The following text is a report on a lecture delivered on 'Architectural Anthropology' in January 1995 at the 'Indhira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts', New Delhi, India. The report was published in 'Vihangama', the IGNCA Newsletter vol. II No. 4 (January-March 1995)
Prof. Nold Egenter, architect ETH, ethnologist and anthropologist, is Director of the Documentation Office for Fundamental Studies in Building Theory, Switzerland. He is mainly concerned with interdisciplinary research in architectural anthropology.

The presentation outlines and contrasts two professional outlooks on architecture, the view and social role of the modern architect (post-medieval myth of creation) and the outlook of the architectural anthropologist (four classes of architecture): subhuman [nestbuilding of higher apes], semantic [fetishes and life trees], domestic [vernacular dwelling], sedentary [evolution of human settlement]. The modern architect uses the homogeneous continuum provided by modern physics. Based on research done on hitherto unknown type of buildings widespread in prehistorical and traditional societies, socalled "Semantic architecture" the anthropologist reconstructs an entirely different concept of space which is not empty, but closely related to substance and form. This "complementary space", or "harmonious space" unites categorically opposed substantial domains with contrasting units (coincidentia oppositorum). It is then indicated that the destruction of this pre-modern type of space by modernism is at the basis of the modern urban loss of orientation. Evidently, this space concept was, and still is, the basic part of a cognitive system which is contradictive to analytical science, but lives as a fullfledged cognition, or ontology, at its side (in art, in social relations, pre/non-rational philosophy). This "complementary" cognitive system allows us to understand not only art and social relations in new ways, but shows us the "insular" character of analytical science. It defends itself by terms like 'irrational', 'pre-logic', 'mystical', etc. against this other system, which it cannot integrate, because it is basically and, by definition, absolutely antithetic (1=2). If we realize these two cognitive systems as equivalents, we not only contribute to a better understanding of the role of architecture (and art) for man, we might also contribute to a human balance between the analytical sciences and art.

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