Justin Moorton


Scales of Aggregation

Standardisation has historically been promoted as a means of driving down manufacturing costs and hence improving the accessibility of products through economies of scale. Yet the materials which make our built environments are all starting to look the same, and this flavourless homogeneity may be taking an emotional toll on the people forced to live in and around them. A growing body of cognitive science research is revealing how oppressively dull environs can create stress and raise blood pressure as a direct result of boredom, and how variety can improve our quality of life. This paper looks at reasons why visual variation in architectural materiality is a property worth examining and retaining. To do so, scale and texture were employed as metrological frameworks for approaching the design of heterogeneous surfaces. This concern is especially valid considering the huge technological advances in digital fabrication of late. Multi-material printing is already possible and in the not-so-distant future, it is anticipated that we will be able to embed and weave multiple materials into complex micro-structures specified with micron-scale precision. However, it is shown that there are other ways of orchestrating heterogeneity, mostly involving relinquishing some form of agency or control. The deterministic specification of variation is a much more complicated endeavour and an interdisciplinary method of approach is outlined.