If you look throughout architectural history, the bulk of everything people have built has been rectangular. Sure, there have been examples and styles which have not been inherently square, like igloos, yurts, some choice Roman buildings, and so on.
This dimensional monopoly interests me. As humans, we are really not designed to operate in cube environments. Our limbs move on what are pretty much arcs. Our hands are better at describing curves than tangents, even our bodies are curvilinear. It seems amazing that we continue to force ourselves into dealing with squares.
While I think that at some time, the bulk of the push towards squareness has been due to the apparent lack of construction ease at which non-rectilinear environments could be built. In modern times, curve-making technology is not so much an issue. Is it just the coasting of style? Perhaps it’s the inertia of all the made goods we have?
Recently, our best shot at living in something that was not inherently square was the Geodesic dome. Bucky showed us that things did not have to be square and we could put up homes in a fraction of the time. In fact, they’d actually be easy. The problem? Where the hell do you get hexagonal curtains? Perhaps more importantly, how do you divide up interior space when everything you could put in there is a rectangle?
Our square stuff doesn’t really fit in something that isn’t. If you’re an interior decorator who’s really good, you could probably do it – otherwise no. This ill-fitting can be seen rather obviously when perusing finished dome homes. People try really hard to make them square but they obviously are not.
I can’t blame them really, because even NASA, when making a habitat for people who have no weight, direction and are floating in space, as well as building in a shape that is in fact circular, made a square out of it.
I think the future of design, especially when it comes to expressive architecture, is going to be curvilinear. It really should be. Not just on the outside, either. The inside is going to be the stickiest point. Of course a a lot of very forward thinking architects have been predicting this change, but the connecting of our world of right angles to the world of the arc is going to be a big change: everything that we have as life accessories will have to change.
Personally, I think we’ve pushed the square as far as it can go. We’ve reached that point that the Abstract Expressionist did. We’ve taken everything out of our boxes and now we are coasting on revisions of the same theme. Something new will happen, it will be curves and we have to prepare ourselves to live in a curved world.