How Energy Makes a Difference on the Morphology of Space

Thumbnail Image
Balzar, Mark
Associated Organization(s)
Organizational Unit
Organizational Unit
Supplementary to
In today’s sciences we pay a great deal of attention to the complexity of biological form and ecological formation. Analogies in urban research refer to cities as living (eco)systems, organisms or technological artifacts, which follow the rules of an urban metabolism. All these narratives seem to suggest that all matter (acting and interacting) on earth belong to a complex whole and their physiological characteristics share common organizational physical laws, which are rather dynamic and formless by their nature. A quantitative and qualitative theory for understanding these complexities and the dynamics of such a condensed organization of urban organic and inorganic materialization remains elusive, however, its impact on our planet is explicit and evident in various forms. Currently, most of humanity lives in cities. Their organization of human society and the tendency of cities to grow put ecological pressure on the global environment. The urban realm is an ever-unfolding amalgam of the biosphere and the techno-sphere within a dynamical system of materiality which threatens the concept of static form as an expression of physiological states. This formlessness is rather an expression (and empowering) of emerging patterns than an ambiguous loss of control. This paper argues that developing a new theoretical measure of understanding the materiality of forms, and the formation of the urban realm(s) as the effect of a complex information system of interrelations seems to be necessary. The following text will discuss the trajectory through three major approaches: The philosophical concept of (New) Materialism in relation to discursive formations (a terminology developed by Michel Foucault), the scientific concept of Systems Ecology of Howard T. Odum and the theoretical concept of individuation by Gilbert Simondon (1992). Systems ecology grants a view to dynamism of the physical, chemical, economic, and social forces in the field of urban morphological ensembles—the passive potentialities (energy storage) and the active transgressing forces (energy transfer) governed by the second law of thermodynamics. Odum’s understanding of urban energy cycles bears the potential to unravel the information patterns of an urban organism controlled by time.
Date Issued
Resource Type
Resource Subtype
Rights Statement
Rights URI