Make your own free website on

Lebbeus Woods is trained as an architect and an engineer, and has worked for Eero Saarinen and Associates and in private practice. In 1976, he turned to theory and experimental projects and co-founded the New York based Research Institute for Experimental Architecture. He has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Columbia, and The Cooper Union. A book on his work, LEBBEUS WOODS Anarchitecture: Architecture is a Political Act, is available from Academy Editions/St. Martin's Press.

=> Crucial question <=
What is an inconsistent pattern? The cities of an experimental culture will be formed on inconsistent patterns, and will produce them. These will be their chief products, the result of a way of living driven by the need for clarity on shifting landscapes of the ephemeral.

Within the historical and hierarchical city, the heterarchical city-the free-zone-is constructed. This is one level of inconsistency. But there is a deeper one-within the heterarchical city, another city of unknown shape and substance is constructed-the city which cannot be named. Its inhabitants are those who do not fit patterns at all. Their names are known, but beg to be forgotten. Experimentalists in experience, they leave no forwarding address.

Politics of construction:
Who designs, who builds, who owns, who inhabits? The architect who designs building types is a pyramid builder, who follows the hidden forms already inscribed by those expressing and dominating others, and who benefit by conventions, conformity, and all adherence to the rules of the normative. The inhabitants are on the lowest level of the game. They receive what has been given, yet bear all the weight of the superstructure above. Who are the inhabitants? The architect who designs building non-types-the freespaces of unknown purpose and meaning-inverts the pyramid and creates new ones. Each inhabitant is an apex, placed on end, a point of personal origin. Each pyramid expands into a void of time, seeking its base, its terminus, that would render the volume whole, total and coherent. But the base recedes before the advancing volume of experience, resisting completion. In the indeterminate darkness of the void, many pyramids interpenetrate and dissolve, one into others. They form a flux, a matrix of indeterminacy, an inconsistent pattern, a city of unknown origin and destiny, a politics not of being, but of becoming. Ontogenetics. Social justice is not an issue of masses, but of individuals. If the mass is satisfied with its salutes, but an individual suffers, can there be justice-in human terms? To answer 'yes' is to justify oppression, for there are always people willing to lose themselves in a mass at the expense of some person who is not willing to do so. To construct a just society, it is precisely this lone person who must first receive justice. Call this person the inhabitant. Call this person yourself.

No one wants to discuss the relationship between architecture and politics. It is an unsavoury subject. All those politicians, all that rhetoric, mixed with the timeless verities embodied in the noble forms of architecture. Yet the resistance to enter this discussion is not noble at all. All architects are deeply involved in their work with the political, whether or not they admit it to others, or to themselves. Most architects in this highly commercial era, who accept commissions and clients that affect public life, are in fact committed to supporting political systems. Only a handful work against it, because they believe it is regressive in terms of architecture or society, or both. It is no wonder that the majority of architects avoid the political implications of their work. They believe themselves to be creators, or innovators, when in actuality they are nothing more nor less than the executors of a physical and social order designed by those institutions presently holding political authority and power. The practice of architecture today is protected from confrontation with changing political conditions in the world within a hermetically sealed capsule of professionalism, which ostensibley exists to protect its high standards from the corrupting influence of political expediency and merely topical concerns. Architects themselves are complicit with this lie to the extent that they know it is enforced by the very institutions and individuals who commission the buildings they design, and who have a profound economic and social interest in maintaining a status quo in which they hold highest authority. Professionalism separates architects from people and their need to change the conditions of their existence, which is the essence of all politics. Far from protecting high standards of architecture, this separation impoverishes architectural work, reducing its productions to tokens of power, at best, and-at worst-to instruments of destruction.

The best architects today have few commissions, or none at all. Of course, they want to build, but are dismissed by the institutions and individuals most threatened by the actual content of their work: an explicit manifestation of the will to change the conditions of existence and the architectural means to do it.

It is only recently that I have begun to speak and write about the essentially political nature of architecture, much to the disapproval of friends and colleagues who think the most worthy architecture is above politics. I, too, would like in a time-capsule of 'unageing intellect', as Yeats wrote of his beloved Byzantium. But-like him-I am unable to do so, an am compelled more and more to live and work in the precise, often painful dimensions of the present. Since 1985, my projects have been a step-by-step immersion into the world as it is-not as I, or Yeats, or anyone else who by nature is idealistic, might wish it to be. With increasing decisiveness, these projects propose new social structures, implemented by new urban forms and architectures, intended to be realised within existing cities. They are inherently political, both in their rejection of existing social forms and proposal of new ones. The vagueness of the new ones has been intentional, as they are essentially anarchical societies, lacking in centralised political structure, centring instead on 'the individual' as the irreducible atom of community and culture.

