- rhizome + architecture
- ---- by Graham LiveseyDeleuze and Guattari's concept of the rhizome as a continuously reorganising network, or web, has application to both architecture and urbanism. Deleuze and Guattari describe the principles of rhizomatic structures as involving connection, heterogeneity, multiplicity, asignifying rupture, cartography, and decalcomania. Applying Deleuze and Guattari is always challenging, nevertheless rhizomatics provides a useful model for examining the internal relationships within buildings, the inter-connections between buildings and their surroundings, and most specifically the structure of cities. In fact Deleuze and Guattari describe Amsterdam as a 'rhizome-city' (D&G 1987: 15). Elsewhere, Deleuze describes the city as a labyrinth in terms that strongly invoke the rhizome (D 1993a: 24).The notion that a point or site (building, space, location, etc.) is connected to an infinitude of other points or sites is a productive concept. This results in structures and relationships that are 'acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying' (D&G 1987: 21). The concentration on the line inherent to the rhizome places emphasis on connectivity and movement. This invokes both communication systems and the movement of people, goods, and services; architecture and cities are widely engaged in these functions.Various examples can be cited for a rhizomatic architecture and urbanism. Drawing from the plant and animal derivation of the term, the concept of architecture behaving like a rhizomatic weed was invoked by R.E. Somol when describing architect Peter Eisenman's Wexner Center for the Visual Arts in Ohio. Somol suggests that the building rises up in-between other structures, much like a weed, and that it makes rhizomatic connections to various existing structures and conditions (S 1989: 48-51). Another example of a rhizomatic architecture draws from the work of the post-war Team 10 movement, which generally invoked arborescent structures in their design of buildings and city. However, they also developed the 'mat-building' typology, derived from open-ended urban structures. Mat-buildings such as the Berlin Free University project, by the architects Candilis-JosicWoods, employed a web and matrix of spaces and movement systems. Describing mat-buildings, the British architect, and Team 10 member, Alison Smithson writes: '. . .the functions come to enrich the fabric, and the individual gains new freedoms of action through a new and shufﬂed order, based on interconnection, close-knit patterns of association, and possibilities of growth, diminution, and change' (S 1974: 573). The emphasis placed by Deleuze and Guattari on cartography, in their definition of the rhizome, also resonates with architectural and urban practices. However, the mapping they describe, and it is a powerful formulation, 'pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight' (D&G 1987: 21). This implies that cartography is most productive when it captures complexity and temporality; the mapping of non-conventional qualities and quantities has become an important aspect of architecture and urbanism inﬂuenced by Deleuze and Guattari.Architecture tends to focus on the material and formal aspects of buildings, however buildings are spatial, functional, and social environments. Deleuze and Guattari's concept of the rhizome is a vital concept for shifting the emphasis of architecture to the complex networks of movement, social connections, and communications that buildings and urban environments encompass.
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.