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Shape sifter

Eleanor Young

Geometry in the round

Why do we need to square the circle? The knights of the round table, fairy circles in a forest clearing, a group gathered round a camp fire, charred potatoes hotly split open, flames flickering, voices raised in song; there is something mystical, powerful (and equitable) about the intentional circle. You see it in landmark libraries. Oxford’s Radcliffe Camera, Aalto’s Stockholm, Manchester Central Library and now in South Shields  – they bring the experiential power of being encompassed by knowledge, yet grounded in the centre. Building at scale, with cladding components delivered in large flat sheets, circles look like an indulgence. We are in the land of the compass versus the set square. Hold on, we are in 2017 with BIM, parametricism and all that. Perhaps we could use them to smoothe the curves of wilfully complex forms and go back to the circle. 


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