My work has developed and changed in the past ten years, precisely because change and development of the forms of knowledge-and their effect on social and political structure-are its principal themes at both the scale of the building and the scale of the city. In my projects for Four Cities of 1981-82, AEON of 1983-84 and A City of 1985-86, Euclidian geometries were woven into rational two-and-three-dimensional matrices of cyclical-or recursive-transformations. I felt that a limit was reached by the rational formalisms of these studies, which placed them, finally, too much in the realm of deterministic idealisation-they were incompatible with what became my own understanding of the nondeterministic nature of knowledge, and with it, the necessity of indeterminate anarchical social and political forms. In the Centricity project (1987), I introduced into a city of many centres-an already anti-hierarchical city-geometries of a more indeterminate nature, flowing from a hidden source of unpredictable change- call it 'the mystery of human inventiveness'-manifest in the always restless and unpredictable thoughts and desires and actions of individuals. In the projects that followed-Underground Berlin (1988), Aerial Paris (1989), Berlin-Free-Zone (1990), Zagreb-Free-Zone (1991), and Double Landscape, Viennal(1991)- this experiment was continued with one crucial, and obvious, difference: actual cities form the rationalised, over-determined matrix, while free-zones and freespaces-as I have come to call an architecture of indeterminacy-form the matrix of unpredictable possibilities for culture, social and political transformation latent in human knowledge and invention. In all these projects of the past ten years, there is an impulse towards a new comprehensiveness, without the old necessity for a totality, a complete, predigested wholeness. These projects have the ambition to be a 'second nature', a fully realised, but deeply indeterminate human nature-a terra nova.

My emphasis on 'individuals' in the projects and my writing about them has left me open to criticism for being a right-wing thinker and architect, one who is not interested in issues of overall social justice or reform, but only in an elite who might occupy privileged positions of power and authority, by virtue of their self-serving ruthlessness, their solipsistic exercise of inventive faculties and capacities. I was shocked when this charge was made to me by a member of the audience at a symposium last year. But, to some extent, this is a just criticism, at least to th extent that heterarchy-the political form these anarchical projects seek to establish-can become the soil for authoritarian regimes, which are always cults of a particular personality. But I am against all authoritarian regimes, and against all authoritarians. I am interested only in the authority of individual acts and moments on a continually shifting landscape of acts and authority-the landscape of the free-zone. On this landscape, no individual holds authority for long, because individual acts are ephemeral. There is, in this, an existential beauty, the type of beauty that cannot be grasped and held like a commodity, in fact, beauty which does not pretend to be eternal and universal. On a landscape of ephemeral beauty, no form and no individual holds authority for long, because no institution-political, social or culture-exists to codify authority.

The role of architecture on this landscape is instumental, not expressive. It is a tool extending individual capacities to do, to think, to know, to become, but also to pass away, to become an echo, a vestige, a soil for other acts, moments, individuals. Existential beauty is destroyed by the impulse to possess, to own, to contain, to hold fast, therefore to dominate. Expression is possession, the manifestation of a lust for domination. Any attempt to express in a form an idea to it is an attempt to arrest the idea in time, to control it beyond its life. I despise all such 'expressionism', and none more than that which appropriates ineffable symbols, archetypes-in fact, types of any kind. These are the most vain and tyrannical attempts to eternalise the ephemeral. My emphasis on individuals focuses on their autonomy, which has meaning only within the context of heteros-an other. Dialogue is an essential aspect of heterarchy, as are other forms of interaction between people, and between people and things, such as buildings and spaces for living and work, such as the city itself. By contrast, in the hierarchical city-the city of the hieros, the holy-dialogue is always overshadowed by the monologues of authority, which issue from the apex of social and political pyramids of authority in the city and filter down, 'trickle down' (to borrow an infamous term of economics from the American Right) to the broad base of the city's life. In the hierarchical city, it is possible to imagine one simply 'being in it', utterly alienated from others-but in the heterarchical city, while one may choose to be isolated, the free flow of dialogue, unimpeded by monological authority, makes alienation unlikely. The difference between the hierarchical and the heterarchical city is the difference between being and becoming. Dialogue precludes an entirely self-consistent system of thought or of architecture. Any such system is only monological, tautological, authoritarian, because it insists on belief above all else. Instead, I embrace systems admittedly incomplete, therefore tolerant of self-contradiction, self-paradox, self-reference, which-without dialogue-could not exist at all. Heteros is the essence of the free-zone and free-space projects, hence also of dialogue and the politics that spring from it. These projects advocate the establishment of architectural activity that participates actively in dialogical political changes, assuming a role beyond that which architecture presently plays. It will not be enough for such an architecture to simply follow events and give them an appropriate architectural form. Rather, architecture must initiate events, even very aggressively foment them. The architect is not, in this case, a detached professional, upholding timeless values, but an instigator, an agitator, an active participant. One does not participate by following the crisis of change, but by being part of its initiation.

