Firmitas vs. the Unstable

The implications of Firmitas / Stability in Vitruvius’s “De Architectura” went originally beyond the purely tectonic. Firmitas was related to certain permanence in terms of both form and organization. A critical role was played by the classical notion of equilibrium. In its original meaning, Firmitas relates to static, mono-functional architectures.

As opposed, unstable architectures are characterized by their variability, their capacity to alter its properties along time, to allow for the existence of local deformations and adaptive behaviors. This organizational structure points toward the idea of field conditions: non-hierarchical, extensive structures whose components display seclusive properties. Thus, resiliency, hybridization and smoothness would be the qualities of an actualization of the architectural Firmitas.

Reiser & Umemoto. BMW Delivery Center

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