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The Structure of Vagueness

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Frei Otto and his team studied an “optimized path system” which is similar to Gaudi’s chain modelling for Sagrada Familia. Finding-form process is shaped by transformation which means analog computing. All materials are solid or liquid and the process has started out as liquid, ending up with structurally solid but it has reached the movement of architecture.

Step1: Mapping the targets with euclidean geometry. Connect all the points

Step2: Overlenght %8 because of detours in cities

Step3: Dip the system in water. In this way, wet threads will have tendencies to stick to each other. Even if it seems accidental, it is a variation of the system.

The system starts out with euclidean geometry but at the end materiality has included which creates a geometry consisting of gaps crossing and merging. First stage could explain strict frozen rigidity, however it ends soft and complex rigidity which is different from top-down, form generating strategy.

In classical Greek grid, the infractural system, material structure and movements are thought as separated. Structure is solid, movement is liquid. Structurally solid grids can be explained as frozen geometry which is initially and simply a strategy learnt by people. Even Though geometry requires borders and certainty, it is completely vague. In Frei Otto’s wet grid, geometry coevolved with materiality. Movements absorbed structurally by system, eventually movements create a dry system which is a movement of architecture. Even though it is static, it is the result of a dynamic process. Author states movement is information for designing systems, movements are parameters of design which come from environmental factors.

Flexibility has always been part of architectural design. During modernism, flexibility causes undetermined architecture and non sufficient openness. Openness generalizes for all types of events and it results in losing individuality. Even though miesien openness is open for everything, it creates passive space. Dry grid related to Miesien box which is designed for everything but it is adequate at the average. When movements as information which give chance to unexpected events are excluded from design, flexibility strategy remains passive.

In human scale, the author asked “how does the body’s flexibility relate to architecture’s flexibility?” In a dry grid, the body works as a library which stores all the movements, habits. However, in a wet grid, the body seems like a landscape of complex behaviour. In modern neurology, the body is described as a wet computer. Therefore, the designing process should not be separated from movements as information coming from the environment and humans. Movements are sources of flexibility and it creates vagueness but vagueness is the stage of limitless possibilities.


Lary Spuybroek, (2005), The Structure of Vagueness, TEXTILE, 3:1, 6-19

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