The architect's mandate for assuming such responsibility is, first of all, his or her mandate as a human being living in the contemporary world. The moral and ethical fabric of society has change today from blind service to a hierarchy of authority, in whatever form, to a conscious personal responsibility for the condition of the world and others in it. Thus, the basis for making architecture has also definitely shifted. Today it is more ethical to actively propose new ways and conditions of living in which one can personally believe, than to represent by architectural or other means those ways and conditions the architect considers diminished or degraded, or those that change has clearly rendered outmoded and regressive. It is not possible to cooperate with the present economic and political systems for the design and construction of architecture inherently opposed to any form of status quo. The relentless commercialism characteristic of these systems works against the realisation of an architecture initiating change in exactly the same way as it does against change itself: by its appropriation as new status quo. An architecture of the new must grow from a new conceptual ground, one having to do with the dramatic and sometimes violent changes that mark the present era. A new architecture for an era of radical changes in private and public life must actively participate in the establishment of new economic and political systims for the design and construction of buildings, and for the continued transformation of human communities around the world. This does not necessarily mean that the architect must propose a new society, though it might. At the least, it means that the architect must propose programmatic elements within a client's building programme, to account for qualities for which the architect, not the client, is responsible. It certainly means walking away from commissions to design types of buildings that neglect or subvert these qualities. More rarely, it may mean walking away from a practice of architecture altogether, in order to pursue personal research or experimentation.

My projects are concerned with the invention of new conditions of living. They are deeply political in nature, yet anti-ideological, in that they do not follow a programme for social relationships established a priori. Instead they develop an architecture of continuous transformation for its own sake, thereby undermining the very possibility of dogma in any form. Fixed social forms dissolve in the turbulences of change in the spatial and temporal boundaries established by architecture, projecting a society fluid in form, wholly dependent on the poise and ingenuity of individuals continually confronting new conditions. This fulfills the ethical and moral emperatives explicit in the sceptical, even pessimistic, spirit of the present age. Responsibility for the condition of both self and the world is fixed in each individual being. No system can be trusted. Any ideology is a betrayal. Only through the transformation of self can community be established. Architecture becomes a political act of intensely personal meaning. Architecture as an instrument of transformation embraces with equal intensity of feeling and thought all conditions of physicality. It has no taste for the metaphysical, but is relentlessly materialisitic. The visible and unvisible are terms referring to bands on the electromagnetic spectrum. Thus the self-referentiality of transformation is established, the recursive loop between invention and perception given its mechanics. The comforts of tautology and solipsism are voided by dialogue: individual existence is confirmed only by and in an other. By establishing boundaries, an architecture of transformation demands their violation. As electronic technology extends perception of the invisible, the visible necessarily becomes more precious, more intense. The architecture of tactility cannot be separated from the architecture of ephemerality, either in concept or in implementation. Steel and the images on a computer screen are of the same material, perceived differently, each requiring the extremities inherent in their separate material presences. In my projects, architecture is an instrumentation of the ephemeral penetrates more deeply into the very small, the very large, the very far, the very fast. The dialogical play of architecture and technology is inevitably epistemological and social, personal and political.

