(In)Forming Patterns | Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem

(In)Forming Patterns


‘(In)Forming Patterns’ is an online symposium organized by the Bezalel Department of Architecture and Urbanism and MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab.

״Architecture is creation of patterns״ - Alfred Neumann, 1966.

״Against the dangers inherent in the urban situation man was guarded in antiquity, and even more powerfully in prehistoric times, by the regenerative and reconciling pattern of the town itself.״ - Joseph Rykwert, 1967.

Whether through physical form or spatial organization, cities and buildings produce patterns. While some patterns are imagined and employed by designers in order to generate physical forms, structures and spaces, others inform the design process in a different way. During the 1960s, patterns played a central role for architects and urbanists, both in practice and in research, in an attempt to tackle the unknown and daunting complexities of a rapidly changing post-war world. Inspired and reacting to the rise of cybernetics and information technologies during the early decades of the Cold War, theorists and practitioners took a fresh look at the overwhelming phenomena of a changing world. Questioning the tension between pattern as system versus pattern as form, their findings were translated into pattern-based forms of practice. More than half of a century later, the role that data and its analysis plays in our lives has become significantly more pervasive and overwhelming, with the COVID-19 crisis making this condition ever more visible. Scrutinously following statistics of viral infection in graphs, waves, maps, probabilities and behavioral patterns, we cling to the attempts of scientists to make sense of the surrounding chaos. On the urban scale we see the rise of scenario planning,  the translation of data into planning principles and projects, and a desire to quantify, analyze and predict with the slightest margin of error, what urban futures hold. In architecture, new technologies of data mining, recombination and parametric design have become a powerful base not only for novel form-making, but more significantly for orchestrating changing patterns as a renewed attempt at providing clues for an even more complex, unstable and unpredictable world.

The symposium (In)Forming Patterns seeks to question the contemporary significance of patterns to the disciplines of architecture, urbanism and landscape architecture. How are designers thinking about / using patterns today and what can we learn from modernist examples of pattern thinking in architecture and urbanism? At our age of exponential growth and access to  digital information and as artificial intelligence is becoming an essential part of our daily lives, we wish to ask: with their multiple appearances and effects, what do patterns mean for the design of the built environment today? With their capacity to form new alliances and configurations of social, cultural, economic and ultimately spatial systems in mind, (In)Forming Patterns opens a renewed discussion of patterns in architectural and urban design.

Monday | June 28 | 10am EST / 5pm Jerusalem

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