Author Archives: Graham Shawcross

About Graham Shawcross

Architect PhD student at Edinburgh University Interested in order, rhythm and pattern in Architectural Design

Counting Ants This is not about how to count ants but how ants count. The post follows research by Zhanna Reznikova and Boris Ryabko that investigates the numerical capacities of ants using ideas from Information Theory such as Shannon entropy and Kolmogorov complexity. … Continue reading

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Cafetières, Disorder, Chaos and Anarchy

At breakfast this morning my wife spilt the coffee because she hadn’t aligned the strainer in the lid of a Bodum cafetière with its pouring sprout.   I suggest this is a stupid design, and “why aren’t the strainer holes all … Continue reading

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William Tutte’s Hidden Past

If William Tutte is remembered at all by architects, it is for his contribution to solving the problem of Squaring the Square . (Tutte 1958) A solution using Graph Theory and Kirchhoff’s Laws for electrical flow in wires that was subsequently used in Philip … Continue reading

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Missing Pullover Found

My long lost 1970s pullover, slip-over, or perhaps more properly 70s tank-top, has turned up at the back of a cupboard. Last year we had turned the house upside down looking for it. The design is apparently based on the colour … Continue reading

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Spatial Representation of Number

Francis Galton “…this peculiarity is found so far as my observations have extended, in about 1 out of every 30 adult males or 15 females. It consists in the sudden and automatic appearance of a vivid and invariable “Form” in … Continue reading

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Five Finger Exercises

Written and spoken numbers are represented differently. In English numbers are usually written with Arabic numerals or as a transliteration of the spoken version, for example 342 or three hundred and forty two. Rod counting provides a written representation of … Continue reading

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Chocolate Fireguards

A very short post on Chocolate Fireguards, which as the name suggests are objects which subvert their own function. The first example is a real fireguard, though not one actually made of chocolate. It is an example of an object … Continue reading

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Subitising

The school report of Emily, our 4 year old grandchild, said that she could subitise up to the number 6, and I had no idea what this meant. Subitising is a technical term that comes from the Latin root subito … Continue reading

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Severely Constrained Design

When a design problem is severely constrained it becomes possible to generate all solutions to the problem. That is, it is possible to close out the problem. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the design of British Local Authority 2 and 3 … Continue reading

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Embodied Materiality

This is another list, probably even a listicle, of objects with eccentric properties. In this case objects that are, or were originally, named for the materials they are made of. Richard Wentworth was the curator of the highly influencial 1999 … Continue reading

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