Disorder in Architecture

The whole basis of Architecture is governed by order, ordered space, movement, function, people, society, world. The entire architectural design process from initial response to construction is one long process of creating order out of disorder.


Every classical style throughout the centuries has had order at its core, from the 5 classical orders to the rational forms of Modernism. Even Baroque, Gothic and Brutalist styles are underpinned by order.


Mans necessity to order his world is in juxtaposition with nature. Natures forms are subject to circumstance, chance and will.


The same can be said of people, they avoid convoluted designated paths where a more direct route can be forged, window sills are used as benches, pictures are pinned on white walls, People use space as circumstance, as chance dictates and disorder usually asserts itself.


Chaos in Architecture is caused by multiple external influences, air conditioning ducting and electrical wiring meander along building corridors, covered by false ceilings, Timber cladding on the outside of buildings are protected by various varnishes, the New York skyline is influenced and created by a multitude of separate zoning laws, not a single ordered architectural vision.


To find a cure for this Disorder, many theorists and architects have attempted to offer instructions to follow. Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola prescribed ratios for buildings columns 4:12:3 , Palladio recommended that a rectangular room should have a length double that of its width and so on..


However, lack of disorder can be desirable, elongated, flattened or disproportionate building shapes sizes and materials produce excitement movement and interest. Therefore the architect can sometimes be left with a dilemma. Industrial buildings that are designed for specific purposes and are purely functional can be comfortably chaotic because this is their nature.


Industrial buildings have an advantage in that they are pure in what they are created for not following any form of architectural movement or age, no ideal proportions are used or have a perfect human scale, they exist simply to serve their purpose, they are also infinitely adaptable as they can be changed with no visual impact on the order of the original building.


There are lessons that can be learned from this


1. Proportion and geometry - Let the parameters of the project guide the creation of form and space

2. Process - Let the process required generate the building form.

3. Scale - It is not always essential to follow "human scale"

4. Context - This does not always need to be respected, buildings dont always have to fit in with their surroundings, Visual tension adds drama and life to a building



© 2017 Alec Boreham