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Architecture ideologies (part 2/2) - Approach and methodology

By Firmin Mees
25.06 1985
'De Comedie'
8800 Roeselare

Architecture would benefit if the attention that nowdays is spent on architecture picture books would move to the study of evolution and revolution in the architectural thinking and if the architectural feeling would be embossed.

- Structuralism: Habraken, Rossi …
- Architecture ideologies of second order: architecture as a carrier of meanings: Venturi, Schultz
- Architectuurideologieën of third order: Forrier, Morris, Wright, Tafuri, Weber
- Architectuurideologieën fourth order
- A way out of the chaos

Ideology rather than formality

Until recently, and it may aforementioned symposium witnesses was studied architecture as a final product. Study of evolution in architecture was limited mainly to the study of the evolution of end products such as high-quality results from the artistic to an era. Architecture would only thrive on if the attention is now being spent on architecture picture books move to studies of evolution and revolution in architectural thinking and feeling architectural brought in relief. This knowledge would especially in the current architectural ideas chaos may shed some light.

The basic objective of this work is to identify and evaluate the ideas that have inspired designers and the images that they wanted to concretize the instigation of those ideas, rather than just another stylistic analysis of the buildings they have built.

By resourcing and reflection within their own ranks have architectural historians of the next generation the importance of architecture-ideological attitude as a driving force behind the design and construction process of buildings rediscovered. The realization grew that architecture and society are not independent phenomena occurring, but that clear correlations between the two can be distinguished.

Architecture philosophy, ideology, architecture, architectural ideas and -visies, are concepts that since some time in our literature unclear and are used interchangeably. They have given rise to significant mixing and meaning impoverishment. It is in essence not so obvious or they happen within the architectural, must define formulated reasoning as philosophical, ideological or idea. Where exactly should the boundaries between philosophy and ideology is still not a done deal and even for specialists is not always clear.
Among other meanings designates one of “philosophy” usually a general contemplative life and world view. With ‘ideology’ is normally referred to a system of ideas, beliefs and meanings to the behavior (in our case the architectural behavior) focus.

For these reasons, it is therefore guessed at in the context of this study beforehand to make it clear that henceforth the notion of ideology will be used here not in his becoming pejorative sense of partisan attachment, but specifically within the architectural field as a coherent set of ideas , values ​​and beliefs which direct the architectural design. Beliefs and values ​​are usually terms with collective support which ideology in this context must be understood as referring to a common approach for different designers regarding the architectural happen.

As part of the architectural approach of an individual designer to better the notion of ‘architectural concept’ are used, referring to an individual representation in form and content through the mind, and whether or not the subordination of some architectural ideology.

Two approaches

Althusser argued that is impracticable and then DOOR IN ideology, ie that every society, every geleefd.2 social reality is ideological Although the scope of his ideas are clearly politically inspired, his position could considering that architecture is an essential part of that social reality can also be introduced within the architectural happen. This brings us to the consideration can be made to approach architecture on ideological basis in various ways.

Sierksma shall, by his interpretation of the works of Althusser three, one is confronted with two approaches (two ‘ins’) in the analysis of artifacts (in particular works of art) namely:
- That of the work itself, assuming a particular relationship of the work to the ideology,
- Of which the perception of works by the non-analyzing audience.

In the first case, so it is the position of the ideological IN (aesthetic) work; in the second case concerns the ideological impact of the (aesthetic) work. Now if a particular architectural work exudes a certain architectural ideology, then the potential for recognition of this ideology on the one hand still dependent on the ‘consumer’ (as a spectator, user) and on the time of observation. They are the material practices of the consumer (s) that determine ‘what if’ they are understood and in what manner they are to what ideology verwijzen.5 It is clear that the prevailing ideology during the period of formation of a workpiece (they sculpture, literature or architecture), may differ from those in which the work (sometimes years later) is observed. All this means that one can not identify it found ideological references in the analysis of an artifact with the ideological effect that can assume.

Specifically, and in the context of this study, therefore I suppose de first benadering of architecture is to discover the architecture ideological starting point, and then using them to investigate whether or not (fully or partially) realized model. This method has the advantage that it allows to determine the extent architectural ideologies could (and can) be concretized, starting from pre-formulated ideological criteria. As the starting point preconceived ideological complexes are naturally born from a reality grown and refer to, or respond clearly to this reality. This approach has thus clearly vicious pull with the first approach of Althusser.

For de second benadering of architecture, I would start with a base other than those formulated by Althusser as an investigation into the ideological effect starting from the (aesthetic) work. This methodology is its shift away from political to purely architectural field substantively little bulky because they are only open to the semantic correlation between the (aesthetic) object and the ‘non-analytical audience.

In fact, the second approach would just have to use the reverse method of the first approach. This means that starting from an architectural outcome 6, an explanation is sought for the how and why of this design, thereby putting out a collection of emerging ideologies. Depending on the personal and philosophical (political) ideological positions of the person who is conducting the research, the explanation for the phenomenon will be different, with the direct effect and quoted several different explanations for the same architectural result.

For the cited reasons, and especially because it also allows the most objective reasoning structure will then be done in the further course of this study, relying on the first method of approach, and it clearly provided the ideology as a starting basis was formulated and could be traced.

Limitation in time

Now, the manner of approach to the subject was fixed, the question arises as to the scope of the subject matter. Statistical research shows that a very small percentage of them dating from before 1900. It has now become common practice that has undergone a radical change as a result of the industrial revolution, the distribution pattern of the population between 1800 and 1900 to the age of the surrounding buildings the cities grew so rapidly that went on to develop a state which had never before occurred.

