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Esma Eroğlu

Published Apr 14, 2021

Architecture endeavors to create new methods of interpretation and design by considering different ideas and statements to define good aesthetics.  Making interdisciplinary borders transparent and enabling the transitivity of terms can be seen as a way of alternative thinking that ensures the development of new types of architectural production.  Seeing the concept of repetition in its etymological and intellectual transmission in similar transparency can create new types of interpretation in architecture. Experiencing advanced thinking techniques using philosophy has created different theorems where architectural repetition is practiced a current issue. In other words, discussing the expansion of repetition with variable contents and multiple meanings enables the production of various statements about the types of organization in architecture.

The dictionary definition of repetition is the similar, identical and same rhythmical movement or iteration. The concepts to which this lexical meaning refers and the intellectual meaning of repetition are expressed differently in classical philosophy and modern philosophy. An abundance of meanings can define different interpretations on every level, but this text is based on Deleuze’s idea of repetition. Deleuze comprehends repetition in two ways by handling it as a creation that contains difference. The first is repetition that produces intrinsic similarity in the repetition of the same, and the second is real repetition that produces intrinsic difference. According to Deleuze, the first meaning of repetition involves factors that create the identical, the similar and the same existing together. Finding the subject of real repetition yields the second meaning of repetition – difference. “Repetition must be understood in the pronominal; we must find the Self of repetition, the singularity within that which repeats. For there is no repetition without a repeater, nothing repeated without a repetitious soul” (Deleuze 2017, p. 23). Deleuze tries to distinguish the similarity of repetition from real repetition. He states that the real form of repetition is the one that occurs by creating difference. However, in the creation of this representation, the concepts of copy, same or similar should not be sought in extrinsic difference, but in the intrinsic difference that real repetition creates.  As Deleuze writes, “The first repetition is repetition of the Same, explained by the identity of the concept or representation; the second includes difference, and includes itself in the alternate of the Idea, in the heterogeneity of an ‘a-presentation’” (Deleuze 2017, p. 24). The second repetition’s new meaning differs from the term’s dictionary definition, which describes similar or identical repetition.

According to Deleuze, real repetition is the epitome of difference and defines a “becoming.”  Repetition fundamentally reveals difference and opens to the spectrum that creates difference in every iteration. Deleuze’s repetition is not an iteration that creates intrinsic similarity such as identity, similarity and representation, but an iteration that interiorizes difference and then creates.  At this point, repetition eludes its common meaning.  Deleuze’s repetition can be expressed as a guide to new creation and formation in art and architecture. The soul that Deleuze’s repetition brings to art promises vividness as a creative power for new and unique creations.  It is the search for discovering new natures of difference, dynamism, evolution, disguise, intensity, asymmetry, chaos and liberation by breaking free from the same and similar nature of representation and identity.  It is defined as creating difference in new realities by abandoning the dogmatic, traditional and mono-centrist field.  Deleuze’s repetition, as experienced in a work of art or architecture, does not predict a model or accept sticking to an ideal type. It wishes to identify new creations in repetitions that interiorize difference.  With Deleuze’s repetition, art and architecture also moves away from the field of representation.

Architecture’s existence in the historical process involves a variety of factors that create repetition. Repetition is an action in intellectual and stylistic creations such as drawing comparisons, complying, representation, technical requirements and habits.  Although the repetition obtained with these aims direct us to the Deleuze’s first definition of repetition, architecture as a new type of idea can generate new formations in theory and practice with Deleuze’s second concept of repetition that produces difference. This repetition defines a new field in modern thinking: “instead of repeating elements, set up systems that continuously differentiate its elements” (Schumacher 2011, p. 297). Deleuze’s repetition puts irregularity, noncompliance, chaos, asymmetry and confusion at the center of the idea with a derogatory attitude and is beginning to be seen in platforms that affirm difference. There is no place for monotony, equality, symmetry or homogeneity in these platforms because they repeat intrinsic similarity, the original meaning of repetition (Eisenman 1984, p. 217).  Repetition in architecture should be conceptualized not as intrinsic similarity, identity and sameness, but as the creation of intrinsic difference.  Deleuze’s idea breaks old models based on representation, symbols or ideal types and gives way to differentiating, changing, complex and deformed creations such as the neo-Baroque twists of Frank Gehry, the cubistic folds of Rem Koolhaas, and the futuristic vectors of Zaha Hadid (Foster 2013, p. 36).

The ideas and experiences in which repetition exists are singularities that prioritize creation and resumption rather than completion. This creates a lively and dynamic process for architecture. Therefore, it will keep generating new spatial statements and keep reproductivity alive all the time. Architecture can open new doors into new experiences for every spatial creation changing in repetition. Deleuze’s new concept of repetition can be seen as a key to defining modern architecture, because it can create new and real perceptions that will redefine and discuss history and the future with this interpretation of repetition.  Repetition is the forerunner of creations that will make reproducing ideas permanent for architecture in this era when a changing world is defined by new paradigms. Thus, the effect of the meaning of Deleuze’s ideas about repetition on architecture can be read as a contribution to the idea of design in modern architecture.


Deleuze, G. (1994). Difference and Repetition. Paul Button, trans. New York: Columbia University Press.

Eisenman, P. (1984). “The End of the Classical: The End of the Beginning, the End of the End” in Theorizing A New Agenda For Architecture an Ontology of Architectural Theory 1965-1995. Kate Nesbitt, ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Foster, H. (2013). The Art-Architecture Complex. London: Verso Books.

Schumacher, P. (2011). The Autopoiesis of Architecture, A New Framework for Architecture. New York: John Wiley & Sons Publishers.

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