module 4

Module 4: Non-linear Shapes/Concrete Poems


In this module you will:

  • recognize the process behind some of the design decisions of conceptual/concrete poem makers
  • generate some hand-drawn forms for poems


  • Begin by reading the introduction at the bottom of this page, followed by:
  • There are no Architecture Workbook exercises for Module 4.
  • Preparatory Poems: Draw, sketch, or otherwise render a visual communication of your theme. If you feel like your design or visual skills wouldn’t do service to your vision, feel free to write a paragraph or two about what you would draw, sketch, collage, or paint if you could.


An image of workers standing atop a SuperAdobe building.
  • From an architectural website called “Bee Breeders”: “Nader Khalili invented the SuperAdobe construction method – also called the super block system – which uses layers of sand-filled bags coiled up and placed one upon the other and secured into a dome-shaped structure by barbed wire. The adobe structure is simple in appearance, but strong enough to resist floods, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes. It provides insulation against both cold and heat, and is quickly and can be easily constructed by men, women, or even young adults. The life-saving possibilities of the SuperAdobe construction method are limitless, and it was all inspired by the works of 13th century poet named Rumi. Kahlili combined Rumi’s philosophy on nature with the building methods of ancient Middle Eastern architecture that he encountered on a five-year motorcycle journey across his homeland of Iran. Nader Khalili realised that every jarful of earth could be used to create a dwelling, shelter a community and sustain the environment, creating a poetry on architecture that was patented to ensure it be used to help benefit those most in need.”
A sculpture in Kolkata exhibiting Buckminster Fuller's tensegrity technique
Tensegrity Structure – Science Park – Science City – Kolkata
  • From the Buckminster Fuller Institute: ” Buckminster Fuller spent much of the early 20th Century looking for ways to improve human shelter by: 1) Applying modern technological know-how to shelter construction. 2) Making shelter more comfortable and efficient. 3) Making shelter more economically available to a greater number of people. After acquiring some experience in the building industry and discovering the traditional practices and perceptions which severely limit changes and improvements in construction practices, Fuller carefully examined, and improved, interior structure equipment, including the toilet (similar to the ones now used in airplanes), the shower (which cleans more efficiently using less water), and the bathroom as a whole. He studied structure shells, and devised a number of alternatives, each less expensive, lighter, and stronger than traditional wood, brick, and stone buildings. He could do this, in part, because newer building materials were available, and partly because his structures use the principle of tension instead of the usual compression. About these homes, Fuller writes in 1928, “These new homes are structured after the natural system of humans and trees with a central stem or backbone, from which all else is independently hung, utilizing gravity instead of opposing it. This results in a construction similar to an airplane, light, taut, and profoundly strong.”
  • From the Wikipedia page on “Tensegrity”: “ Tensegrity, tensional integrity or floating compression is a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension , and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially. The term was coined by Buckminster Fuller  in the 1960s as a portmanteau of “tensional integrity”. The other denomination of tensegrity, floating compression, was used mainly by the constructivist artist Kenneth Snelson.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water house.
Falling Water
  • From the Wikipedia entry on “Organic Architecture”: Organic architecture is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world. This is achieved through design approaches that aim to be sympathetic and well-integrated with a site, so buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition. The term “organic architecture” was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright  (1867–1959) […]Organic architecture is also translated into the all-inclusive nature of Wright’s design process. Materials, motifs, and basic ordering principles continue to repeat themselves throughout the building as a whole. The idea of organic architecture refers not only to the buildings’ literal relationship to the natural surroundings, but how the buildings’ design is carefully thought about as if it were a unified organism. Geometries throughout Wright’s buildings build a central mood and theme.


The first hour we discussed the prep work, the second hour we worked with concrete poetry (video tutorial below), and the third hour we workshopped.