Complexity & Order

Complexity & Order is
rich sensory information
that adheres to a spatial
hierarchy similar to those
encountered in nature.

THe eXPeRIenCe

A space with good Complexity & Order feels engaging and information-rich, as an intriguing balance between boring and overwhelming


The Complexity & Order pattern has evolved from research on fractal geometries and preferred views; the perceptual and physiological responses to the complexity of fractals in nature, art and architecture; and the predictability of the occurrence of design flows and patterns in nature


The objective of the Complexity & Order pattern is to provide symmetries and fractal geometries, configured with a coherent spatial hierarchy, to create a visually nourishing environment that engenders a positive psychological or cognitive response. A familiar challenge in the built environment is in identifying the balance between an information rich environment that is interesting and restorative, and one with an information surplus that is overwhelming and stressful. Design considerations that may help create a quality Complexity & Order condition:

  • Prioritize artwork and material selection, architectural expressions, and landscape and master planning schemes that reveal fractal geometries and hierarchies.
  • Fractal structures with iterations of three will be more impactful than a design limited to two iterations.
  • Computer technology using the algorithms of mathematical and geometric functions can produce fractal designs for architectural, design and planning applications with ease. If a fractal design is being created, consider using geometries with a mid-range dimensional ratio (broadly speaking, D=1.3-1.75).
  • Over-use of and/or extended exposure to high-fractal dimensions could instill discomfort or even fear, countering the intended response: to nourish and reduce stress. Avoidance or under-utilization of fractals in design could result in complete predictability and disinterest.
  • A new building or landscape design should take into account its impact on the fractal quality of the existing urban skyline.

• Wallpaper and carpet design
• material texture and contour
• Window details: trim and moldings, glass color, texture, mullion design, window reveal detail
• Plant selection variety and placement
• Complex plant oil fragrances
• Auditory stimuli

• exposed structure/exoskeleton
• exposed mechanical systems
• Façade materials
• Façade, spandrel and window hierarchy
• Building skyline
• Floor plan, landscape plan, urban grid
• Pedestrian and traffic flows
• Resource flows

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