ARCHITECTURE & PHILOSOPHY: THOUGHTS ON BUILDING
Dr.-Ing. Markus Breitschmid, Architect, S.I.A. Assistant Professor of Architecture School of Architecture + Design Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University 201 Cowgill Hall Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0205 United States of America email@example.com
It is a legitimate assertion that most major figures who have shaped the course of architecture can be described as “theoreticians who build.” What distinguishes these architects from their architect colleagues of lesser status is the philosophical apparatus they have apprehended and made subject to their disposition. Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi, Peter Eisenman, Jacques Herzog & Pierre De Meuron, Rem Koolhass, to name an incomplete list of important architects of the last forty years and fit the description of “theoretician who builds” particularly well, have been weaving philosophical and architectural thought with their built work. Idea and object are two sides of the same coin. In other words, good architects are in full intellectual command of what they are designing. Curricula in most architecture schools establish the architectural studio as the largely unquestioned pillar in which architecture is coalesced by the student. There is a belief at work that suggests that the individual student is guided by inspiration as soon as s/he enters architecture school: The students sits at his or her desk and is waiting for a supernatural force to move their hands in such a manner that the sketch they produce will contain the germs of the next masterpiece. This approach to architectural education, practiced most naively in the USA in particular, is subject to the assumption that the students are geniuses. But how many of us are geniuses? And what does it mean to be a genius in the first place?
Therefore, architecture education should not be based on inspiration but on a rational discourse with the major concepts that make architecture. Architecture students have to encounter a discourse with the major concepts of architecture not in their graduate studies but in the beginning year of their architectural education because without that basic knowledge any more thorough understanding of architecture is not possible. Why would one wait to learn the intellectual basis of architecture until graduate school?
The course “Architecture & Philosophy: Thoughts on Building” examines not examples of contemporary architectural production but rather intellectual constructs from which they have arisen. The objective is to reveal the linguistic richness and semantic complexity of the language used in the discipline of architecture. Among the “key words” in the vocabulary of architecture are: abstract, aesthetics, art, avant-garde, beauty, building, construction, critique, deconstruction, form, function, genius, history, landscape, language, mimetic, modern, nature, phenomena, postmodern, program, representation, theory, topology, truth, typology, sublime, space, structure, style, system, world. The students explore the revolutions of these “key words” in architecture and learn to understand their shifting motivations, considering the work of theoretical reflections, writings, manifestos, treatises in the disciplines of philosophy, art, and architecture. The aim is to erect an intellectual scaffolding for knowledge in architecture and have available an apparatus to respond to the question What is architecture? from the outset of the student’s architectural studies.
Keywords: Architecture Philosophy Architectural Theory Inspiration vs. Rational Discourse Knowledge
ARCHITECTURE & PHILOSOPHY: THOUGHTS ON BUILDING Wanted: “Theoreticians Who Build” It is a legitimate assertion that most major figures who have shaped the course of architecture can be described as “theoreticians who build.” What distinguishes these architects from their architect colleagues of lesser status is the philosophical apparatus they have...
References: Breitschmid, Markus. Thoughts on Building. Zürich: Corporis Publisher for Architecture, Art, and Photography 2008 Breitschmid, Markus. Three Architects in Switzerland. Beat Consoni – Morger & Degelo – Valerio Olgiati. Lucerne: Quart Publishers 2008 Hammermeister, Kai. The German Aesthetic Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002 Tradition.
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