“Life is at the edge of chaos”, as Stuart Kauffman said. We are currently living in a complex network where systems & structures are changing constantly all cities formation & cultural ‘place’ turning it into a ‘condition’. These changes created new ways of understanding the world & interpreting the modern & postmodern architect’s point of view & way of work. Some who extremely thought of the grid work as the directed, disciplined & exact, where it functions as an instrument for rationalizing to control nature, whereas others worked on proving that architecture is an entry to the understanding of complex dynamics of network culture.
The collapse of the Berlin wall shifts the society’s face from industrial to an information one, but as Taylor said, the importance of walls & multinational, informational, & digital capitalism was to provide security & allow diversion to form a new network culture. By showing the architecture of Mies Van De Rohe, Venturi & Gehry we will be able to trace the movement of industrial society, to media culture, to network culture.
To begin with, the symbol of the Cold War system was the wall, which divided everyone, whereas the symbol of globalization is the World Wide Web which unites everyone. Comparing these two systems, we can show the differences between ‘grids’ and ‘networks’ which clarifies the transition from the cold war system to the network culture. The cold war system was designed to maintain stability by the use of grids with clear & precise oppositions to impose control, order, whereas the network system links, relates, connects where nobody is in control anymore; this is the moment of complexity reaching the edge of chaos. The relation between chaos & complexity is to close the linear, grid system & create an abstract world. The moment of complexity is the medium in which network culture is emerging. The grid figure is modernism. According to Le Corbusier modern art & thought are seeking beyond what is merely accidental. Geometry leads men to mathematical forms & more generalized attitude. He preferred the man’s way on Pack-Donkey’s way. He believed that destroying everything that is natural & premodern will create the space of modernity. Moreover, he imposed that philosophy, art, & life intersect in the architecture of the grid where straight lines represent the strict discipline. He claimed that building on a clear site will replace the ‘accidental’ layout of the ground. On the other hand, Mies said that the task of creating order out of chaos is never complete; he continued to believe that architecture must be socially effective as well as aesthetically satisfying by embodying the analytic simplicity & rational organization of modern industrial society, as the work he did for the Seagram Building.
Hitchcock & Johnson describe the new architecture by ‘absence of ornament’, ‘functionalism’, ‘principle of order’ and, ‘the formal simplification of complexity’. As for Venturi, he envisioned architecture that anticipates the moment of complexity to define a network culture. Orthodox modern architects idealized the primitive & elementary instead of diverse & sophisticate. Venturi differentiated the modern & post modern by saying that in the modern there’s the use of pure architecture with an easy image & whole, whereas the postmodern used the mixed media to create the difficult image where the city became processed. His architectural revision remained bound to & by industrialism. He seemingly believed that abstract forms & structures are ornamented images that reflect aesthetic values. For Venturi, the shift from a simple orderly life to a complex, ironic one, is what every individual passes through to be mature. His differentiation between simplicity & complexity is the differentiation of high modernism from post modernism, therefore the presence of grids which might have worked in industrial society, won’t work in a network culture.
When Gehry started the Catia software program he was able to morph the grids into dynamic forms rather than rigid ones, organic rather than mechanical, complex rather than simple. This created complex structures embodying another geometry figures set in motion to give a movement form, far from static structure. The difference between Venturi & Gehry is the symptomatic social changes (telematics, media, cirtuality & information) which occurred in the 1960s. Gehry used the business of art to create an extraordinary environment. These forms & images that lost equilibrium approached the edge of chaos where complexity occurs.
As a conclusion, architecture is based on not only grid nor network culture, it is based on both. Let’s not prefer one on another because uniting both will build solutions for all functional & structural problems we face in all cities.