Ugly, Useless, Unstable Architectures: Phase Spaces and Generative Domains, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ugly, Useless, Unstable Architectures

Phase Spaces and Generative Domains, 1st Edition

By Miguel Paredes Maldonado


240 pages | 30 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367086220
pub: 2019-11-22
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Ugly, Useless, Unstable traces productive intersections between architecture and the discourses of post-structuralism and new materialism. It investigates how their unique ‘ontological regimes’ can be mobilized to supersede the classical framework that still informs both the production and the evaluation of architecture.

Throughout its three main chapters, this enquiry challenges one of the most prevalent tropes of architectural assessment: beauty, utility and stability. Author Miguel Paredes Maldonado critically unpacks the spatial and operational qualities of these three axioms, before setting out an alternative framework of spatial practice that draws from Gilles Deleuze’s post-structuralist take on the production of the real and Manuel De Landa’s model-based branch of new materialism. It reads and situates a series of spatial works through the lens of this critical methodology to contest the conceptual aspects traditionally underpinning architectural ‘value’. Instead, it posits that architecture can operate as a continuous, generative spectrum encompassing a broad range of potential configurations.

Written for academics and students in architectural theory, design and contemporary philosophical thought. 


"Inspired by New Materialism, this book challenges the ultimately Platonic ideals of beauty, stability, and utility in architecture. In reversing all three, it expands our space of options. In particular, the book’s Bataillean appeal to ugliness will be of interest given the return of beauty in recent aesthetic theory." - Graham Harman, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, USA

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Why bother? New Materialism as a tool for reappraising the classical architectural canon 2 Theoretical scaffold: Inverted Platonism and the theory of Models 2.1 Inverted Platonism 2.1.1 The conceptual origins of difference in Platonism 2.1.2 Traces of the Platonist model of identification in contemporary though 2.1.3 Platonism and the theoretical apparatus of the classical 2.1.4 The operations and implications of Inverted Platonism: continuity and difference 2.2 Theory of Models 2.2.1 Deleuze and the redeployment of mathematical models 2.2.2 The redeployment of Poincaré’s possibility spaces in contemporary thought 2.2.3 Possibility spaces, the modelling and the co-production of reality 2.3 Methodological integration 3 A matter of Structure 4 From Identification to Differentiation Chapter 2 The Project of Ugliness (The trans-Beautiful as a productive domain) 1The Ugly 2Classical Beauty as a model of identification 3Overcoming dualism: Transgressing classical Beauty 3.1The problem of evaluation in a dualist scenario 3.2Alternatives to a scenario of dichotomy 4Deploying phase space as a continuous framework of evaluation 4.1Attractor behaviour – Configuring the phase space of trans-Beauty 4.2Drifting away from the attractor of classical Beauty. 5Regions of non-compliance. 5.1Misplacement, or the modalities of being out of place 5.2Beyond the positional and relational properties of classical Beauty: The Monstrous 5.3Incompletion as resistance to classical Beauty 5.4Setting up a spectrum for aesthetics in phase space 6Strategies of departure from classical Beauty 6.1Correspondences in the operations of distribution and arrangement of matter 6.2Overcoming the limitations of mapping 6.2.1 Non-dimensional principles of formal organisation 6.2.2 Cartesian transformations as means of form generation 6.2.3 Topological geometries as open generative frameworks 6.3Diagrams as topological generators 6.4The operative qualities of the architectural diagram 6.5Architectural production in phase space 6.5.1 Thresholds, local extremes, slippages and attractors 6.5.2 Diagrams and the phase space of trans-beauty 6.5.3 An immanent framework 6.6The trans-beautiful diagram-as-practice Chapter 3 The Limits of the Useful (Revising the operational framework of usefulness in architectural production) 1Use, Utility and the conflict of Uselessness 2Utility and the persistence of space and function relationships 3Transgressions of the classical canon of Usefulness 3.1Trans-Utility as a phase space 4A dimensional account of the limits of the Useful 4.1Utility, Use, Function and Value 4.2Type as the relational model of function and spatial organisation 4.3Space, Function and Time as dimensions of trans-Utility 5Non-compliance: Potential vectors of trans-Utility 5.1The Obsolete and the Reprocessed 5.2The Dysfunctional 5.3The Dissipative as a counterbalance to productive optimisation 6Beyond a binary model of the useful: Phase Space as a multidimensional range of oscillation 6.1The expanded field of usefulness. Exploring the lines of flight from classical Utility 6.2The notion of Function as a relation of cause and effect 6.3Assemblages as non-hierarchical relational systems of causes and effects 6.4An alternative model to classical, linear causality 6.4.1 Non-linear 6.5The generative domain of non-linearity: process and processual systems 6.5.1 Processual operations: Accumulation, stratification, destratification 6.5.2 The dynamics of processual systems: Abstract machines and morphogenesis 7A tentative taxonomy of processual systems 7.1Causally univocal operations 7.2Processual systems 7.3Some remarks: process, interaction and the domains of trans-utility Chapter 4 Unstable Organisations (Or the Spatiotemporal Processes of Becoming) 1The Unstable 2Stability and time 3The problem of endurance: Transgressions of Classical Stability 3.1Difference as an index of instability 3.2The unstable as a domain of fundamental transformations 3.3The domains of the stable and the unstable in phase space 4Domains of transgression of classical stability 4.1The structural domain: consistent, connective networks 4.2The dynamic domain as a field of continuous actualisation 4.3The domain of duration: Continuous, heterogeneous transformations 5Operating far from classical stability in phase space 5.1The ambiguous –open to multiple interpretations- 5.2Blurry: the domain of diffuse boundaries 5.3Mutable: a domain of transformation at the structural level 5.4The domains of the stable and the unstable in phase space 6Organisational strategies: lines of flight manifesting the trans-stable in phase space 6.1Field conditions as strategies of open propagation 6.1.1 Field conditions operating at different scales 6.2Event: A domain of transformation within duration 6.3Change and development in the temporal domain of duration 6.4Alloys: heterogeneous mixtures of field conditions 6.4.1 Layered development: an architecture of alloys 6.5Field-Event Alloys: Intervals of dynamic interaction 6.5.1 Metropolitan alloy. Los Angeles, Mario Gandelsonas, 1984 6.5.2 Hibiki Hana Ma, Iannis Xenakis, 1970. Sound-Space alloy 6.5.3 KAIT Workshop, Junya Ishigami, 2008. Alloy of architectural fields 6.5.4 Some notes on the examples above Chapter 5 Colophon (Or the Spatial Regimes of Architectural Ontologies) 1 A brief summary. 2 Methodological and ontological implications. 3 The extended possibility spaces of the classical canon: Diagram, Process, Duration. 4 The ontological regimes of architectural production

About the Author

Miguel Paredes Maldonado is a Lecturer in Architectural Design at the University of Edinburgh, a chartered architect in the UK and a partner in award-winning research and design studio Cuartoymitad Architecture & Landscape. He taught at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid before relocating to Edinburgh in 2013. In the recent past he has been visiting faculty at the Università degli studi di Cagliari, the School of Architecture at Taliesin and the Technische Universität Graz.

Miguel’s research is articulated through writing, speculative design and architectural practice. His enquiries operate at the intersection of computational media, the development of contemporary urban commons, and New Materialism as applied to design theory. As a body of design research, his work has been published and exhibited internationally, most notably at the 11th and 16th editions of the Venice Biennale.

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Routledge Research in Architecture

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