If scale is familiar, the scaleless is unfamiliar.
The fourth issue of another pamphlet will consider the scaleless – the scaleless representation, the scaleless object, the scaleless process, the scaleless system, the scaleless attitude. Lacking an understandable relationship to something known – a measure, a body, a context – the scaleless resists quantification, challenges comprehension, and destabilizes conventions.
Scale is inherent in the experience of perception, and like all perceptual properties it is dynamic; objects we see oscillate between having “a sense of scale” and being “out of scale”. Scale is paradoxically both persistent and fleeting, both objective and subjective.
Throughout the history of aesthetic practice, scale has been variously deployed as an operative design strategy – emphasizing scale to provide a stabilizing force from which to measure, repurposing ideas at different scales to challenge expectations, or deliberately denying scale to encourage multiple readings. Scale is a fundamental issue for architecture – it links the process of design to the process of building, leverages the systems of proportion, orders part to whole, and allows buildings to relate to one another. However, recent developments in modeling tools (the scalelessness of digital space), fabrication (the increasingly seamless translation of this scaleless digital space into physical space), and the homogenizing pressures of globalization (the loss of local context), have upset these traditional registers, leaving the status of scale increasingly uncertain and urgently in need of reformulation.
This issue suggests an emerging atmosphere of the scaleless – cultural, political, economic, material, and aesthetic. We embrace the complex ambiguity of the scaleless, seek out its untapped potential, and ask what is at stake for the discipline of architecture.