The Lion King film comparison of both conditions—the whole hairstyle dominating in the first movie, and the individual parts making up the whole in the second one—shows the inherent duality of fur-as-surface and fur-as-array. The 1994 fur is always flat and never multiple. By contrast, the 2019 fur, which is a product of the digital age, employs a topographic skin that is populated with a series of interrelated primary and secondary hairs. Adult Simba's mane consists of 700,000 strands of hair in which 1% are 'lead' hairs and guide the movement of any surrounding tresses.
Architecture has always had a hair problem, too. The single follicle (or part) must necessarily negotiate with the hairstyle (or whole). As an irreducible, atomized absolute, the strand of hair is architecture's default single-pixel part that aggregates into a greater whole. It is one fraction of a modular, standardized, repeatable, rearrangeable, and replaceable system usually guided by an additive process. One ubiquitous example of this is the unit of the brick, which defines the scales and resolutions of an object, whether such object is as small as a wall or as large as a city. Rather than having any character of their own, architecture's hairs are only masterful and complete when they make up a hairstyle. Such hairs can be clay, terracotta, and mushroom bricks, but other times concrete masonry units, pillows, rooms, lawn chairs, skateboard off-cuts, and even megapixels. The hair versus the hairdo is a conceptual problem at the core of every compositional endeavor.
Much like film and animation, architecture has experienced a digital transformation in the last 30 years. In many cases, this transformation has moved away from the raster and toward the vector, assigning directionality and movement to architecture's parts. This suggests that component-based architecture has begun to swirl and coif in ways that make it behave even more like hair. As Caroline O'Donnell points out in Niche Tactics: Generative Relationships Between Architecture and Site, Tim Ingold's diagrams of a human's relationship to the earth and sky are best understood when one studies the effect of wind, weather, and land unto the human. Unlike an 'exhabitant,' an 'inhabitant' of the earth has an orientation, a gait, and hair to interface with the environment. This tactical relationship to context can also be perceived in ecologically responsive architecture, where a favoring of the edge condition of a given whole increases the legibility and performance of the architecture.