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Giving Orders by Rodney Black Design Studios
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Giving Orders Title

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Giving Orders is a book about order, the way order invests in the natural world from the extents of the cosmos down to the smallest particles. The relevance of the orders to architecture has been lost. However, the significance of physical laws to our lives could not be stronger. Our communication and control systems are derived from an understanding of the order underlying the behaviour of matter and energy.


Once poetry demanded form, meter and rhyme – now poetry is freed as word building. To the ancients, architecture was defined by the concept of the orders. Now, the distinction between building and architecture has become blurred. Rodney Black does not argue that the orders are essential for a building to be considered a work of architecture. However, he emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and referencing them in architectural design.


Giving Orders takes us on a journey from pre-history, exploring the orders through cross-cultural references and uncovering connections between architecture, architects, human instincts, and the fundamental forces that govern the cosmos. The orders are therefore allegories.


Giving Orders is not a copy book, though there are plenty of drawn examples; it is an architectural tour from the awakening of awareness to the age of advanced Astro- and particle-physics.



early plate tectonic India - Himalaya-fo



Imagine some of the first primates riding the Indian sub-continent northwards, colliding with the Asian land mass, pushing up the Himalayas. Balmy weather, changing landscape, then, little by little, the highest mountains on earth become a reality, causing massive climate change, giving rise to a vast river system. We now know that early primates were there when the collision happened. Perhaps the event burned into our heritable memory. Similar collisions occurred with Spain, Italy and Greece, Turkey and Arabia. There have been a lot of full-on knocks, quite apart from grinding side swipes. ​ The timescales are long for primates – the Indian collision happened in stages. First, collision with islands, then the Indian plate began to slide under the Asian followed by the dramatic effects of the impact. In broad terms, it happened 50 million years ago, a vast tract of time in architectural terms. Homo sapiens’ state of becoming was at a very early stage at this time; our forebears then looked something like a smart squirrel. As a being, the conjectural ancestral Y chromosome male Homo sapiens is calculated to have existed from c. 250,000 BCE, about 1/200th of the timescale of the Indian plate collision; the female conjectural X chromosome has existed for a shorter period for reasons this book will not even attempt to explain. It is a large jump from an early, possibly unrelated primate in the late Cretaceous period, to a set of the orders of architecture. But this is a jump we are going to try to make. ​ About 200 million years ago, four times as long ago as the tectonic crash in South Asia, it is thought the brain as an entity, irrespective of species, could distinguish music from sound more generally. This view of the brain’s development is available because the faculty to distinguish exists now in relevant species – birds and crocodiles – which have not undergone significant evolution in the interim. The jump is therefore an easier one than it might have been. The brain appears at an early stage of its evolution to have been able to distinguish pattern, music from noise or signal, to find figure amongst background.

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