Defining Architecture

All “architecture” is a building of some kind, “architecture” describes certain kinds of buildings. So what buildings are just buildings and what buildings are “architecture”?

For a building to be called “Architecture” it must encompass something in addition to being a technically excellent building; an additional property, quality, or characteristic. The essence of this additional quality lies in the way the patterns of the material components, and the spaces created, interact with one another to allow new relationships to emerge that evoke an  emotional response.

Just as in the way a poem is more than words, or mathematics is more than numbers, or a piece of music is more than sounds, architecture is more than building materials and spaces.
Patterns occur in the organization of the material and spaces of a building. They are generated by different mechanisms or functional requirements, such as structural requirements, the amount, function, & configurations of floor areas, floor finishes, the entry of people & light, shedding rain, the size of a human, ….the list has many elements in many layers of scale.

“Architecture” is an emergent phenomenon from the integrative relationships that occur between the patterns of all physical elements; relationships revealed by light and the motion, purpose, and awareness of the observer. These relationships carry emotional power when they embody and exemplify the same generalized principals that govern nature and that created the material world as we know it.

What is”Architecture”?

The intent is to establish a definition of “Architecture”that incorporates the underlying generalized principals of nature & that also accounts for the emotional content of the spatial, material,structural,and color patterns in architecture. This definition would have implications for both a design process and education.

Quantum Mechanics has proven to be the most trustworthy description of the forms of Energy and Order which at the deepest level and smallest scales interact to create the universe. Four basic phenomena derive from Energy & Order:Patterns,Space,Geometry,& Synergy.
Pattern: An ordered array of elements, including forms of matter(mass) & energy.
Space: The apparent absence of matter(mass) at certain scales above the fundamental particles of the quantum matrix.
Geometry: Categorizes and makes precise the realms of patterns in Space.
Synergy: Patterns of energy combine in in countless ways to form stable and unstable configurations, in some of these configurations new characteristics emerge that are unpredictable from the characteristics of the component patterns. This is Synergy. It is a weightless relationship. The nucleus of the atom is a synergistic pattern of the fundamental quantum matrix. It is very stable.
“Life” is a synergistic pattern that is unstable, maintaining its patterns with energy from the sun through the evolved biosphere. Life is physically composed of inanimate particles,life is an “Emergent Synergistic Relationship”.

Energy,Order,Pattern,Geometry,Synergy: These are the primary phenomenon. Secondary realms involve scale, gravity,energy conservation( the second law of thermodynamics), molecular biology,membranes,thresholds,evolution, perceptions,brain functions,strength of materials.
As “humans”we are not born “into” this world, we born “out of it”; a small part of the myriad patterns of the flux of energy at all scales.

Synergy occurs in nature, in the way the universe works. Man occurs in Nature. Synergy is a natural phenomenon; at the nuclear, atomic, molecular, and biological scale levels of ordering.

Synergy occurs when relationships involving organizing patterns create new qualities that are not predictable from the nature of the materials, or the patterns of the material and spaces making up the elements before the synergistic event. Biologists have referred to this as an “emergent phenomenon”.

All Synergistic events involve the laws of “Energy” & “Order”.

There are a number of “secondary phenomena” that are involved when Synergy is most likely to occur;
Thresholds of Scale Change, Changes in Pattern Geometry, Conservation of Energy, Decrease of Entropy, Membranes (the division of the world into inside and outside).
Synergy occurs in the developmental processes in the evolution of matter, forces, and fields; in the scaling transformations from the quantum matrix to the world of matter that we live in as organisms.

Synergy in Architecture is in the complex set of “relationships ” between the components of the building; the suitability of their presence as a component, the suitability of the patterns of organization for the materials, the efficiency of the structure, the lack of redundancies, and the inevitability of the patterns of the plan and structure to fulfill their purpose most efficiently.

The best analogy is music, which orchestrates patterns of rhythm, melody, and harmony. Music even uses some of the same words to describe itself.
Music creates an emotional response, music is patterns of relationships in time, music is synergistic.
Architecture creates an emotional response, architecture is patterns of relationships in space, architecture is synergistic.
It is the “synergy”created by the architecture’s basic elements, that elicit a human emotional response.

