibility of Architecture to use science as a narrative. Such a possibility is spotted in the texts of the same architects discussed before showing how a project can embody cultural values. A number of specific studies (such as James Gleick, Lyotard, Charles Jencks, Gilles Deleuze and Sanford Kwinter as well as others) are then introduced in order to verify these connections. Finally, a number of questions are introduced in relation to the present condition of architecture in order to verify if and how these kinds of experimentations are still actual.


Giacomo Pala (2016), "Complexity as a Narrative," Journal of Applied Sciences and Arts: Vol. 1 : Iss. 2 , Article 3. Available at: