Since the emergence of digital design techniques in combination with so-called responsive materials, the concept of organic forms in architecture seems to be gaining a new quality. The resemblance to an organism should no longer apply only superficially but be inscribed in the materiality as well as in the history of origin and functioning. This article addresses these new transformative effects between architecture and biology. They are presented primarily in relation to the structural architecture of the 1960s and the computational architectural systems since the 1990s. One focus of architecture is on dynamic forms that adapt themselves to their environment by means of flexible materials and generative algorithms. Here, architecture as technically animated matter no longer involuntarily competes with creative nature but is seen as part of a reciprocal relationship. This reciprocal relationship is specified by recourse to various architectural models. The models’ approaches suggest that organic-looking forms are generated by simulated biological processes. The article examines this claim of the models from the perspective of the history of architecture and design. It shows how, since the mid-twentieth century, a renewal of architectural design practice has been sought by reformulating morphological questions at the intersection of biological and cybernetic discourses.

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