Everything is interconnected (Deleuze and Guattari, 2009)
For all its apparent complexities – as confounding as they are tantalizing – reducing the philosophy of rhizomes to a simple tenet seems like the attempt at an oxymoron, a contradiction of its own terms. For rhizomes, in the minds of Deleuze and Guattari (D&G), is all about things that cannot be pinned down to the hierarchical – top down, vertical way of organizing reality. There is no one answer. Every thought, fact and event is perpetually in a state of motion, expanding and contracting, replicating, destructing in multi-reality where relations supersede “things” as the final meaning. As Bert Oliver has puzzled over and concluded, “Once one has made this mind-switch you are ready to move into a new way of rhizomatic thinking, which, in turn, ushers in grasping the world in relational terms: relations are the dynamic ”basics” (NOT things or objects) of reality as multiplicity.”
What does this mean in architecture where we deal with buildable things in the real world?
The design thesis explores the possible applications of Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizomatic theories in a wasted public space in Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia. Investigating systematically, and taking cognizance of D&G’s six principles (connectivity, heterogeneity, multiplicity, asignifying rupture, cartography and decalcomania) I tread cautiously through assemblage and mapping as D&G suggest. The design thesis project is a spatio-architectural expression of endless connections without terminations, music without melody, movements without destinations, and everything without anything in particular. It is inhabitable, useful, profitable and enjoyable. It is architecture as we know it, yet utopian in a quasi-believable way. It is foreign to the existing fabric, yet contextual in its attachment to the networks at every level of the community’s experience. It is new by using the old to set the poetry of the space. D&G were almost predicting The Rhizome and The Wasted Square when they said <Everything is interconnected, and regardless of where you start, you can proceed to any quadrant, nook or cranny of “reality”, with no possible transcendence; only immanence. Nor can you occupy a point or position: “There are only lines.”>
The design thesis takes place in a town located at the confluence of the Rejang and Igan rivers. Dominated by the Foochow Chinese it is the largest and pioneer inland town in Sarawak that associates with several other smaller places upriver such as Kapit, Sarikei, Kanowit and Belaga. For decades, the people of Sibu have been congregating around and area called Loba Lembangan for businesses and trade. It is the oldest commercial and trading zone that has propelled Sibu’s economy and prosperity for generations. Loba’s harbour, central to the hive, buzzed with urban dynamism and drama. Loba Lembangan also forms part of the transportation hub with its trading dock and regional bus station. It is the densest district in Sibu.
While social engagement revolves around the central market by day, during the night it splinters across the town. To address this anomaly I propose a socio-commercial-cultural hub that magnetizes all the disparate urban facilities. It comprises diverse facilities and a series of programmes that are age-versatile and ethnically inclusive. Intervening to form a synoptic entity it becomes a contemporary urban catalyst that expands the potential of Sibu downtown as the most prominent gathering spot in a modern riverine town. Furthermore, it complements (by countering) the dominance of the commercial blocks with the insertion of a new spirit to strengthen Sibu’s decentralised economy and urban fabric. Deleuze & Guattari and The Emergence of Rhizome
Posited by Deleuze and Guattari (D&G) in 1980’s Rhizome Theory was described as an anti-linear and non-hierarchical realm in our living condition. It is a non-signifying system, an aggregate of multitudinous spaces through semiotic chains with no specific basis and directions. It was a statement used to debate and analyse post-modernism, where it was called to embrace and create diversity and flexibility to change. Apart from that, it also asserts post-structuralism which discusses the need of understanding the production of an object’s through its system of knowledge. The framework is also used to analyse social complexity by emphasizing fluidity, multiple functionalities through entities and their connectivities. It’s about an acentered space of qualitative difference with no central automaton and defined solely by circulations and relationships. Ensuing architectural formulae need to be non-hierarchical, people-modelled and programmatically adaptive. My thesis sort to facilitate urban insertions on that premise.
The chief agenda was to be in a state of readiness to coalesce with the existing local settings with its day activities, fortifying and stretching its vitality into the night. The anticipated multiplicity of programmes are conceived as flexible responses to the public need for contextual operations at any time.
A city is a composition of various contexts influenced by the energy of movement of its inhabitants at different times of the day. Knowledge of urban spatial connectivity and enigmatic relationships within its sphere can be formed by apply a space syntax as a mathematical solution to determine the flow of humanity between unconscious nodes. I used the space syntax to provide a real-time moment of the given place. At a selected point in time, and from one vantage point, I froze all activities and patterns onto a plane. The resultant syntax was then overlapped onto the existing culture and place characteristic to establish a clearer picture of the general pattern of activities. The syntax verified the spatial configuration of the street network, which then influenced the distribution of space functions. It predicted algorithmic data which was used to create a schedule for the arrangement of space. A city works when the progressive change of the human behaviour pattern informs how a building should function on an hourly basis, rather than be just structures boasting merely aesthetic properties.
Visceral to Formations
The “project of thought” was an installation I constructed to apprehend the urban syntax and its morphology. Spreading out in all directions it created a living network with different levels of interconnections between layers, levels and the centres of growth. It acts as an urban tissue to reconnect all broken linkages to bring about the completion of Loba Lembangan. Nodes and pattern movements were overlapped to form a cartography of theoretical architecture.