Spooky Action (2015)

In A Discourse on Method ("Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research" pp. 34-47, Birkhäuser 2008), Sanford Kwinter attributes James D. Murray's 1988 paper How The Leopard Gets Its Spots with announcing a new paradigm in evolutionary biology. Under this epigenetic paradigm, biological form results not from the straightforward reading out of hardwired genetic code. Rather, it arises from the complex and recursive interactions between this genetic information and “chemical and field systems flowing through one another” during an organism’s development.

Spooky Action is an exploration of the way in which the controlled and calibrated interactions of several fields of effects, overlaid one upon another and allowed to alternately constructively reinforce or destructively interfere, can generate architecturally, programmatically, and qualitatively differentiated spaces. These fields of effects each have an origin and functional definition in relation to the building site; the sum of their interactions on the form of the building, a new library annex for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, is a source of continuous and unpredictable novelty, demanding a combination of analytical and subjective form-finding in its use as a tool of architectural design.

Spooky Action also posits the building not as a standalone instantiation of Architecture, but as the privileged locus of extant social, political, cultural, economic, and material networks at which matters come to a head, as it were. The fields that generate the new annex are continuous and infinite. However, as their influence dissipates and become but noise with distance from their respective origins, their generative power must eventually give over to the other competing fields and forces of site—the urban, and perhaps the natural as well.

Geometry generated with Grasshopper and Python.