Architectural Curvilinearity The Folded the Pliant – Issue of Architectural Design

In 1993, Greg Lynn guest-edited an issue of Architectural Design dedicated to an emerging movement in architecture: folding. Lynn, a Los Angeles-based architect/educator with a background in philosophy and an attraction to computer-aided design, was the ideal person to organize this publication and, in effect, define the fold in architecture, a concept that generated intense interest during the remainder of the decade.

In his contributory essay, “Architectural Curvilinearity: The Folded, the Pliant and the Supple,” Lynn ties together a variety of sources—including the work of Gilles Deleuze, René Thom, cooking theory, and geology—to present an alternative to existing architectural theory and practice. He states that since the mid-1960s architecture has been guided by the notion of contradiction, whether through attempts to formally embody heterogeneity or its opposite; in short, postmodernism and decon- structivism can be understood as two sides of the same coin. Yet, for Lynn, “neither the reactionary call for unity nor the avant-garde dismantling of it through the identification of internal contradic- tions seems adequate as a model for contemporary architecture and urbanism.” Rather, he offers a smooth architecture (in both avisual and a mathematic sense) composed of combined yet dis- crete elements that are shaped by forces outside the architectural discipline, much as diverse ingredients are folded into a smooth mixture by a discerning chef. This new architecture, what Lynn calls a pliant, flexible architecture, exploits connections between elements within a design instead of emphasizing contradictions or attempting to erase them all together. Of equal importance is that this architecture is inextricably entwined with external
forces, both cultural and contextual. Architects deploy various

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