In Western musical composition the basic elements are melody, harmony, and rhythm. In architecture the basic elements are light, movement, space, and structure. Music occurs in time, architecture in space and time.  In both cases something additional and new is created. There is a “relationship” between the parts that comes into being, and is perceivable by the senses, but that is weightless and measureless.

“INANIMATE” Carbon 60 Molecule              “ANIMATE” Rotovirus reconstruction


“Relationships“ weigh nothing. “Thoughts” weigh nothing. “Life” weighs nothing. But they exist as a part of the universe.  Similarly“Architecture” is created by the relationships of the patterns of the building elements , analogous to the way “life” is created from patterns of inanimate atomic particles that form the molecules of “living” cells, or symphonies are created from patterns of sound.

Part of the "old" brain

Humans recognize and respond to pattern in architecture and music, with the old parts of the brain first, the parts associated with emotion and memory; we relate to patterns in the visual field and in the auditory realm with the “old brain”, the amygdala, first, and then do the analysis in the neo cortex.
The amygdala and organs around it are millions of years old, and are the centers of emotion and memory. Pattern seeking and recognition, memory, and the emotive force to drive response are valuable to the survival of any organism, and are a vital part of how we react to the world.

In the proportions and patterns of natural phenomenon we respond emotionally first, and then intellectually, to  the existence of an ordering discipline at work, and recognize the miraculous and seemingly limitless generative power of natural forces, materials, laws, and proportions to create patterns.

The “patterns  of nature” embody and exemplify  the “nature of the universe”.Works of “Architecture”, by embodying an “Order”, or organizing principal, can create synergistic “patterns” of materials and spaces, evoking a sense of well being, calmness, and connectedness to the universe in the same way that natural patterns can elicit this response.


Humans, like all other organisms evolved from molecular patterns in a world bathed in the electromagnetic wave energy from the sun ,and at some point 450 million years ago these organisms developed the ability to sense certain wavelengths(patterns) of this energy. The visible spectrum.

We are tuned to the some of the most elemental patterns in the universe, the wave patterns of the visible spectrum; the molecular / electromagnetic visual process.

Squid  Eye.   Fish & reptiles developed sight and pattern recognition long before mammals came along.


Evolution does not throw away any useful functionality , and the archipellium(reptilian) brain, paleopallium, (mammal brain), and neopallium(rational or neo mammalian brain), have been incorporated in the human brain. The centers of emotion and memory from the old lizard and mammal brain are the Amygdala, Entorhinal Cortex, and the Hippocampus;  these areas are now interconnected in the human brain to the neopallium (cerebral cortex.)

 At the level of pattern recognition that any organism needs to successfully exist, there is also a built -in pattern seeking mechanism. The reptile brain, mammal brain, and primate brain, as retained portions of the human brain, are hard wired genetically to seek patterns, and order in their environment.

These patterns are valuable information to an organism to survive in its environment.

We are  predisposed to look for an ordering in the world, and PATTERNS are processed FIRST in the centres of emotion and memory in the “mammal brain”.(amygdyla / hippocampus,etc), then in the cerebral cortex and then typically re-interpreted in the symbolic terms of language and mathematics. (Subjective analysis and evaluation).

Some things don’t have a name, they are relationships, and are experienced pre-linguistically in the old parts of the brain. Patterns can embody meaning and emotional content that are too complex to be describable in “words”(symbols) in the neo-cortex.

Patterns in buildings are composed of colored and textured materials and related spaces, revealed by light and the motion of the observer.

Works of Architecture can create a complex composition of  “patterns” that embody a “synergistic  ordering principal”.

The recognition of the synergistic relationships in the ordering patterns of materials, spaces, light, texture, and color connects directly to our center of emotions and memory and creates a  sense of well being, calmness, and connectedness to the universe in the same way that natural patterns do.


Religions have confused this sense of “wholeness with the one” that we experience looking at patterns in nature, with “holiness”. They are continuing to fight wars about what god is responsible for it, and all the rules you have to follow to get it, and how much you have to pay for it.

Water makes patterns of light on the sand, and on our souls.



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