On a bright and clear day in July, 1987, I was driven to a favela in the Morumbi sector of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The labyrinth os shacks extended down a hill on the crest of which stood tall, white apartment houses, towers of the rich, commanding a valley of the poor. The newspaper and telivision reporters who took me there wondered what the reaction might be of a first-world architect to this local social diagram. It was late morning. The winter air was warm. We drove together down the hill on a rough dirt path that led into a small open space in the labbrinth. Children were playing in the dirt and sunshine, and a few teenagers stood about. They looked up as the car stopped and we got out, stepping into the ragged square. Their parents, I was told by the reporters, were away at jobs in the many busy factories of Sao Paulo, jobs that had drawn them to this place from the vast rural regions of Brazil. Because there was no housing for them, and no schools, and no medical care, they banded together, and built the favelas. The children stayed there during the day and into the night, waiting for the adults to return.

Here there was no electricity, no running water, no sewage system to take away human waste or the water from storms that rake this hillside, washing away from time to time the more fragil parts of their fragile city. The small houses themselves were constructed of as many different materials as their builders could scavange from the waste of the city-shard of wood, metal, cardboard, plastic, fastened tenuously together to form walls and roofs. I walked around for a few minutes, looking into one open house, then returned quickly to the dirt square. There a crowd of children had gathered, silently watching me. The reporters had taken a video camera from their car. One aimed it at me, while the other asked if I could please move a little to the right, so I could framed against the shacks and the white towers above. I walked towards the car and told them we should go. As we climbed into the car, a few rocks smacked its side. The driver shoved it into gear and we rode up the rough path, the rocks and bottles picking up their tempo. As we reached the well-paved street above, the reporters asked me what architectural recommentations I would make to affect the conditions we had just seen. I answered,'When you arrive at the scene of a human disaster, the first thing to do is stop bleeding. There is nothing architecture can do until that is done.

I was wrong.


A freespace structure was comissioned on June 16, 1991 by the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, which is under the directorship of Professor Vladimir Malekovic. On June 26th, Croatia seceded from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and was invaded by the Yugoslav Army. Since then, civil war has engulfed regions of Croatia. Much blood has been shed, much suffering has followed. Croatia's cultural fabric has been decimated, and its once-prosperous economy has been virtually destroyed.

What is this freespace structure, and the Free-Zone project of which it is a part, that they should be considered seriously in a context of violence, human suffering, even of despair over the aspect of humanity that so consciously imposes such conditions on people, in the name of 'national unity', or any other ideological premise?

The initial reception by the intellectual and arts community in Zagreb, and of the public, who became aware of the project through newspaper and magazine articles, was one of curiosity more than confirmation. To be sure, some of this curiosity centred on the fact that the architect was an American, from New York City. What does anyone from New York think of or care about Zagreb today? And why? Yet there is no doubt that curiosity also existed for reasons internal to the project presented entirely by drawings at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in April of 1991, reasons having to do with the very real and drastic changes then occurring, and about to occur, in the political and cultural life of the country. The idea of a series of mobile 'units of habitation' (occupied by whom was not clearly defined), packed with powerful communications and other advanced electronic instrumentation (also of unknown purpose), leaning against buildings, or suspended between them, occupying the streets of the city's centre like so many machines of war, could not help but provoke curiosity. Whether they were instruments of invasion, and, is so, to obtain what objectives, no one could say. Whether they were the refuges of gypsies intelligent and skilled enough to use the instrumentation, yet free in spirit enough to invent some purpose for its use not readily apparent, no one could say. Whether they are shelters for an elite who might seek to escape a coming storm of violence on a landscape about to be torn apart by war or social disorder, no one could say.

I asserted that the freespace structures and the constantly shifting pattern and network they created were 'heterarchical', and therefore an integral part of a global structure of freely determined communication and authority befitting a highly mobile and culturally dynamic contemporary urban society. Many questions raised by this assertion remain unanswered. Are the structures reserved for an elite of well-placed and well-connected intellectuals, artists, scientists, or-perhaps-for officials of the city, already invested with authority? Or are the structures inhabited by those aggressive and 'inventive' enough to seize and hold them-criminals and con men and renegades? Or are the structures meant for 'all individuals', which must include workers and farmers and fishermen? If so, then how will they possibly make use of the advanced instrumentation that is essential to the network, the ephemeral, McLuhanesque community on this proposal depends?

