THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION
ARCHITECTURE BREAKS UP THE NARROW HORIZONS OF THE HISTORY OF ART AND ITS PLATONICALLY DEDUCTIVE (THUS SUBJECTIVE) EVALUATION SYSTEM AND INTRODUCES INDUCTIVE METHODS OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: E.G. 'ARCHITECTURAL ETHNOLOGY', OR 'ARCHITECTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY'
ARCHITECTURE STARTED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Amos Rapoports book 'House Form and Culture' (1969) has triggered world-wide research into 'Architectural Ethnology' and 'Architectural Anthropology'
NOTE ONCE MORE: WORLDWIDE, THERE ARE ABOUT 3 - 4000 RESEARCHERS OF VARIOUS DISCIPLINES INVOLVED WITH "TRADITIONAL DWELLINGS AND SETTLEMENTS RESEARCH" (-> IASTE, Berkeley)
- Today there are about 3 - 4000 researchers worldwide from various disciplines engaged in reseach. The centre of this movement is the 'Architectural Departement' of the University of California at Berkeley with its biannual International conferences and its very valuable publications (-> Important Adresses, Bibliography, Conferences)
- But this whole movement of architectural research does not show duly in architectural magazines!
- There is practically no echo of these research activities in architectural and urbanistic journals.
- Editors widely consider anthropological or ethnological research into architecture as a kind of useless folklore study! (They are fixed on the -> post-medieval creator-genius-myth!)
The architect and the art historian still stand in the wholy spaces of their divine art-cathedral and cannot understand, that, outside, some other peoples using a slightly different language and quite different objects of study, also start to discuss about 'architecture', BUT IN SCIENTIFIC WAYS!
- The history of science is full of such perceptional conflicts (As part of creation, man was untouchable in the Middle Ages. Early anatomists - to whom we owe the development of medecine - had to hide their work in cellars).
Why should architecture and urbanism - with their designs more and more expanding into other cultures - not be able to do scientific research and learn from the habitat of age-old traditional societies?
- Very likely it is exactly this fixation on talking about architecture and urbanism in holy cathedrals of aestheticism which is at the roots of our cities running out of control!
And, maybe, there is a new value to discover: its highly accumulated degree of reliable experience.
- What they show is much more than something 'original' in the innovative sense,
- but something 'original' in the ontological sense.
SIX NEW FIELDS
Six new fields related to architectural research may be distinguished:
In the following we shortly outline these six domains.
- 1) Extra-European history of architecture
- 2) The ethnology of architecture
- 3) The anthropology of architecture
- 4) Habitat research and habitat theory of culture
- 5) Anthrop Art (new theory of art)
- 6)Anthrop-Arch (a new architectural design theory)
1) Extra-European architectural history
The Euro-Western history of art is still strongly focussed on its own cultural history, particularly in regard to architecture and urbanism. Publications on Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, or Meso-American 'high' architecture or urban structures are still relatively scarce.
A theory of art and architecture, insofar as it claims to be related to man in general, can only be valuable in a scientific way, if it theoretically includes the art and architecture of non-European 'high' cultures.
- These cultures are still widely considered as exotic and having no influence on our 'own cultural problems'
- This is incorrect insofar as many 'rationalistic' theories imply man in general in regard to their validity.
- Comparison of such claims with other cultures will very likely question such apriori assumptions fundamentally.
- Methods are widely Eurocentric, the concept of style is projected on non-European cultures. Most conventional studies are merely descriptive, deal with their own-coined stylistic labels.
- Genetic forces of documented styles are not questioned.
2) The ethnology of architecture
Architectural ethnology is a new and important field of architectural research (-> IASTE, Berkeley).
It breaks up the narrow horizon of conventional history of architecture, widens the view onto building and settlement traditions of non-European cultures such as (Egenter 1996):
First results of this world-wide research show clearly, that Western 'design-theory' is only a highly reduced section of the factual conditions related to dwelling and settlement.
- scriptless cultures of Asia, Australia, Africa, America.
- traditional agrarian societies of non-European High-cultures (China, India, Japan).
- "Folklore" traditions of Euro-Western high cultures
Comparing non-European ways of dwelling and settling with European types opens the horizons in regard to what 'dwelling' and 'settling' really means in human life. It can show e.g. to what extent the Euro-Western concepts are abstracted from human life.
- Our Euro-Western architects know very little about non-Western standards of dwelling and settling. They only know about dwelling in their own culture.
- This is problematic for what they build in their own culture because they do not know about the human impacts of their new 'creations' ( -> Pruitt-Igoe).
- And second it becomes more and more problematic as the Euro-Western standards of building and dwelling are projected on other, non-Euro-Western cultures.
With increasing research results, architectural ethnology will increasingly question the conventional 'architectural theories' of the architects. They will appear as narrowly focussed on Eurocentric architectural history.
On the long run, architectural ethnology will doubtless provide a scientific basis for new architectural theories which will show more reliability and continuity than the present ever changing plurality of 'styles'.
3) Architectural Anthropology
Architectural anthropology is a new systematic attempt
In this framework architectural anthropology includes all what is and has been built by man and his biological relatives, the higher apes (-> Architectural Anthropology, The origins of Architectural Research, Nestbuilding behaviour of the Higher Apes)
- to redefine in a broad anthropological perspective all phenomena related to man, spatial organisation of the environment and building behavior,
- and to develop new methods for the description and theoretical systematisation of these phenomena
- in order to allow scientific - that is objective and intersubjectively verifyable - statements about architecture and settlement.
It reconstructs the evolution of architecture with scientific research into essentially four domains or classes and related phenomena (see Egenter 1992):
- Thus, Architectural anthropology opens the definition of architecture
- beyond the narrow horizon of pyramids, temples, palaces, cathedrals etc.
- into a global and universal view of the relation 'man and built form',
With these classes architectural anthropology constructs a new continuum of architecture which includes elementary (fibro-) constructive behavior, evolution of spatial perception and organisation in close relation to the development of ideological values (aesthetics).
- subhuman architecture: nestbuilding of higher apes (Chimpanzees, Gorilla, Orangutan)
- semantic architecture: nondomestic buildings or buildings unrelated to the human body endowed with semantic, social, and ideological function, or, what the history of religion conventionally called 'fetish', 'idol' (ethnologically), 'life-tree', signs of deities' etc. (historically and prehistorically), and 'maypole' and the like (in folklore studies).
- domestic architecture: buildings which offer internal space for objects, plants, animals and humans.
- sedentary architecture: higher, horizontally structured units assembling several elements of semantic and/or domestic architecture.
In the framework of architectural design theory, architectural anthropology:
But, architectural anthropology is also an anthropology. It finds new data to construct a new full-fledged anthropology:
- definitely sets man into the centre of any theoretical concept.
- finds new theoretical criteria and data
- to develop humane design theories (-> Anthrop-Arch),
- and a theory of architecture and urbanism which is based on reliable scientific criteria.
- and thus may also contribute to an increasing 'intersubjectivity' of the architectural world.
These models were buildings (-> Semantic architecture).
- Like an architect, early man had 'models' to perceive and structure his environment,
- to conceive artefacts, and
- to organise socially.
- A new 'constructive' line of a systematically reconstructed 'prehistory' becomes visible
- Theoretically, architectural anthropology suggests a modifyed 'structural anthropology' (Lévy-Strauss) which is based on construction in the objective sense (lat. 'structura'). The parallel evolution of building and space perception develops 'structures' in the ideological sense which are today analytically classified into religion, art, economy, social structure etc.. (-> Bollnow, -> Habitat theory of culture).
The scientific Revolution of architecture (continued)
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