The prefigure, the figure, the animal 

In 1995, Lebbeus woods produced a series of drawings called The San Francisco Bay Project. In one of the drawings titled “The City and the Faults it Sits on”, what is perceived is a figure in the distance. The architecture seems to be in a metamorphosis, reconstructing with no clear signs of entrances. With a glance, one could even be unsure if the figure is made of several different figures, conformed to the site it inhabits. Trust is automatically broken in terms of inhabitability. Its deformations and posture transitions from high density facades, to more planar moves. The architecture conceals what we understand as a building, and its façade camouflages with the high-density city that is San Francisco.

Abbot Thayer’s description of concealment and camouflage questions the relationship of perceiving an object, versus the presence it has. These two categories on a normal day, co-exist together in a relationship that allows us to understand the world.


Abbot has proven that this relationship can be disrupted, and camouflage being the over-arching word for this disruptor. Abbot Thayer’s descriptions in the earlier half of the paper pays its attention to animals. If one were to think of architecture as animals, hunting, inhabiting its sites, and reconstructing, then this sparks the theory that there is a metamorphosis after this animal reaches ground. I would imagine camouflage architecture being hungry, introverted, and even abrasive. If the animal’s presence isn’t perceived by humans at the ground, the relationship of presence and perception is broken. The exterior can not be trusted, and humans can only go forth and inhabit the animal to understand its space. It seems camouflage architecture is then an external agent that breaks the trust that we have in a building’s presence. It appreciates its introverted attempts to conceal itself, and its intentions. These intentions translate to how one reads a buildings program, apertures, and posture. The prefigure is its tool of manipulation.