The Cybernetic Hypothesis & Architecture


  • Fredrik Torisson The School of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm



Cybernetics, Hauntology, Post-critical, Architecture, Neo-liberal


Whatever happened to cybernetics in architecture? Cybernetics was swaggering from day one. Its original mission, to predict the evasive manoeuvres of bomber pilots, soon evolved into making predictions in social systems and game theory. In the early 1960s, cybernetics began to make inroads into architecture, famously so in the never-realised Fun Palace, designed by architect Cedric Price, theatre director Joan Littlewood and cyberneticist Gordon Pask. Pask continued developed his thoughts on the uses for cybernetics in the field of architecture, and in 1969 published “The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics” (Gordon Pask, "The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics," Architectural Design, no. September, 1969). By then however, cybernetics’ moment had all but passed, and cybernetics faded into obscurity. Or, so the story goes.

What if, on the contrary, cybernetics disappeared in name only, and its principles thrive architectural practices? Tiqqun’s ‘The Cybernetic Hypothesis’ argues that the cybernetic hypothesis replaces the liberal hypothesis of sovereignty with one of control (Tiqqun, "L'hypothèse Cybernétique," Tiqqun 2, 2001).
What we then have is architecture haunted by cybernetics – simultaneously be not-present and not-absent, following Jacques Derrida (Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, New York: Routledge, 2006).

The article retraces cybernetics in architecture, discusses Pask’s take on architecture and cybernetics, and aims to articulate how cybernetics remains not-present and not-absent to the architectural discipline in the “post-critical” architecture that currently dominates (or suffocates) the architectural theory discourse since the turn of the millennium.


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How to Cite

Torisson, F. (2017). The Cybernetic Hypothesis & Architecture. Histories of Postwar Architecture, 1(1).