Yiliu Shen-Burke


In “A Discourse on Method,” Sanford Kwinter attributes James D. Goodwin’s 1988 paper, “How The Leopard Got Its Spots” with marking a new biological paradigm. Under the epigenetic paradigm, biological form is not the result of faithfully decoded genetic instructions contained in the embryo’s nuclei alone, but rather, it arises from the interaction between this genetic information and “chemical and field systems flowing through one another” during an organism’s development.

De/Cohere is an exploration of the way in which the controlled and calibrated interactions of several fields of effects are overlain one upon another and allowed to alternately and constructively reinforce or destructively interfere while generating architecturally, programmatically, and qualitatively responsive space. These fields of effects have an origin and functional definition in relation to the building site; the sum of their interactions on the space and form of the building—a new library annex for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts—is a source of continuous novelty, demanding a combination of analytical and experimental form-finding in its use as an architectural design tool.

De/Cohere also posits that the building is not as a standalone instantiation of Architecture, but rather a privileged locus of existing social, political, cultural, economic, and material networks in which matters reach a state of crisis. The fields that generate the new annex are continuous and infinite. However, as their influence dissipates and becomes merely noise as distance from their respective origins increases, their generative power must eventually acquiesce to the other competing fields and forces of site—the urban, and perhaps the natural as well.

About The Designer

Yiliu Shen-Burke is currently pursuing his M.Arch from the Harvard GSD, and holds a bachelor's degree in Economics-Statistics from Columbia University. Yiliu has professional experience with Barkow Leibinger Architects (Berlin), June14 Meyer-Grohbrügge Chermayeff (Berlin), and Morgan Stanley (Hong Kong).