New Relevancies Between Cultural Context and Spatial Discourse: An Evolution of Patterns through Methods, Models and Techniques


This paper traces the evolution of patterns in architecture since early Modernism and links it to the socio-political and technological context of each period. The theme of patterns and its applications is a suitable one through which to rethink architecture’s values about making and living in relation to theories, ideals and priorities. A comparative examination of patterns further prompts revisiting concepts, notions, models and problematics of Twentieth-century architecture, this present time through a computational framing. In respect, this paper first draws upon systemic, structural, geometric and relational patterns developed since early Modernism; then, it delves into dynamic and adaptive patterns employed during late Modernism to respond to the emerging challenges of urban life. It is with the advent of computing that late Modernism’s aspirations have found a strong advocate by which to support complex pattern thinking, adding a cross-scientific perspective into architecture’s discourse.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

(Source: Anna Donou and Yannis Zavoleas, 2011)

Fig. 2

(Joop van Stigt. Prix de Rome. 1962, image redrawn by the authors from original)

Fig. 3

(Source: Eleni Vayanou, Kyriaki Papathanasopoulou, Yannis Zavoleas. 2013)

Fig. 4

(Source: Claudia Smith, Yannis Zavoleas, Mark Taylor, Peter Stevens, Tania Papasotiriou. 2017)

Fig. 5

(Source: Lia Dalaka, Thalia Poziou, Yannis Zavoleas. 2012)

Fig. 6

(Source: Vassilis Antonopoulos, Yannis Zavoleas. 2013)


  1. Abdullah, Yahya and Mohamed Rashid Bin Embi. 2013. Evolution of Islamic Geometric Patterns. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 2(2): 243–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alexander, Christopher, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein, with Max Jacobson; Ingrid Fiksdahl-King and Angel Shlomo. 1977. A Pattern Language. New York: Oxford University Press.

  3. Allen, Stan. 2001. Mat urbanism: The thick 2-D. In: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital, eds. Hashim Sarkis, Pablo Allard and Timothy Hyde, 118–126. New York: Prestel.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Angelucci, Giulia and Fabrizio Mollaioli. 2018. Voronoi-Like Grid Systems for Tall Buildings. Frontiers in Built Environment, 4, (#78).

  5. Athanasopoulos, Georgios-Spyridon. 2020. Emerging Spanning Trees in the Work of Candilis–Josic–Woods. Nexus Network Journal.

  6. Burns, Karen Lisa. 2003. Surface: Architecture's Expanded Field. Architectural Design 73(2): 86–91.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Chen, Shaoming. 2014. Study of Town Planning Based on Semantic Network Method. Master thesis, Northeast Forestry University.

  8. Critchlow, Keith. 1976. Islamic Patterns: An Analytical and Cosmological Approach, New York: Schocken Books.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Dong, Jun and Guangtian Zou. 2011. Semantic Network Method of Urban Design Scheming. Advanced Materials Research 368–373: 3384–3387.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Dong, Jun, Yongjun Wang and Rongrong Yu. 2020. Application of the Semantic Network Method to Sightline Compensation Analysis of the Humble Administrator’s Garden. Nexus Network Journal.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Driscoll, John Charles. 2020. Fractal Patterns as Fitness Criteria in Genetic Algorithms Applied as a Design Tool in Architecture. Nexus Network Journal

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Foltz, Peter W. 2001. Semantic Processing: Statistical Approaches. In: International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, eds. Neil J. Smelser, Paul B. Baltes, 13873–13878, Pergamon.

  13. Güzelci, Orkan Zeynel, Sema Alaçam, Asena Kumsal Şen Bayram, Igor Lacroix. 2020. Measuring the Entropy of Sinan’s Muqarnas Patterns. Nexus Network Journal.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Guallart, Vicente. 2008. Geo Logics: Geography Information Architecture. Barcelona and New York: Actar.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Le Corbusier. 2007 (1923). Toward an Architecture. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute.

  16. Lin, Chieh-Jen. 2015. Design Criteria Modelling: Ontology-Based Parametric Modeling for Representing Architectural Design Criteria at the Conceptual Design Stage. In: Emerging Experience in Past, Present and Future of Digital Architecture, Proceedings of the 20th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA). eds. Yasushi Ikeda, Christiane M. Herr, Dominik Holzer, Sawako Kaijima, Mi Jeong Kim. Mark Aurel Schnabel, 479–488. CAADRIA, Daegu.

  17. Migayrou, Frederic. 2002. Particularities of the Minimum. In: Archilab’s Futurehouse: Radical Experiments in Living Space, eds. Marie-Ange Brayer and Beatrice Simonot, 15–18. New York: Thames and Hudson.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Nazzi, Francesco. 2016. The Hexagonal Shape of the Honeycomb Cells depends on the Construction Behavior of Bees. Scientific Reports, 6: 28341.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Olave, Cristobal, Diana. 2020. The Computer-Aided Rough Patterns of Christopher Alexander. Nexus Network Journal.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Ostwald, Michael J. and Josephine L. Vaughan. 2016. The Fractal Dimension of Architecture. Cham: Birkhauser.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Ramirez, Juan Antonio. 2000. The Beehive Metaphor: From Gaudi to Le Corbusier. London: Reaktion Books.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ratti, Carlo and Matthew Claudel. 2015. Open Source Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Su, Hsiu-Pai and Nik Sheng-Fen Chien. 2016. Revealing Patterns: Using Parametric Design Patterns in Building Façade Design Workflow. In: Living Systems and Micro-Utopias: Towards Continuous Designing, Proceedings of the 21st International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA). eds. Sheng-Fen Chien, Seungyeon Choo, Mark Aurel Schnabel, Walaiporn Nakapan, Mi Jeong Kim, Stanislav Roudavski, 167–176. CAADRIA, Melbourne.

  24. Van Eyck, Aldo. 1959. The Story of Another Idea. Forum, 7: 206–207.

  25. Van Heuvel, Wim J. 1992. Structuralism in Dutch Architecture. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij 010 Publishers.

  26. Zavoleas, Yannis and Mark Taylor. 2019. From Cartesian to Topological Geometry: Challenging Flatness in Architecture. Nexus Network Journal, 21(1): 5–18.

  27. Zavoleas, Yannis. 2010. Layering as a Systematic Approach to Spatial Order. In: Architectural Theory: A Technical Practice?, Transactions on Architectural Education, No.43, eds. Hilde Heynen, Alex Rauta, 402–410. Brussels: EAAE–ENHSA.

  28. Zavoleas, Yannis. 2012. House-as-machine: The Influences of Technology During Early Modernism. In: Rethinking the Human in Technology Driven Architecture, eds. Maria Voyatzaki, Constantin Spiridonidis, 381–393. Brussels: EAAE-ENHSA.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yannis Zavoleas.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zavoleas, Y., Taylor, M. New Relevancies Between Cultural Context and Spatial Discourse: An Evolution of Patterns through Methods, Models and Techniques. Nexus Netw J 23, 5–19 (2021).

Download citation


  • Dom-ino
  • Grid
  • Nested patterns
  • Structuralism
  • Honeycomb
  • Bio-dynamic patterns
  • Fractals
  • Complexity
  • Semantic network method