Performance-oriented Architecture: Towards a Biological Paradigm for Architectural Design and the Built Environment

  • Michael Ulrich Hensel AHO Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Emneord (Nøkkelord): performance, agency, material organisation, spatial organisation, subject, environment, form, function, biological paradigm, biological systems, complexity, systems-theory


This paper introduces and elaborates a specific approach to architectural design entitled ‘performance-oriented architecture’ based on a redefinition of the concept of ‘performance’ in relation to the discipline of architecture and set within a biological paradigm. The concept of ‘performance’ evolved out of a series of intellectual efforts that had broad consequences, brining about a paradigm shift in the humanities referred to as the ‘performative turn’. These efforts commenced in the 1940s and 1950s and had significant impact also on the sciences, deriving what is referred to as the ‘performative idiom’. Here the question is raised as to what ‘performance’ in the context of architecture may entail. The approach introduced con­trasts previous ones that focused either on questions of representation and meaning in architecture, or, alternatively that have treated performance as synonymous to function placed in the context of post-design functional optimisation. Contrasting these previous efforts performance is here reformulated as a driving concept for design that helps re-con­solidate form and function into a synergetic relation with the dynamics of natural, cultural and social environments, and in so doing, locate performative capacity - ‘ active agency’ - in the spatial and material organisation of architecture, in the human subject and the environ­ment through the dynamic interaction between these four domains. In pursuing this approach the potential of a close disciplinary affiliation between architecture and biology is examined, so as to locate a suitable paradigm for performance in the discipline of biology and its var­ious sub-disciplines, in its various foci and modes of inquiry, and, moreover, in biological syst­ems.


Michael Ulrich Hensel, AHO Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Michael U. HenselProf. Research by Design AHODirector Emergent Technologies and Design AABoard Member BIONIS - The Biomimetics Network for Industrial Sustainability
Hvordan referere
Hensel, M. U. (2010). Performance-oriented Architecture: Towards a Biological Paradigm for Architectural Design and the Built Environment. FormAkademisk - forskningstidsskrift for design og designdidaktikk, 3(1).