Thom Mayne is an American architect; he is also considered among one of the most rebellious architects due to his unique perspective about technological architecture and the impact these alien-shaped buildings can have on the lifestyles of the user. His career was at its peak in the sixties, and in 1972 he started his studio, Morphosis. 

Morphosis is an interdisciplinary design studio that explores the potential of technological architecture in multiple ways, including making models, creating digital illustrations, and designing buildings.  

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Scanning through the portfolio of Thom Mayne one comes across an extensive collection of structures that are rebelling either against the contemporary architectural language or are constantly contradicting in itself. It is difficult to categorize the style as futuristic or brutalist architecture, despite that one can easily identify that the structures designed by Thom Mayne never blend in their context but rather celebrate their presence, creating a narrative that is very distinctive from our contemporary architecture. Such buildings are not an outcome of architecture alone, instead they represent the merger of technology and architecture.

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Thom Mayne is one of the names that appear when talking about digitizing the architectural design process: he was among those people who introduced the idea of using technology to enrich our design process, Mayne believed that through the use of technology we would be able to envision those aspects of architectural designing which aren’t visible through traditional methods. His work “Interface “in Milan Design Week addressed a similar concern where, instead of expressing the rising global issues such as energy efficiency, production streams, city building, in the form of data it was explained through architectural graphics.

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Thom Mayne once said “We are very interested in making versus the conventional notion of designing.”

Erecting a new skyscraper every other day with a different façade yet a similar plan is not the concept of designing in Thom Mayne’s ideology, he often accuses the architect of wrapping the same structure in new aesthetics. He believed that the repetitive pattern of similar structures that are densifying our cities are not shaping our life, but are rather acting as a silent dictator that forces people to live in a certain way.

Thom Mayne envisions the human as a continuously evolving species and architecture as a malleable device that helps and accentuates this human transformation. Designing a similar monotonous structure prevents the human from exploring different possibilities. The structures should be designed as flexible spaces, which don’t narrate a mass-ideology but instead adjust with every individual or community’s ever-changing necessity.

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The twisted metallic form of Cooper square designed by Thom Mayne doesn’t resonate with the context surrounding it, like many of the structures created by him do not respond positively to context, contrary to other architects the context is one of the last priorities in Thom Mayne’s list. It is because Thom Mayne believes in the phenomenon of rootless culture, he argues that in the current world of technology when everything is so connected and approachable, it eliminates the concept of culture being specific to a context, the culture is now more of a globalized ideology. 

His structure doesn’t act as an extension of European, American, or Asian architecture but rather stands as a tactile confrontation to the existing architecture around it that in the contemporary world we need a structure that is adaptive with the ever-changing human lives. 

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The series of the model created by Thom Mayne represent a morphological approach of envisioning our living spaces; it opens up endless possibilities of creating varied spaces that lead towards new ways of living. He believes that human DNA and architecture are a metaphor to each other in characteristics, the way DNA is the smallest part that combines to form the larger organism, yet every DNA is significant because each is responsible for giving a distinctive quality to the larger organism, so, architecture is the building block of the city each structure erecting in the contributes in shaping the lives of people. 

These series of the model were a way to emphasize on the concept each building within the city should have a unique character that provides new ways of living and a city dense with such structure will itself evoke a new way of living on individual and community level.

Thus, Thom Mayne is considered a rebellious architect because according to his ideology he denies the conventional notion of designing spaces and exploring new faces of architectural designing, especially delving deeper into the possibilities that technological architecture held about expanding and evolving our cities. He strongly believes in breaking away from conventional structures and design with the assistance of technology so that we can create spaces that are still not discovered.

Author

Aqsa is an architecture student and a self-taught writer. With keen interest in urban planning and cartography. She believes that words are the fourth or the unseen dimension of a space that can enable people to connect to spaces more than ever thus aiming to empower the architecture community through her voice.

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