Abductive Architecture

by Alexander Timmer (MArch ’16)

Inference or logical reasoning in the design, representation, and dissemination of architectural ideas has followed a trajectory aligned with the three forms of inference as described by Charles Sanders Peirce. [i] Modern, Postmodern and Nonmodern methodologies are closely aligned with deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning respectively. With each of these forms of inference emerges different forms of design: the absolute, the codified, and the immanent.

Specifically, abductive reasoning, the immanent, in architecture is the negotiation of open systems consisting of visual and nonvisual information. The designer using a feedback loop of observation and experiment produces novel artifacts that are dependent but not determined by this system. Abductive architecture represents these moments when innovation is driven by needs not only inclusive of ideology. This innovation though tends to happen slowly on a large time scale. What if we as architects could take this process and shorten it to allow for more immediate innovation?

By compressing the feedback loop that is design and construction this thesis will use open thermodynamics, and specifically, fire to demonstrate what an abductive convergence of mass around an energetic flow might look like.

[i] Fann, K. T. 1970. Peirce’s Theory of Abduction. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

Thesis Advisor:
Kiel Moe