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D: CONFLATE

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CONFLATE is the architectural effect generated when an Idea of Unite and an Idea of Separate are evoked by a characteristic that has a similarity with its surroundings. It is paired with JUXTAPOSE, and fits into the framework like this.

As was the case with JUXTAPOSE, CONFLATE evokes no Idea of Negate and so is also incapable of challenging us and making us reconsider what a building is or can be. CONFLATE differs from JUXTAPOSE in the one and important difference of the core visual reality being UNITE and not SEPARATE.

D: CONFLATE

Colour to D: CONFLATE

This is a white building in a white landscape that, in this photograph, is largely self made and in a way that allows snow to accumulate. The colour of the building is both the cool white of snow and the warm white of stone.

The colours of Desert Nomad House (2006) by architect Rick Joy match those of the landscape. We know them as the colors are rusted steel but we also know them to be the result of natural processes, albeit artificially accelerated ones in the case of CORTEN™.

Even from these two examples, we can see how CONFLATE incorporates COMBINE’s powerful synergy of an Idea of Unite reinforcing the visual reality of UNITE, and also incorporates EXTRACT with its Idea of Separate contradicting the visual reality of UNITE to provides a “spice” or “interest”. The premise of this framework is that what we perceive as “depth” or “levels” of meaning is made up of the interactions of resonances and contradictions such as these. Into the mix we can also add Ideas of Negate, but not with CONFLATE or JUXTAPOSE.

Pattern to D: CONFLATE

The pattern of Beijing National Stadium is an example of Pattern to CONFLATE. Architects have known for centuries that reflecting ponds enhance the appearance of a building and, weather permitting, they do this by automatically creating a visual unity between building and surroundings.

Philip Johnson & John Burgess’ KIO Towers (1996) in Madrid is two “mirrored” buildings creating a permanent reflection and uniting them into a single composition. The same can be said for the pattern of structural elements that can be read as two separate fragments of a single unifying grid.

Whether it’s achieved by physical mirroring or the virtual mirroring of reflections, we seem to enjoy ideas of difference and similarity existing at the same time, and especially so when evoked by a visual unity – i.e. CONFLATE.

Shape to D: CONFLATE

With Mont-St.-Michel, the shape of the monastery building and the shape of the hill together create a new shape so strong it is difficult to imagine the hill without the building. Unlike JUXTAPOSE where the two distinct parts would remain distinct, with CONFLATE they become something new.

This next example of Shape to CONFLATE is the Grotte de Niaux (Museum of Graffiti, 1993) by Massimiliano Fuksas. Inside the cave are cave paintings from the Magdalenian era (11.000 BC). The shape of this visitor building echoes that of the cave mouth. Instead of complementing it to form a new thing as with the example above, this difference of shape implies they were each once a part of the same shape, and may even be once more. (This difference of shape is reinforced by the difference between rock and metal, as evident through colour and pattern.)

Position to D: CONFLATE

Mont-St.-Michel again. Having the building at the summit of the hill is an example of Position to UNITE. Knowing it is a monastery means that the highest point is thus “closer to God’s realm” and thus an Idea of Unite. If one part is “closer” the the other part – the laity – must be “further from God’s realm” (and thus require the mediating services of the monastery). Monastery and laity together form this new thing called the commune and their respective shapes together form the new profile of the island.

This example also shows Shape and Position linked with the Shape characteristic evoking the effect it does because the Position characteristic evokes the effect it does, and vice-versa

Still in France, I.M. Pei’s 1989 entrance to the Paris Louvre is positioned at the courtyard’s centre which is a special position and thus an example of Position to UNITE. The building has often been described as “the key that unlocks the Louvre” and this is mostly due to its position that can be thought of as a central lock in a door that, when open, unites us with what is on the other side of that door. Any door involves concepts of separation and unity but, when open, this door unites visitor on one side with the gallery on the other to allow the experience.

Alignment to D: CONFLATE

Bahrain World Trade Center (1999, ATKINS) is aligned towards the sea [UNITE] so it can channel sea breezes [Idea of Unite] towards the wind turbines that obstruct and harness them [Idea of Separate].

Snøhetta’s 2002 Bibliotheca Alexandrina [Library of Alexandria] faces the Sun [UNITE]. It appears as if it tracks the sun [Idea of Unite] but we know it to be immobile [Idea of Separate]. On a different level, the disk shape follows the curve of the highway and road [UNITE] but faces The Sun as if to recall Ancient Egyptian sun worship, and thus associate [Idea of Unite] the building with something far more lasting than highways and coastlines [Idea of Separate].

