Architectural Exaptation: When Function Follows Form focuses on the significance and the originality of the study of exaptation. It presents exaptation as an opportunity to extend architectural design towards more sustainable approaches aimed at enforcing urban resilience.

The use of exaptation’s definition in architecture supports the heuristic value of cross-disciplinary studies on biology and architecture, which seem even more relevant in times of global environmental crises. This book aims to make a critique of the pre-existing and extensive paternalistic literature. Exaptation will be described as a functional shift of a structure that already had a prior, but different, function. In architecture, a functional shift of a structure that already had a function may apply to forms of decorative elements embedded in architectural components, and to both change of function of tectonic elements and the change of use of an architectural space. The book is illustrated with examples from around the globe, including China, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, the USA and the UK, and looks at different civilizations and diverse historical periods, ranging from the urban to the architectural scale. Such examples highlight the potential and latent human creative capacity to change the use and functions, something that cities and buildings could consider when facing disturbances. Exaptation is shown as an alternative narrative to the simplifications of evolutionary puritanism. It also offers an innovative perspective and presents an opportunity to re-think the manner in which we design and redesign our cities.

This book will be of interest to architecture, planning, urban design and biology researchers and students.

chapter 1|12 pages


Architectural Exaptation

chapter 2|25 pages


The Interplay between Forms and Functions

chapter 3|12 pages


The Possible Is Greater Than the Real

chapter 4|13 pages

Back to the Future

chapter 5|12 pages

Redefining Architecture

Towards a Taxonomy of Exaptation

chapter 6|9 pages

Dynamic Adaptation

Shifting Functions in Architecture across Time and Contexts

chapter 7|7 pages

Göbekli Tepe

Challenging Narratives and Rethinking Architecture History

chapter 8|14 pages

Learning from History

The Case of Venice and the inexplicability of Mannerism

chapter 9|13 pages

Romantic Architecture as a Manifestation of Exaptation

The Case of Alessandro Gherardesca

chapter 12|10 pages

Architectural Exaptation and Informality

chapter 13|18 pages

Practice Based Research and Exaptation

Case Studies

chapter 14|16 pages

The Art Is a Spandrel

Drawings as a Manifestation of Exaptation

chapter 16|18 pages

The Italian Pavilion at La Biennale Venezia 2021

Embracing Complexity and Darkness

chapter 17|8 pages


Architectural Evolution, Exaptation and Adaptive Spandrels