Jiajing Yang: Exploring rhythm of time in architecture

Rhythm is a regular pattern of movement. “Time is the organized and organizing medium of the rhythmic ebb and flow of expectant impulse, forward and retracted movement, resistance and suspense, with fulfillment and consummation”(Dewey, 1980, p.23). Many architects desire to grasp the rhythm of time: “cyclical time (seasons, night, weather) or linear time (programmatic change, dirt, ageing, social drift)”(Till, 2009, p. 79), abolish the elements of time and control the “immutable authority”(Till, 2009, p. 79) of rhythm in architecture. However, this idea dooms to fail because rhythm occurs continuously only if interaction between people and architecture context is involved in the process of living. Aesthetic experience takes place in the rhythmic process of fulfillment.

In order to marshal the defense of rhythm in architecture, a number of strategies are used. Photographs is a tool to control, freeze and stop time in architecture.

Photograph is an equipment to capture and freeze particular moment of rhythm. Reconstructed works-Europe (PepVentosa, 2012)is a famous series of photograph taken by Pep Ventosa and the content of pictures are some symbolic building in Europe. These images were created by dozens of several hundred separated photographs in different time then each fragment was reconstructed one by one to create a special narrative space. In terms of each piece, photograph aptures an idealized moment which avoid rhythm comes in to disrupt, it means each fragment allow people forget what has come before and what has come after. For example, one fragment represents a moment of the building in a particular time point. From this picture, people never know the façade was painted a moment ago and façade will get the stain by scrawl in the next moment. Objects in photographs are out of rhythm out of time. Photograph seems fulfill the dream that architecture in these photographs has the power to exist above rhythm. However, if reconstructed each puzzle pieces together, every moment, and every memory starts connect, rhythm starts rebirth. From picture, architecture in reconstructed works-Europe shows the rhythm of a cumulative process. Colors of façade changes from red to pink and finally it becomes brown. “The past is carried into the present so as to expand and deepen the content of the latter”(Dewey, 2009, p.24). Moment and places is not a dead spot in isolation, they are “charged with accumulations of long-gathering energy”(Dewey, 2009, p.24). Thus, canceling rhythm of architecture is doomed to failure in photographs.

Being part of the metamorphosis project has given me the opportunity to transform interesting thesis into art. I am enjoying being part of the metamorphosis team.


  1. Dewey, J. [1934] (1980)Art as Experience. New York: Perigee Books.
  1. Till, J. (2009) Architecture depends.Cambridge: The MIT Press.
  1. Pep Ventosa (2012) Constructed work-Europe.[Online]




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