Skip to content


Post date:

B: INTEGRATE is the other half of this second of three pairs of characteristics comprising two types of idea. As with A: DIFFERENTIATE, one type is an Idea of Unite and the other is an Idea of Negate – a sense that the characteristic (or attribute) observed isn’t that of a building or the building it appears to be. INTEGRATE is the effect generated when these two ideas are evoked by a characteristic visually similar to its surroundings.

As with DIFFERENTIATE, INTEGRATE has no Idea of Separate which means this effect can never appear novel, innovative, or breaking some aesthetic ground, if you will. To those hooked on novelty INTEGRATE may appear lame. If DIFFERENTIATE can be seen as difference for the sake of difference, INTEGRATE can be seen as similarity for the sake of similarity. All the same, INTEGRATE differs in having an Idea of Unite as well as the tangible unity of 1: UNITE and this means that one of its components the very strong aesthetic effect 5: COMBINE so, before we even see any examples, we can expect DIFFERENTIATE to look and seem as if it belongs. The combination of a tangible unity and an Idea of Negate create the aesthetic effect 7: MERGE and so we can also expect the Idea of Negate to diminish the identity as a building. INTEGRATE is thus a composite of 5: COMBINE and 7: MERGE. It is COMBINE, but in ways specific to MERGE.


Colour to B: INTEGRATE

The Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales is an example of Color to INTEGRATE. The building is the green of actual grass and the glass either reflects or transmits the colour of the sky, both of which are suggestive of unifying environmental credentials and concerns. This is irrespective of knowledge of the actual purpose of the building, which adds another. In this context, green and blue are the colors of things that aren’t buildings. Colour is being used here to force an association with Nature, to make us feel the building is, if not a natural object, then a part of Nature or at the very least responsive to it.

This is the classic image from the F+P website but these other images equally capture the intention.

Pattern to B: INTEGRATE

Quinlan Terry’s Richmond Riverside looks like at least three different buildings but is a single office building with non-uniform surface motifs (and colors and shapes and sizes) mixed to create the appearance of a group of smaller buildings. The design goal was to make a building that “fits in” with the unexceptional building to the left, but also to create something that fits people’s perceptions of what a building in this location should look like. The result is this commercial space that doesn’t look like a 20th century commercial space. Were these buildings actually built in (let’s say) 1800 then they might well be a used as commercial space today. The internal arrangement would be very different but still suited to law and insurance firms and other businesses that existed at the time. . The point is that this building is not what it appears to be and nor is it as old as it wants us to believe.


Tom Wright, architect of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, says its curve was meant to be evocative of the sail of a J-class yacht and not an Arab dhow but the common misconception exists. What things mean to people can’t be policed but people still its curve as a billowing sail. In this photo, the shape of Burj Al Arab is similar to that of the sail of the dhow – which is of course something not a building and also commonly seen around the Gulf coastline.

Position to B: INTEGRATE

This is Rafael Moneo’s Kursaal Cultural Center in San Sebastian. It’s positioned in the corner at one end of the bay – which is a special place already, but also as if it’s been washed up by the water. This idea is both an Idea of Unite and an Idea of Negate, having the position of something not a building. This notion is intensified in daytime when the colour of the un-illuminated building is not unlike seaweed.

The Louvre Pyramid is another example of Position to INTEGRATE. It is positioned on the special place of intersecting axes and this makes it Position to UNITE. The Idea of Unite and the Idea of Negate both come from the notion of a “key” that unlocks the museum and allows its contents to be accessed. At the time, many people questioned whether the glass structure was really as transparent as claimed but this idea of “key” coupled with its position meant no-one questioned the decision to place it here.

Alignment to B: INTEGRATE

Paris’ Arc de Triomphe is in the middle of Place de L’etoile but oriented so as to be seen up and down Les Champs Elysées – Alignment to UNITE.

In the image above, the alignment of Arc de Triomphe suggests it can be passed through (trimphantly) [Idea of Unite] but instead traffic passes around it. Its alignment indicates something that is not the case. This is an Idea of Negate although, admittedly, it is not a strong one as there is only a small difference between triumphal arch and daily monument. I only include it to contrast with Le Grande Arche which is an example of the paired idea of DIFFERENTIATE.

This house is a more obvious example of Alignment to INTEGRATE. The volume of the house is aligned with the slope of the land – Alignment to UNITE. This is contradicted by the line of the windows (that, on its own, would be Pattern to SEPARATE). So although the house is resting on the slope, its contents find their own level, much like water in a bucket. This is an Idea of Unite. However, a building is not a bucket of water and so the Idea of Negate is established.


