ARCHITECTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY IN ARCHITECTURAL SCHOOLS
Structure of a Compact Course
By Nold Egenter
This is a proposal for a compact course at architectural schools. It was held similarly at the Oslo-School of Architecture (1993) and at the Cultural Centre, Grosznjan, Istria, Croatia, Aug. 27.-Sept.5. 1993 and at CEPT, Centre for Envrionmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, India (1992)
(8 days; 2 hours per day)
1. INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY I
- State of research: The origins of recent architectural research (Crisis of architecture and urbanism at the end of the 60ies (A. Mitscherlich, Jane Jacobs, Amos Rapoport and others);
- The present state of research (Architecture researches: on worldwide networks and on Berkeley's 'Traditional Dwellings and Settlement Research Program');
- Recent problems of architectural research and an outlook into the future.
2. INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY II
- Aspects of the evolutionary approach: The essential structure of Architectural Anthropology (Subhuman-, semantic, domestic, sedentary architecture);
- On the methodology (Ogburn: cultural lag, 'survivals'; Wernhart: structural history; constructive structuralism and structural ergology);
- Main fields of research (Architectural ethnology, architectural ethnohistory, architectural ethno-prehistory, cross-cultural comparative research; architectural primatology; the architectural approach to cultural anthropology);
- Cultural conditions (favourable research regions, various regions of Asia, in particular, India, China, the Japanese archipelago as 'Galapagos of cultural and architectural research').
3. SEMANTIC ARCHITECTURE AND THE THEORY OF SPACE
- Cosmos and cosmetics (two basic studies: Otto Friedrich Bollnow, Dagobert Frey);
- 'Implosion' and 'Harmony of Opposites' (a revolutionary change of paradigms towards a humanisation of space);
- The importance of research into the locality of space;
- Semantic Architecture (Man marking his dwelling and settlement territory with built signs and symbols);
- Japanese examples; 'Lifetrees', 'fetishes' and 'maypoles' (world-wide sources of semantic architecture).
4. DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE AND THE THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE
- Two examples: the house-tradition of Japanese agriculturists (bipartition of floorplan, ritual function of the house);
- Traditional dwellings and the environmental structure of a hunters-gatherers society in the North of Japan (Ainu);
- Gustav Ränk and the conical huts of the North- Eurasian belt (tremendous cross-cultural continuity of traditional interior design of dwelling);
- Polar asymmetry (a new anthropologically founded design principle);
- Critical review of conventional theories regarding the origin of huts, houses and building (Rykwert, on Adam's House and others).
5. IMPLICATIONS FOR ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN I
a) Critical approach:
- Review of Western theories of the Architect and Design (problems of the 'Artist-Design-Complex');
- Udo Kultermann's 'History of the History of Art' (The artist-design-complex is essentially a product of the outgoing Middle-ages and Renaissance);
- Wittkower's naive belief in rationalism (The historian neglects the architectural tradition and its own values);
- Wölfflin's analytical misunderstanding of art (Art cannot be analyzed).
b) Synthetic approach:
- The creativity potential (knowlege and research into architectural anthropology as a liberation from outdated 'theories');
- Experimental Architecture (René Magritte as Architecturologist);
- Gottfried Semper's architectural evolutionism reviewed and revalued (the great forerunner of Architectural Anthropology).
6. IMPLICATIONS FOR ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN II
a) Critical approach:
- Botta - gloss-architecture and its awkward theoretical background.
- Architecture - Movement - Mind (Retrospective on the parameters with which we have to live today).
b) Synthetic approach:
- Elements of a new theory of design: Man, functionally an adaptive being (the urban escape into tourism and weekend-architecture);
- Man is not a machine (Russian roulette with functionalism);
- The attic nostalgy (are there architectural archetypes in our brains?);
- The bed and the car (the bed as a car, the car as a bed);
- On non-homogeneous human space concepts (night- space and day-space, many spaces, few permanent types);
- Rest and movement (two contradictionary elements of dwelling);
- An apartment with 100 doors? (on the cave character of dwelling);
- The niche and the open room (contradiction composed to form an unity);
- our house has wings (the semipermeability of the door);
- Openings as signs and symbols (doors, windows and other elements as 'house in the house');
- The hierarchical system of thresholds (within the frame of an architectural orientation system);
- Front and back of a building (what is a facade?, the back-yards of New York);
- Optical stability and its psychological impacts (back to composition?);
- Shall I burn my house? Or: What happens when I die? (architecture and death, ethnology and modern).
7. IMPLICATIONS FOR ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN III
- The modern architect as designer and builder of social and psychological problems (are modern social problems related to architecture?);
- The shrinking role of the architect (filling gaps in the urban conveyor-bands)
- Do you speak architecture? (architecture as a global meta-language and its implications);
- How can an architect avoid to build prisons? (the modern example of Claude Schelling's Furttal habitat);
- Anthrop-Arch (towards a globally human concept of architectural design);
- Pushing the button - the plans for the new house are printed out: Outlines of a futuristic CAD program
8. CONCLUDING SEMINAR: DISCUSSIONS OF THE RESULTS
The concluding seminar will be organised in the form of a round table. The results of the compact course will be discussed on various levels (feasibility for architecture and urbanism in general, practicability in certain special regions, potential for an individual professional outlook in regard to practical design and research).
EXERCISES IN THE AFTERNOONS (for architectural students)
In the afternoons three to four short sketchy design problems are planned. The programs are composed in such a manner that they suggest the use of the principles spoken of during the morning lectures. Essentially of an imaginary nature or based on cross-cultural conditions they should be considered as the concrete output of the teaching program. If the students enjoy these projects and later will line them out more carefully, they might be used for a publication.
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