EXTENSION OF ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH


The scheme of this page shows the extension of architectural research suggested by architectural anthropology:


Note that the "low" architecture excluded by the evaluating art historian becomes fully integrated at the right of the arrow!

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NEW APPROACHES


A wide range of thematical and methodological new approaches are possible in three of the four classes suggested by the new definition of architecture.

COMPOSITE CHARACTER OF HOUSE FORM

Domestic architecture now clearly shows its composite character ("buildings in the building"). The roof of any house can be taken as a relatively independent evolution, its present form and meaning being strongly conditioned by this evolution. The fire too can be considered a very primordial type of 'building' which has its evolution independent of any hut or house type. Thus the open hearth is doubtless a primary form of integrating the fire into the house. Its often rich symbolic meanings are related to the primary function of fire as an early type of semantic and symbolic building. In many cultures, primitive or high, entrance gates or doors can still be read as relatively independent buildings marking the transition from open to closed, from public to private etc.. On the other hand mobile elements in the building like furnitures (closet, bed) show clearly that they too are conceived as 'buildings in the building'. The great manifold of house forms in various cultures can be explained as an evolution and integration of semantic architecture into domestic architecture.

AMOS RAPOPORT

This is one of the main critical points of Amos Rapoport's book 'Built Form and Culture'. Rapoport describes "house-form" as a unit, which varies under three (essentially external) factors: climate, material and constructive conditions, socio-cultural factors). The relation of built form to culture remains in its vaguely defined circle of internal and external factors. Its enormous diversity is not understood. In contrast to this, architectural anthropology provides plausible arguments for house formations. Its essential points, its place and gate-markers define space and house form according to a vanished infrastructure: territorial demarcation. (s. Egenter, Japanese house, house of the Ainu)

SACRED TOPOGRAPHY

Semantic architecture makes us aware of its strong relations with 'territory', 'environment' and 'landscape form'. L. P. Vidyarthi (The tribal Culture of India, 1976) used the term 'sacred geography' to describe the nuclear demarcations of the Indian tribal population. Modifying the meaning of the term "sacred" in the objective sense of 'highest values of a local ontology' we can objectively document the 'sacred topography' of a settlement. This then provides us with reliable data regarding how the local population interpretes its own spatial environment.

ARCHITECTURAL PRIMATOLOGY

Architectural Primatology too might bring us new ideas. It might reconstruct the subhuman conditions of 'homo constructor' und 'homo habitans'. Note the striking continutity between the great apes' daily life-structure and man. Both move during the day within a larger vaguely structured domain and spend their night lying at rest in a particular place defined by a manipulated artefact, the nest or the bed.


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NEW RESEARCH INTO ARCHITECTURE


Semantic Architecture is a very particular class. It presents buildings which function as signs in the landscape, as territorial markers. Further, semantic architecture is an essential part of sacred rites and thus falls thematically into the domain of religion. Finally, these buildings show a local tradition of beauty which brings us into the domains of the history of art, and certainly also, into the domains of philosophy.

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NEW RESEARCH INTO CULTURE


The following scheme lists some hypotheses and corresponding explanations.

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ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH AND CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY


Since architectural anthropology propagates a quite different method than conventional cultural anthropology, it must define its methodological standpoint against conventional anthropology.

The most important position is the critique of the term culture and the conventional outlook it produces:

IT APRIORI CUTS

THE COMPLEX TOTALITY OF A CULTURAL SITUATION

INTO DEFINED "DISCIPLINES" AND "SUBDISCIPLINES"
and then

INTEGRATES THESE SECTIONS
(e.g. of any non European culture)

INTO THE EUROCENTRIC INTERPRETATION,

WHICH MAY BE ENTIRELY ERRONEOUS
(e.g. if the cognitive system of a society is relational)

The scheme on the follwing page lists some of the scientific handicaps of the term culture.

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CULTURE CRITICALLY

- Problematic aspects of the term culture -


The term culture is a very wide container of various concepts. It is:

MULTI EXTENSIVE

EVALUATING
E.g. 'high' religion and 'primitive' religion

DISCIPLINARY COMPOSED
(thus dissecting when used)

Its elements are
SPATIALLY OR GEOGRAPHICALLY OVERLAPPING
in regard to different components
(language, art, religion, thought, traditions, etc.)

Cultural elements are
EUROCENTRIC
(religion, art, social structure)

Culture in its scientific outlook
is basically differentiating, it thus is
APRIORI FOCUSSED ON DIFFERENCES
(not on similarities or identities)

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