ARCHITECTURE IS STILL STRUCTURED LIKE A MYTH
ARCHITECTURE AS POST-MEDIEVAL MYTH OF THE PROFANISED CREATOR-GENIUS
Due to this domination of architecture and urbanism by the art historian's deductive aesthetics, which can be used at will, architecture and urbanism - essential for anyone's daily life, still function like a post-medieval myth.
In this analogy the art historian 'evaluates' the creation, distinguishing 'high' values and 'low' values and explains the merits to the the laics, at the same time proselitysing them to live a life with 'beautiful form'.
- Architecture has escaped science because it preserved a post.medieval autocratic system similar to religion
- God the Creator - Creation - Clerus (who mediates divine values to laics). This corresponds to:
- Architect-genius - architectural Creation - art historian and critic.
Note that in this analogy the architect-genius is considered somehow 'omniscient', expressing his own ideas of the world in his own creations of styles and forms (in the same context, he is also not responsible for his 'creations': like God!)
To be fair: there is a trend at certain architectural schools (e. g. in Scandinavia, see Dunin-Woyseth 1996) to introduce elements of scientific academism into the curriculum of architectural education. Unfortunately, in such reports like the one mentioned, the proposals remain in a rather narrow circle drawn by art historians around architecture. The real potential of architectural research is not perceived. But still, welcoming science as a method into ones's own house is already a great progress in architecture.
- Thus, architects are not trained to acquire academic capacities in science.
- They are mainly taught 'drawing', 'designing', 'creating'.
- Some facts: out of 40 research projects financed annually by the Architectural Department of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (ETH-L) only 2 to 3 are published for an international public. The main reason: more than 90% do not reach the international academic standards.
- Architectural Schools: often a lucrative niche for third class carrierists?
ARCHITECTURE, A VERY TENACIOUS MYTH: THE IMPERIALIST INGREDIENT IN THE ARCHITECT'S ROLE IN SOCIETY
Why is this myth of the "divine creator genious" so tenaciously dogged and durable, surviving very different politicial systems from Renaissance times until today?
Evidently this 'imperialistic' trait of the architect's role in society has to do with the coincidence of the historical definition of architecture as the 'art of building' (Baukunst; pyramids, temples, cathedrals and palaces) and the fact that monumentality played an important role in early empires. And, naturally these 'monuments' provide ample proof of their high cultural level.
- The qualitatively vertical structure of architecture (highest/ lowest) pairs with political verticality: highest power requests qualitatively (and quantitatively!) highest architecture for its representational functions.
- Note: this formula is trans-stylilstic, "trans-zeitgeistig" and trans-cultural.
- Whatever colour, political powers always needed and need the most glorious architect-creator-genius to create their own 'new world'.
- In other words: there is something like an 'imperialistic' trend immanent in architecture, in all its different 'styles'.
But, the forms of these temples and cathedrals tells us something quite different. Anthropologically, this 'imperialistic trait' of the architect has its origins in predynastic and prehistorical village cultures where it was not yet so glorious. A modern architect would consider it a kind of 'folklore' (-> settlement core complex):
This intersection between "low" ephemeral materiality and "high" monumental materiality on one hand and high environmental values, e. g. how they are filtered through script, or how they expand with increasing empires and their extended perception and organisation of space is one of the most fascinating processes within the domain of Euro-Mediterranean cultures.
- the 'architect', at the same time a kind of village king, high priest and local ruler was essentially a farmer, who built very simple buildings,
- but he was a farmer who built buildings that were sacred, buildings that were considered to be 'gods' (-> semantic architecture, -> 'settlement core complex')
SPIRO KOSTOF'S EGYPTIAN ARCHITECT
In the first chapter of his rather tendentious book "The Architect" (1977), which he edited, Spiro Kostof maintains that not only in Classical Greece, but already in Ancient Egypt, the architect had a very dominant role in society.
Critical question: Particularly in Ancient Egypt, this role cannot have been as heroic as Kostof paints it. Architects functioned rather as what we call engineers today.
- Note, that the book was written during the 'architectural crisis'. And, in fact, there is a tendency to stretch sources towards the basic goal of Kostof's text: to encourage students of architecture by painting a heroic image of the architects role in antiquity.
Spiro Kostof's "architect as a design innovator" is thus a modern retroprojection on Ancient Egypt.
- There was no design-innovation. A fixed - and widely 'primitive' tradition was of highest values. These 'primitive' forms had to be translated into monumentality, into durable stone-technology!
- Note that the innermost sanctuary of the Egyptian temple was a reed-hut transsubstantiated into stone.
- Further, the prototypes of the much admired columns of Egyptian temples were made with plants by binding them to form bundles (Egenter 1995). Later, these prototypes were transformed into stone. As such, they evidently were tributes of subdued districts and villages to the states' ontologically highest 'access-place-scheme' and constitutional state-archive (or, what the history of religions called: temple).
- Nothing to 'innovate' for an architectural designer! Forms and values are strictly given!
The concept of the architect as a "creator of the ever new" is a much later thing. It was created as a myth during Renaissance (-> The postmedieval myth of the profanised world creator genius).
But the 'imperialistic' structure of the architect's role, which Kostof in fact describes in Ancient Egyptian culture, is a product of its predynastic past. In predynastic districts and villages, architecture included technologically primitive structures of highest ontological values, or what the history of religion calls 'Deities' or 'Gods'. (See Kees 1956; -> Ishtar-sign; Djed; predynastic cult-boats; -> 'Semantic architecture'; -> Critical review of Spiro Kostof's 'glorious architect' of Ancient Egypt)
What really counted in Egyptian temple architecture was 'monumentality'. Perennially renewed fibroconstructive signs and symbols of predynastic cults had to be trans-substantiated into something entirely new: durability (eternity) of architectural form. But this was essentially an engineering question, not one of "design" in the sense of the modern architect. The same is valid for the plan: this was cleary defined by the cult and its ontological value system (-> value focussed axis).
- Problems in architecture thus can not simply be covered up by writing books about the heroic architect in ancient Egypt.
- Strange: in the natural sciences problems are cherished daily bread. In architecture they are a horror vision.
20 PROBLEMS (continued)
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