Change, and in particular transformation—one form changing into another—is not simply a matter of the alteration of an existing form to create a new one. Rather, change creates what we could call a third form, really a third state which is the state of changing, itself. We are so accustomed to thinking in dialectical, binary terms, employing either-or reasoning, that we overlook or consciously avoid the in-between state of change, which is really the state we continuously inhabit. Our fixation on goals—forms that for whatever reasons we desire—induces us to pass over the so-called intermediate state, the state of transition, the actual state of change, in our rush to get to the desired form. When we get there, of course, we find that our goal, once attained, no longer holds our interest, so we set a new goal. In other words, we keep changing, but without ever embracing the state—and the forms—of changing itself.

As long as we can keep up with changes, moving from goal to goal, this does not matter so much. In fact human civilization has worked for thousands of years without much thought being given to the states, the forms of changing. However, when change starts to get ahead of us, that is, when we are not able to absorb one change fully before the next change comes, our goal-fixated system starts to break down. The is because we are more and more caught in the state of changing, and less and less able to reach our desired goals, even if only long enough to get bored with them. At a certain point, the only attainable goal is to live within the state of change itself, like refugees, gypsies, or nomads. It seems likely that in the future, if the pace of change—social, political, economic, cultural—continues to increase, this condition will become common in all social classes.

In such a world, the design and construction of permanent buildings will become less important than it is today, and architects will turn their attention to the development of concepts and techniques of building temporary living spaces. At their most primitive, these will involve portable structures such as tents. With increasing sophistication they will involve site-specific constructions that are created and, just as importantly, disappear as needed or desired.


(below) Air Architecture (1961), Yves Klein. Living space created with water, fire, and steam. “Of course, with all the progress made by science, this is no longer a utopia today. Technique, however, could in fact realize such things!… To find nature and live once again on the surface of the whole of the earth without needing a roof or a wall. To live in nature with a great and permanent comfort.”

Life on the Supersurface (1972), Superstudio:

Vector Architecture (2001-5), LW. “…architecture can be understood as the organization of energy:”

About this entry