Rhythm as mode, theory and concept in Architectural Design

In his last project the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre began to develop rhythmanalysis; an attempt to understand the pulse and life of the city combining the strengths of the overview of the urban choreography as seen from a window with the intense experiences of living it down in the streets. The aim was developing a theory where both qualitative and quantitative aspects of rhythms allowed a complex understanding of urban life. Like polyrhythms in music, combinations of individually simple rhythms form a complex, living whole. This seminar series, a Masters' level theory course at the KTH School of Architecture, aimed to discuss the concept of rhythm in relation to architecture and urbanity based on Lefebvre’s work but complemented by other sources both internal and external to the field, and workinged with concepts such as paces, flows, pauses, presences, absences, pulses, kinaestethics and coreography, repetition and change, order, narrative, complexity, bodies-cities, composition, et cetera. The seminars were thematically focused on different aspects of rhythm as well as different methods tied to more concrete spaces. Compared to Lefebvre’s theory, the seminar series was more focused on the concept of rhythm as an architectural and urban design concept. The series included a participation in artistic research experiments on rhythm in urban or architectural space in co-operation with Monica Sand.


The course was based on seminars on (1) theoretical text, (2) practical experiments (tasks), and (3) prepared workshops working with your studio projects – with the focus on the former two. At the final seminar you a short essay based on at least two of these three parts was presented. Through the course different forms of representing rhythms in terms of diagrams, images, stories and descriptions were investigated, contributing to the final presentation. As a first tasks to begin reflecting over the idea of ‘rhythm’ in architecture or urban design, each student prepared a maximum of one or two pictures, objects or similar, and a short (about two-minutes) presentation of it.

Rhythmanalysis Structure Literature Media Magazine