Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A New Architecture Blog...

...THE SACRED LANDSCAPE, by Catholic architect Steven Schloeder, PhD, AIA, can be found at He writes:
I soon discovered that while everyone talked about "architecture", no one was really ready to talk about what it really was.  Now if one were to ask a professor of biology what it was that he studied, he might well reply "the study of living organisms", and if asked of an economics professor she might tell you that "economics concerns the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services", or "how people work within markets to get what they want given the problems of scarcity and competition", or even "how money works".  Yet in asking my architecture professors "what is architecture", I would get the most opaque and pretentious answers:

Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. 
 Architecture is frozen music.
The reality of the tea cup is the space within.
Architecture is the art of doing the common uncommonly well.
Architecture is a matter of taste, and our job is to tell you what you should like. 
Architecture is commodity, firmness and delight -- (this last definition seemed more applicable to the young ladies in whom I was interested than to what I was designing).  

In short, none of them could give a reasonable working definition of architecture, and yet were mercilessly dogmatic in our juried crits as to whether the student achieved ARCHITECTURE or not. It was entirely subjective as best as I could make out: Architecture depended on the caprice of the professor. Platitudes were thrown about; definitive judgments made without recourse to any defined standards; the architect was supposed to be some sort of prophet and priest telling others how to live, shaping buildings and whole cities that would shaped peoples' lives for better or for worse, yet with no fixed goals. The study of architectural history concerned what the buildings looked like, what were the defining features of the historical style, but never the 'why were they designed thus and so' question.  There were no objective standards for evaluation (apart from the purely technical and vital aspects of structural stability and how the building responded climatically), no reflection on what it means to be a human being, what it means to live in society, what it means to order raw nature for human habitation, the question of beauty, and how architecture addresses the aspirations of humanity.
He just started the blog, but perhaps you can pay it a visit to encourage him?

No comments:

Post a Comment