In philosophy the relationship between matter and form has traditionally been considered of a highly architectural nature. Take, for instance, Aristotle’s concept of hylemorphism, where matter is considered raw and passive, which can only be formed by casting it into a mold. That mold, of course, is the world of the mind, of concepts and of mental constructs, in short, of design. In that philosophy, something only gets built when it has been thought out beforehand. The reverse model, which is often called morphogenetic, views matter itself as active and formative, and in a way, as thinking for itself. This is a well-known model in biology, though not in architecture and engineering. Since digital technologies have been pervading architectural design, however, the possibilities of architecture to side with matter have improved enormously. Many questions remain though, not only how to incorporate matter in design, but also what the effects on design would be, and moreover, what the effects on architecture would be. In a world where more and more architects design by recombining pre-existing products we need to ask ourselves urgently how we connect to materiality and rediscover its inherent freedom.

1) Opening Remarks by George Johnston (Chair and Professor of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology)

2) “Introduction: Vagueness of Parts” Lars Spuybroek, architect; Professor of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology. Author of The Architecture of Continuity, The Sympathy of Things.

3) “Re-origination of Urban Matter” Peter Trummer, urbanist; Professor of Urban Design, University of Innsbruck. Head of the Institute of Urban Design.

4) “The Textility of Making” Tim Ingold, anthropologist; Chair and Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen. Author of Lines, Making, The Perception of the Environment, Being Alive.

5) “Tesselated Envelopes” Alejandro Zaera-Polo, architect; Dean and Professor Princeton University. Director of AZPML Barcelona and London. Author of Phylogenesis, The Sniper’s Log.

6) Panel Discussion

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