John Massengale has been getting understandably upset about the work of the Kolatan / MacDonald studio. And so he should, it’s a fine example of how we architects love to make hard work out of something as simple as putting a few sentences together. Look:

We have two primary interests in the chimerical. One has to do with its seeming capability as a concept to help define existing phenomena of fairly complex hybridity in which categorically different systems somehow operate as a single identity. The other, is based on the assumption that the ways in which chimera are constituted and operate hold clues to a transformatively aggregative model of construction/production. That is to say, an aggregation which becomes more than the sum of its parts, and therefore is not reducible to its constituent parts. Thus, the chimerical has the potential to be both an analytical and methodological tool. In combination, the two models offer an opportunity to link dissipative/aggregative operations to transformative ones with the co-citation analog identifying similarities between unrelated sites/structures/programs, and the chimerical analog employing these initial similarities to construct new sites/structures/programs. While existing categories might cease to be useful, the paradigm of the network/chimera has the potential to open up an entire new range of previously inconceivable kinds of structures for which no names exist as of yet.

Come again?

Translation: Folksonomic tag clusters.

Isn’t Web 2.0 great? It’s even helping to unravel overly complicated architectural theory. If you’d like to read more about the paradigm of the network/chimera without feeling like you’ve had your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick1, the tag clusters thesis and visualizations seem like a fine place to start.

According to the readability test at however, the Kolatan / MacDonald Studio work isn’t all that bad. It scores the following:

  • Gunning Fog Index 12.93
  • Flesch Reading Ease 44.04
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade 8.63

You’ll see from the marking system on the site that it doesn’t even make the cut as an academic paper on the fog index table. Try harder next time.

Happily, I can announce that cuddly, approachable no, 2 self scores as follows.

  • Gunning Fog Index 7.90
  • Flesch Reading Ease 68.71
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade 5.18

Giving us a fog index somewhere in between The Bible and Reader’s Digest. Thank God.

Readability has been on my mind a lot lately as I’ve once again been beaten by the book I’ve attempted many times since I bought it about five years ago – Robert Harbison’s Theoretical Investigations in Architecture. Every year I try it and every year it drives me round the twist. I shall admit defeat.

It’s architectural history without all that tedious mucking about with such cumbersome structures as chronological order. Harbison roams freely around using only the indentation of a new paragraph to signal gargantuan leaps in time and space. Very non-linear2. Very mid-nineties. Very bloody annoying. Writing this now I realise it’s also a lot like an attempt to link dissipative/aggregative operations to transformative ones with the co-citation analog identifying similarities between unrelated sites/structures/programs, as Kolatan / MacDonald would say, albeit rather clumsily.

It appears, to my dismay, that I’m just not built for it. Launched on a new trajectory by the sudden shift in subject my mind seems to just keep going, bouncing off the page and coming to rest in the mists of a reverie about something entirely different. Custard, for example. The tram doors slide open and I’ve arrived at work without returning my eyes to the page. It needs something to structure it. Some form of notation.

It’s yours if you want it. Mail me.

Tomorrow evening I shall be rubbing shoulders with the great and the good at CABE’s offices in London for the Europan awards ceremony. Be on the look out for some on the spot moblogging.

Following that I’ll be out looking for the moblogging spot. It’s the 2nd birthday party for and we’ll be in The Canteloupe bar in Shoreditch. There’s even a web cam.

I’ll be the one in the t-shirt that says ‘Architecture Sucks‘.3

2. related entry: non-linear canals
3. unless my current level of bravado has ebbed away by morning