Book Discussion – Autopoiseis of Architecture

Host: Ivan Kurniawan Nasution

Autopoiesis is the autonomy of architecture itself; the way to (re)produce architecture within architecture through series of cognitive selection and selective decision-making. This term came from Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela (1980) while studying about regenerative process in cellular system. These automation tendencies then were studied by Niklas Luhnmann in his 7 volumes writings about Social System Theory (1986-2000). Later it was researched by Patrik Schumacher on 2009, regarding its connection to recent concept of architecture.

Autopoiesis of architectural communication should be understood as a phenomenon of perceptive interaction towards spatial boundaries, which later producing the new systems. As a process, autopoiesis works through 3 steps: observation, demarcation, and description. Demarcation is essential on the process; it is relied upon identification, selection, and restructuring the binary codes of architecture (beauty and utility) via some medium and forms. In an autopoietic system, medium and forms of space merely a retelling of old communication, while at the same time it acquires novelty (newness) from codes modification.

Materiature, regarding the context of materials, is another form of architectural communication. Materiature signified the environment (society) into a set of physical system-signs, either as accents of as the main element of building itself. As physical signifier, materiature tends to manipulate and falsified spatial context toward its signifier’s purposes. This also giving risk of commercialisation to certain places, which threats its identity.

Current phenomenon of rainbow kampongs revitalization in Indonesia is the example of this situation. Although it has raised social awareness towards preservation of poor settlements, this phenomenon also leads to what Jean Baudrillard called as antagonism of reality. Materiature is capable, As Baudrillard says, to manipulate and modified its signified context. Then perversion is inevitable and worsen within mass media (over)exploitation on architecture project itself. The essence of kampongs will gradually change from resilient settlements into mere low-cost urban entertainment. A banal Disneyland.

Let’s learn and be inspired!

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