How Should Works a Good Architectural Firm?


Gilles Deleuze, again in the little book on Spinoza, provides us with a way to think about how practices become more intelligent and therefore better able to adapt to and transform their environments and worlds. Following Spinoza, he defines the body as any corporeal arrangement composed of an infinite number of parts or particles held together when the particles move in unison at the same speed. He says a body can be anything, an animal, a body of sounds, a mind and idea, even, perhaps, an architectural office. He also says that a body has the capacity to affect and be affected by other bodies. Bodies are more or less powerful, more or less able, in other words, to effect change in their environment, depending on the degree to which they are capable of being affected by their environment.
Deleuze’s theory of the affective body is exactly the same as management thinker Arie De Geus’s argument for what he calls ‘the living company’, a corporate entity that becomes more powerful and resilient precisely to the degree that it ‘learns’ from its environment. If an architectural office is such a body or living company, then there is a kind of distributed design intelligence that binds or holds the office together, that allows it to remain coherent, but that also allows it to affect and in turn be affected. An office or practice thus becomes more powerful to the degree that it transforms external information, even information that seems contrary to ‘the problem at hand’ into distributed intelligence. Welcoming external information, being affected, as Bateson and others have shown, positively rather than negatively impacts the organisation of a body because it forces it to rearrange its resting speed, creating, in turn, a more complex, variable arrangement.
If architecture is to remain relevant it must also adapt and learn to see innovation where it arises- often non the periphery or outside the limits of its own body.

Castle, H. (2002, Sept/Oct). Design Intelligence: or Thinking After the End of Metaphysics. Architectural Design, pp. 5.

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