UD 514 Spring’08 IYTE
3rd Week Summary Submission
Sources of Architectural Form
In this article examine the theories of design within boader context of the history of Western philosophy since theoriests inherited from their culture, attitude and methods. Many theorists worked out variations on five basic idea ranging from the idea that forms are generated within the creative imagination to the idea that they derive from function and climate. These provide the conceptual foundations for most of the historical theories.
“An architectural form is shaped by its intended function”; according to this view, the form of a good building is shaped by the various physical, social, psychological and symbolic functions it it expected to perform. For instance ideal shape of a concert hall should be generated by setting uninterrupted sight lines for every spectator; the shape and location of the entries should be determined by the flow of people to and from their seats; and outside appearence should be shaped by the symbolic role of a concert hall. According to this view, designer must be like a scientist finding some form in a body of pre-existing facts. Besides, if designing building involved nothing more than functions, one would expect no evidence of architect’s personality. Designer in this view avoids, preconceptions, gathering, analysing and synthesizing.
“Architectural form is generated within the creative imagination”; all proponents of this theory agree that inner source is somehow dependent on individual personality of designer and some of designers have a greater gift for employing this source than others. But this theory can not give reasonable explainations for why one hardly find considerable variations in the collected works of society in the same period as well as several generations. While classifying buildings of Renaissance, Gothic or Post-modern show that architects working at the same time tend to use shared ideas, but this theory on its own can not explain how these shared ideas influence individual minds.
“ Architectural form is shaped by the prevailing spirit of the age”; according to this view, no matter how much an individual designer might think he is following personal creative urges, his work will unconsciously respond to the world-view, the source of his design ideas is to be found ‘in the air’ around him. There are several spirits from which a designer must choose, but this freedom of choice contradicts the basic premise of the entire theory.
“Architectural form is determined by the prevailing social and economic conditions”; this theory assets like spirit of age thoery, an architect unconsciously acquire that society’s underlying ideological assumptions. But through centuries it is almost impossible to find one-to-one correlation between socio-economic system and the building form. This theory is insufficent to explain the different form of buildings in the same society.
“Architectural form derives from timeless principles of form that transcend particular designers, cultures and climates”; contrast to other theories above, this suggests that certain universal forms underlie all good architecture, no matter what the particular circumstances of the design problem, designer or culture. While one version of this theory says that ‘there are certain forms like the basilica, the courtyard or the atrium’, another says that ‘this theory looks not to whole forms, but to general principals of form which are more abstract and universal’. But this theory does not explain how they came to be so different given the same starting point. Furthermore how types like skyscrapers or multi storeys first invented. Clearly architects adapt old types for new purposes, but this theory can not explain why.
None of these western theories can not give complete or convincing account of the source of design ideas. Whether consciously or not, many designers today recognize the inadequacies of any single theory, and tend to use two or more. But this juxtaposing does not make a coherent theory. This paradox derives from a conceptual problem built deeply into Western culture’s most fundamental assumptions about the individual and his relationship to the world as the subject-object problem. On the one hand, the individual can be thought of as a physical object in the nature whose actions and behaviour are completely determined, like all other physical objects, but on the other hand individual can just as easily be thought of a s a freely thinking, acting and creative whose actions and behaviour are completely determined by his or her own inner desires free from externalities. From the designer’s personal perspective, one looks like an artist process of inventing new information and giving it to the outside world, while the other looks like a scientific process of taking in existing outside information. Theorists thorughout history have articulated variations on six archetypal interpretations of the individual’s relationship the outside world; theories of creation and theories of knowledge;
Romantism(creation)/Idalism(knowledge); Form is to be find in the inner intuitions of the individual designer. Importance of individual ability.
Positivism(creation)/Empricism(knowledge); Form is merely discovered by designer which is already prefigured by external determinants.
Classicism(creation)/Rationalism(knowledge); Form is to be found outside the mind of designer, as an objective property of the external world. This group is more aware than the other two that necessary balance between mind and world.