In rethinking scale, a first move is to shift away from scale as a noun, describing a mathematical function or geometric transformation, towards scaling as a verb. In her ethnographic study of the office of OMA, anthropologist Albena Yaneva writes of scaling as “an experimental situation… an apparatus” by which designers configure and inquire into what they’re designing. “[T]he rhythm of scaling”, she says, “relies on procedures for partial seeing: scoping, rescaling, extending and reducing the material features of scale models.” In other words, scaling operations are not simply about controlling size, they are also about editing, filtering, omitting, and framing. Working across scales, or jumping between them allows a building to exist simultaneously as abstract and precise:

“The final building is never present in any single state or model, but in what all of them together project. That is why the building is a multiple object: a composition of many elements; a ‘multiverse’ instead of a ‘universe'”

Yaneva, A. (2005). Scaling Up and Down: Extraction Trials in Architectural DesignSocial Studies of Science35(6), 867–894.


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