Size to D: CONFLATE

The small glass building is the same height as the podium of the building behind [UNITE] and forms the focal point [Idea of Separate] of a new composition [Idea of Unite].


SUMMARY

  • CONFLATE is when a characteristic looks similar to something around it and at the same time makes us think of it as both similar to and different from its surroundings.
  • With CONFLATE, a single idea encapsulates an idea of separation and an idea of unity that resonates with the visual unity to suppress the idea of separation. Again, the result is unsettling as an observer has to rationalise two contradicting ideas.
  • CONFLATE dramatizes similarities and with none of the strangeness brought by ideas of negate.
  • CONFLATE is visual unity conceptually weakened and conceptually strengthened.

DDD DD D: The Beauty of CONFLATE

The Beauty of CONFLATE 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 Separate. The visual unity evokes both a conceptual difference and a conceptual unity.

SURFACE ATTRIBUTES
Colour

A building’s colour is seen in that building’s context.
A building’s colour can be ‘seen’ not to be in that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s colour can be ‘seen’ to be in that building’s ‘context’.
Pattern
A building’s pattern is seen in that building’s context.
A building’s pattern can be ‘seen’ not to be in that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s pattern can be ‘seen’ to be in that building’s ‘context’.

Shape
A building’s shape is seen in that building’s context.

A building’s pattern can be ‘seen’ not to be in that building’s ‘context’.
A building’s pattern can be ‘seen’ to be in that building’s ‘context’.


PLACEMENT ATTRIBUTES
Position

A building’s position is seen with respect to that building’s context.
A building’s position can be ‘seen’ not 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’.
Alignment
A building’s alignment is with respect to that building’s context.
A building’s alignment can be ‘seen’ not 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’.

SIZE ATTRIBUTE
Size

A building’s size is seen with respect to that building’s context.

A building’s size can be ‘seen’ not 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’.

We know this next building. It’s been part of our visual history of architecture for so long it would have to be an example of something special and The Beauty of CONFLATE it is. It is only natural that a theory explain known phenomena as well as unknown ones and any theory purporting to be a framework of architectural aesthetics must provide some insight into what this building is an example of and why. According to this aesthetic framework, the two fundamentally different things of building and landscape [“natural vs. artificial” Idea of Separate] are physically/visually fused [UNITE] to create a pleasingly picturesque composition [Idea of Unite]. This restates the general perception of this building in terms of the concepts and vocabulary of this framework.

  • The colours of this building are the colors of rock [UNITE], the warm brown [Idea of Unite] of which contrasts with the cool green [Idea of Separate] of the foliage it is seen against from this viewpoint.
  • The pattern of this building comprises horizontal balconies and vertical tower-like structures that mimic the rock ledges and waterfall [UNITE]. Artificial [Idea of Separate] and natural lines/patterns combine to form a rotationally symmetrical composition [Idea of Unite] when seen together from this viewpoint.
  • The shape of this building comprises horizontal balconies and vertical tower-like structures that mimic the rock ledges and the waterfall itself [UNITE]. Artificial [Idea of Separate] and natural shapes combine to form a rotationally symmetrical composition [Idea of Unite] when seen together from this viewpoint.
  • The building [Idea of Separate] is positioned with respect to the rock ledges and waterfall [UNITE] to form a picturesque composition [Idea of Unite] when seen together from this viewpoint.
  • The building [Idea of Separate] is aligned with respect to the rock ledges and waterfall [UNITE] to form a picturesque composition [Idea of Unite] when seen together from this viewpoint.
  • The building is much larger than rock ledges and waterfall [Idea of Separate] but when observed from this viewpoint is comparable to that of the rock ledges and waterfall [UNITE] and forms a balanced composition [Idea of Unite].

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The 2007 Draft: Introduction
The 2007 Draft: Derivation
The Architecture of Architectures (2007 ~ )
0: SEPARATE
1: UNITE
2: DETACH
3: ATTACH

4: EXTRACT
5: COMBINE
6: DISGUISE
7: MERGE
8: ALIENATE
9: ASSIMILATE
A: DIFFERENTIATE
B: INTEGRATE
C: JUXTAPOSE
D: CONFLATE
E: DESIGNATE
F: ASSOCIATE
SPECIAL EFFECTS
– Disquiet
– Consistency
– Importance
– Strength
– Emphasis
– BEAUTY
Afterword

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