On one side of the bridge is Bilbao Guggenheim and on the other side is a tower the same height as both the museum and the bridge support – UNITE. The far tower is an architectural device that functions to bring the bridge into the composition – Idea of Unite. Together with the museum it sandwiches the bridge but this is a unity of Position. This is an example of Size to INTEGRATE because the size (height) of the museum and tower are set by the height of the bridge support, something which is not a building – Idea of Negate.

David Chipperfield’s Kaufhaus department store in Innsbruck, Austria is another example of Size to INTEGRATE. Vertically, the building is the same height as its neighbors but its length is divided into three parts more in line with the width of those neighbors [Idea of Size to Unite], making its size appear slightly less incongruous than it is [Idea of Size to Negate].

These next buildings, part of MVRDV’s Long Tan Park proposal for China are the same height and width as their respective mountains. This itself is UNITE but, because they are no larger or smaller than their respective mountains, their sizes can be said to be determined by the mountains [Idea of Unite] which happen to be things not buildings [Idea of Negate].


  • INTEGRATE is when a characteristic of a building looks similar to what’s around it, makes us think of it as different, and also makes us think it is not what it seems.
  • INTEGRATE has a single idea that encapsulates an Idea of Unite and an Idea of Negate. The Idea of Negate brings some possibly interesting loss of identity and the Idea of Unite reinforces the visual similarity unchecked by any idea of novelty or originality. The Idea of Unite is important because the intention of Integrate is to ‘fit in’. Without it, the effect would be MERGE, the object of which is to be unnoticed.
  • INTEGRATE restates the obvious. It is the boat–shaped building next to waters, as well as any building that’s consciously contextual.
  • Building characteristics exhibiting INTEGRATE are variously claimed to resonate, chime with, or respond to their surroundings.
  • INTEGRATE is conceptually–reinforced, hyper-real similarity.


The Beauty of DIFFERENTIATE occurs when the following six tangible conditions for UNITE are satisfied, and each attribute also evokes an idea that is both an Idea of Unite and an Idea of Negate. There is a visual unity, conceptual unity, and a sense of the building not being the building it is.


A building’s colour is seen (to be) in that building’s context.
A building’s colour can be ‘seen’ to be in that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s colour can be ‘seen’ not to be the colour of a building.
A building’s pattern is seen (to be) in that building’s context.
A building’s pattern can be ‘seen’ to be in that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s pattern can be ‘seen’ not to be the pattern of a building.
A building’s shape is seen (to be) in that building’s context.
A building’s shape can be ‘seen’ to be in that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s shape can be ‘seen’ not to be the shape of a building.


A building’s position is seen (to be) with respect to that building’s context.
A building’s position can be ‘seen’ to be with respect to that building’s context’.
A building’s position can be ‘seen’ not to be the position of a building.
A building’s alignment is seen (to be) with respect to that building’s context.
A building’s alignment can be ‘seen’ to be with respect to that building’s context’.
A building’s alignment can be ‘seen’ not to be the alignment of a building.


A building’s size is seen (to be) with respect to that building’s context.
A building’s size can be ‘seen’ to be with respect to that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s size can be ‘seen’ not to be the size of a building.

Quinlan Terry’s 2003 Richmond Riverside is an example of The Beauty of Integrate and his 22 Baker Street London commercial development is another. The corner building, the two on the left and the one on the right are all the same building, and complete a streetscape in the manner of the period of the two bookending buildings. It succeeds in what it sets out to do. It is both an approach and an effect. It is INTEGRATE.

Closer scrutiny would probably indicate evidence of non-period construction processes and materials. It would probably also indicate an absence of ageing and deterioration but the object was to create a reproduction, not a counterfeit. Those who object to this as an approach have two grounds on which to do so.

  1. One is the temporal displacement. Though true, this is a matter of unity or disunity with the present and evidence that, in addition to the dimension of Mass with which this mapping is concerned, buildings also exist in the dimension of Time and so a parallel mapping ought to exist. I haven’t thought it through completely but, in such a mapping of buildings for the dimension of Time, this temporal displacement would be the equivalent of ASSIMILATE in that this building is a product of NOW, yet attempting to make us believe it is from a time that WAS NOW and so of a time that is NOT NOW.
  2. The other is spatial dislocation. During daylight hours, both Richmond Riverside and 22 Baker Street might easily fool a passer-by in thinking they were natural parts of the streetscape dating from oh, 1800 let’s say. However, in the evening, when seen from the outside, its windows would be lit by the office illumination of large floor plates and not the warm light of candelabras and oil lamps in many small rooms. Visually, this is an example of Colour and Pattern at odds with the surrounding buildings – ALIENATE – but is an example of the interior of a building at odds with what its exterior is indicating. This suggests a mapping exists for the third dimension of SPACE in which buildings simultaneously exist.
This plan is for the top floor offices in the mansard roof.

The 2007 Draft: Introduction
The 2007 Draft: Derivation
The Architecture of Architectures (2007 ~ )