Fact or Fuzzy? On the Topology of Space Perception in Digital Architeture

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The advent of new digital design techniques and thereby the possibility to work
more intensively with topology is believed to have shaken the conceptual grounds
in architecture. In other words, that we are facing a paradigm shift.

In one of his highly influential contributions to architectural theory, Greg Lynn has
claimed that through topological design a new and more profound alliance has
been instigated between space, geometry and body (Lynn, 1998). In the same
vein Lars Spuybroek has introduced the concept of “motorized geometry” in order
to explain how interactive buildings is able to engage fundamental ‘topological’
levels of perception and bodily action (Spuybroek, 1998, 2002, 2004). Moreover,
Spuybroek bases his arguments on what appears to be irrefutable neuroscientific

The aim of this paper is above all critically to examine and clarify if neuroscience
actually supports these architectural ideas. It should not go unnoticed, for
instance, that neurobiologist David Marr’s computational theory of visual
cognition (Marr, 1982) strongly indicates the existence of some underlying
principles of space perception comparable to the topological surface qualities
celebrated by the digital architects. Yet, if Marr’s theory can be taken at face
value it would imply that the idea of digital architecture representing a paradigm
shift must be revised.

In this paper I set out first to account for how this idea was originally brought up
by Lynn and Spuybroek. Although, my argument will be confined in particular to
how it is laid out in Spuybroek’s conception of ‘motorized geometry’. Next, I
introduce and apply Marr’s computational theory in my inquiries into some
seminal projects by NOX and UN Studio in order to increase knowledge of the
topology of space perception in digital architecture. By so doing I shall shed light
on how neuroscience may and may not inform architectural theory.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of The International Conference Architectural Inquiries
Number of pages12
Publication date2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
EventFact or Fuzzy? On the Topology of Space Perception in Digital Architeture - Göteborg, Sweden
Duration: 24. Apr 200826. Apr 2008


ConferenceFact or Fuzzy? On the Topology of Space Perception in Digital Architeture

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