It is not possible to name any individual or group as the designated inhabitants of the freespace structures and the free-zone network, without compromising its open nature and structure. At the same time, if inhabitation of the structure and the network is left open to whoever can 'seize' them, by whatever means, then the freedom of this aggressive elite could become a tyranny for others. Whoever occupies the freespaces and the free-zone will have control of the powers inherent in them: the power of access to global communications networks, with their databases and privilegted information; the power to broadcast, and to interfere with the broadcasts of existing institutions of authority; the power to employ electronic instruments extending the senses and capacities for experimental means; the power to move the structures freely within public space, for purposes no longer 'public' in the presently accepted sense of the word. If these powers are in the hands of egoistic inventors of self and world, then any egalitarian idea of human freedom is placed decisively at risk. There is no way to mitigate this rist. It is inherent in the inhabitation of freespaces and free-zones, unbounded as they are by any logic imposed by existing conventions. The model of the heterarchical free-zone is a nucleic one- it begins with a small group of people, the inhabitants of the freespace structures. This group does not constitute a concentration of institutionalised authority- the freespace inhabitants have only the authority of their own performances. Their relationship to the city and its community depends solely on the quality of their interaction with them.

The free-zone is established on the principle of dealogue, carried on through instrumentation extending the senses and capacities of individuals into domains of the microscopic and macroscopic, facilitating direct experience of them. A type of instrumentation will be invented that facilitates play on the broad field of an individual's knowledge and experiences, a type of free interaction- a dialogue- with one's self that is in fact the beginning of all communication and community. Freespace is a new spatial manifestation of the boundaries of individual autonomy. It is not interpreted by a social group in the form of a predetermined function or programme that is named, but only by an individual set of actions, purposes, meanings.

Freespace is not demanded by any of the existing cultural or social institutions, or even by an individual who has in mind for it some particular use. It does not belong to any existing building type, which excludes it from the marketplace. Instead it is constructed by an individual or small working group sho see it in its inception as an instrument of transformation of 'self' and of 'world', by the very fact of its presence as a new, alien, indetyerminate condition. Therefore it has definite possibilities- one might better say, probabilities (in the statistical, or quantum mechanical sense)- of implementation. Freespaces have no preconceived way of inhabitation. They are not goal-determined. Instead they are akin to experimental laboratories, with very precisely defined apparatus that can be used for a finite, but wide range of experimental uses. It is up to the inhabitant to determine, within the limits of the physicalconditions of a particular freespace, how the freespace instrumentation- both architectural and electronic- will be used.

The range of probabilities of a given freespace's use is determined by the jprecisely defined configuration- strong presence- of its spaces and forms. In inhabiting these, precision must be answered by precision, presence by presence. The Cartesian grid so beloved of Modern architecture- and of Post-Modern architecture too- is not precise, rather it is a generalised abstraction. As a spatial and formal construct, it has no character, and therefore can be occupied without character, a fact to which many contemporary buildings testify. The dulling monotony of office work, and the general mediocrity of its results, for example, are not the result of the generalised neutrality of the Cartesian grid on which office buildings are based, but are connected symbiotically with it, on both conceptual and phenomenological levels.

Freespace, on the contrary, is quite precise spatially, demensionally, materially. Its precision lies in the differences between one freespace structure and the next, between one space within that structure and the others, between one surface, texture, colour, degree of newness or decay, degree of lightness or darkness resulting from shifting conditions of illumination. Freespaces are not idealised abstractions, but concrete, existential realisations. To inhabit them, one must be equally concrete in one's thoughts and actions. It is not merely a matter of responding to the material characteristics, of reacting, but of a direct engagement, requiring an initiative, amplified, rendered forceful by a confrontation with 'useless' space. One has to invent something from almost nothing. In this case, the 'almost'- the precise existential conditions- is the curcial factor, and the crisis. Unlike the occupier of idealised space, the inhabitant of freespace must live poised in the precise material matrix of the present. Each freespace structure contains spaces that can be occupied by one or more persons. Occupation precedes inhabitation, and it will no be easy. Freespace is 'useless and meningless' space- space constructed with no predetermined use or meaning. On one hand, it appears that this is an unprecedented type of space, one that could only be seriously considered in Post-Modern conditions of a superfluity of goods and services- a kind of luxury of space. On the other hand, these Post-Modern conditions, as they have affected belief and value systems that once gave cohesion to society, make it clear that all spaces are useless and meaningless, until they are inhabited in specific ways. The Cartesian system for organising space has no mor intrinsic usefulness or meaning than freespaces. The difference between these two has to do with their potential in the creation- through acts of inhabitation- of new values, purposes, users, meanings. In a sense, the conception and construction of freespace calls into question, or brings more into focus, the nature of constructed space generally, calling for a revaluation of existing cities and societies, as well as the 'use' and 'meaning' of any human life. My position is, however, not nihilistic. The assertion- through constructive action- of an intrinsic emptiness of human existence gives this emptiness value, which I refer to as a potential that an individual must realise through acts of inhabitation, acts of self-invention.

Self-invention inevitably draws upon and embraces the full scope of an individual's experiences. No one is born brand new each day, each moment. Much is drawn from conceptions of the past in the form of personal memories and reflections, as well as a social consensus about what the past was and meant- history and tradition. This, indeed, forms a framework for personal interpretations and interactins with the present, but not more than that. Today the burden of responsibility for inventing meaning and usefulness, through action, is on each individual, drawing as he or she might from all available resources. This is the essence- and the crisis- of the Post-Modern condition, the condition that informs the way people live on the anarchical landscape of emptied meaning and voided authority.


The global unification of nations seems well underway. Its basis is economic and financial. When the New York stock market crashed in 1988, a shockwave followed the sun, forcing steep declines in the London, Frankfurt, and Tokyo stock markets. This event destroyed the illusion that the world was divided into distinct nations and their respective cultures, and that human affairs- down to the level of the individual citizen of each nation- would continue to be decided in terms of national interests. It seems to be no coincidence that within three years of this event, socialism breathed its last in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. No nation can now afford to miss out on the global unification game and hope to survive. The future will no longer be decided on the traditional competition between nation-states, but on the proficiency of international corporations and their loyal politicians in playing on a single financial field covering the entire planet, whose boundaries and markers are statistical, not geographical.

There is, however, another trend active in the world today, which opposes global unification and is therefore opposed by the institutions of finance and government promoting it. This is the trend towards a breaking of the nation-states into smaller and smaller units. Modern nations- such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia- have already broken up along historical and ethnic lines into smaller states. But these events will only be the initial phase of the atomisation of the planet.

If one traces the ethical development of Western civilisation, it clearly points towards the liberation of the individual from social masses. In the most advanced Western cultures, the evolution of political theory and systems, of education, techniques of transportation and communication, have already resulted in more autonomy for most individuals than has previously existed in its history. As this evolution continues in the West, and continues to spread itself into other cultures around the world, more individuals will achieve an unprecedented degree of mobility and choice, with all their existential benefits and burdens.

This second, anti-unification trend can be summarised in terms of politics, law, economics and culture: the nation-state of the future is the individual human being.

The individual human being is organically autonomous, in fact, an organism. Strictly speaking, a group of individuals is not an organism, however much philosophers and apologists of hierarchical structures might wish it to be, however much groups might behave like an organism in certain situations. By nature, only the individual human being is autonomous. When architects and planners speak of the city in terms of the human body- roads as 'arteries', communications networks as 'nerve systems', corporate and government headquarters as 'brain centres'- they make no more than a primitive analogy to the individual human organism, one that becomes tragic and totalitarian when CEOs and politicians, who wield power in society, act as though this analogy were literally true.

When I went to Brazil in 1987, I was taken to the top of the tallest building in Sao Paulo. There, as I teetered on a narrow catwalk, looking out in all directions over the city, the television people shoving their video cameras at me, asking what I would propose for their city of seventeen million inhabitants, I optimistically offered the results of my research up to that time. To solve the incredible congestion of traffic, to restore social equity, community and coherence to a mad landscape, the neighbourhoods should be reorganised according to the principles of Centricity. 'The universel science...whose workers include all individuals...seeks general principles whose discovery continuously reunifies all fields of knowledge on a universal plane, towards the achievement of an egalitarian and humanistic culture...The universal plane is the urban field.' All those interlocking circles and cycles, like so many ripples on a smooth pond struck in the same instant by a handful of pebbles. A Leonardo drawing. A Renaissance ideal. The proper study of humankind is the human. Not so much a science of architecture, but science in the spirit of architecture.

From the height of the tower at the centre of Sao Paulo, the city stretched towards all horizons, confused, formless and uncontained. It was not universal, nor egalitarian, nor humanistic- a system too complex to see. An inconsistent pattern, lacking only a self-conscious architecture of insinuation, one that radically transforms and at the same time deeply preserves. Somewhere in the city, the life of the favela was eating away the roots of the serene white towers, a transformation their electronic surveillance systems would never detect. Knowing a thing just as it is known....