Morphological and architectural canceration, as a result of this rapid growth and of great socio-cultural changes, suggested the upcoming 20th Century severe problems. Ideological and philosophical originated in the 19th century was completed in the 20th century as a theoretical basis and used as a basis for concrete achievements which were to form an answer to the raised problematic situations. New ideas fields were the reason and basis for new movements (including the Modern Movement as the best known and the most influential for the built environment as it now presents itself).

We will determine a further course which the architectural heritage that we present ‘populate’, largely ideological finds its roots in the second half of the 18th and the whole 19th century. This does not whatsoever that the 20th century would have made no contribution in the domain of ideation in and around architecture; on the contrary. But though certain ideas were already sown a few centuries before our era, and then in the Renaissance, yet most of them came to life and overall development during and after the Enlightenment. Although this work is in principle not subject to an historical start date nor a date, still focuses its content mainly on the developments of the last three centuries.

The social image

How important architecture also may be as a society-related phenomenon, yet it does not play a central role in our society. Thinking within the architectural discipline, however it is in the context of this study to suggest using architecture as a central starting point in front and surround her with various company-defining phenomena.

Every part facet of social events being determined, influenced, modified, … by any of the other facets. If we circles there considered as abstract representations of thought fields or spheres of influence, then the architectural thinking area (as indeed the other areas or -facetten) a plastic range, constantly moving under the influence of the surrounding areas, which make up the social image.

Every facet portion (be it economy, politics, art, religion …) has its own dynamics and tension develops with elk of other facets. The representation, by means of shaded areas, on each of the tension (call it overlaps) in this schedule is not possible. This is – within this framework – not necessary. An ideal social image would thus lead to a strong balanced configurative representation, in which the tension of all social dynamics would prevent equal.

However, the social reality is, as we know completely different. Differences in power and momentum between the social dynamics among themselves, make the control of the nations increase greatly at the expense of others. The sub-areas grow or shrink in itself; their respective fields of tension follow this movement, and also grow or shrink. It is even possible that certain tensions (temporarily) completely disappear.
At a certain historical moment thus they come to the diagram above, the snapshot of the prevailing image of society. These diagrams depict the same time the great ideological different areas and their influence on architectural thinking within society overall picture. In turn, these ideologies bear fruit along which the architectural practice are reflected in the form of artifacts.

Consequently, we see that ‘society’ is composed of a combination of both a social gebeuren and the other a social neerslag. In other words, a coherent set of processen and artefacten. These processes are situated within existing artifacts and generate new artifacts. But conversely situate the artifacts within the processes and give rise to new processes. Was it Winston Churchill or anyone else see: “We shape our environment and the environment shapes us?

Well, the inseparable whole, formed by, on the one hand the general socio-cultural spatial pattern as instantaneous crystallization of such social processes, and on the other artefactieel morphological pattern, we call THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT. Such processes, however, be initiated by an individual or a group of individuals, as stated, and give rise to artifacts and / or new processes.

We can therefore say that every social event is a process that takes place between drie polen:
1. the individual
2. social group
3. the artifacts

These three poles are all physically observable in itself; their relationship patterns and the processes that trigger are not. The precipitation of these processes are again well sensory phenomena.

These poles are linguistic features names such as:
- Bernard, Els, the tourist, the prisoner … for one pole (the individual)
- The Socialists, the clergy, women, … for 2 pole (. Soc Group)
- Gent, the Marolles, the High Street, the church … for pool 3 (artifacts)

The sensory unobservable relationship patterns and processes against more abstract genommeerd, for example:
- Friendly, compassion, commitment, squeeze … between one and two
- Recognition, alienation, symbolism, between two and three …
- Cozy, quiet, anonymous, breathtaking … between 1 and 3

The interaction between people and artifacts along processes is essential characteristic of our social order, and thereby distinguishes itself from other communities. The nature and intensity of that activity is determined by ideologically charged human thought.

The ORDERS whether the substantive vastness of ideologies

The importance of the theoretical approach by means of a moment defined three poles becomes clear when one, for example, has noted that some authors have assumed, among other things on the assumption that once the social, moral and philosophical conditions a period sufficiently known (ie, sufficient understanding was obtained in pool 1 and pool 2, and their relationships), the architecture of that period is predictable. Artifacts (pool 3) are then determined, in this approach, at least as an aligned and consistent results from pool 1, pool 2 and the interrelationships between them.

Others are being told that artifacts created as formal materialization to satisfy the needs of the individual, spontaneous would lead to an adequate benefit pattern. Both examples should make it clear that the content of ideologies differ because of their intrinsic vastness. This expanse is precisely in close relation with the previously defined poles, or rather coincides with it.

So we distinguish ideologies whose contents focus exclusively on the field of the person who moves to the complex ideas. We think here of architects, urban planners, engineers, sociologists, psychologists, doctors … who, from their discipline, promote innovation and open perspectives within their own discipline. An ideology with these substantive vastness we define as ideologie the first orde.

The main ideologies of this order which will be discussed here, of course ideologies sprouted from brains of individuals (or groups) are closely connected with the architectural practice; especially architects, engineers, urban planners, designers … in general. The ideologies of eerste orde have therefore (in this context) relates exclusively to the artifacts morphological pattern.

The ideologies which also ‘man’ as an individual, his development and his physical and mental balance (his fortune) engage in their wealth of ideas, we call the ideologies of tweede orde. They relate to the artefactieel morphological pattern and the individual, as entities, and the relationships that bind them to each other.

The most complete ideology is the ideology of the derde orde. It includes substantive totality of three poles and their mutual control mechanisms. This ideological form generates ideas and visions related to “the built environment”, as it was previously defined as a coherent set of artefactieel morphological and socio-cultural spatial patterns.

The ideology of the vierde orde finally would be irrelevant to consider within the context of this work. She refers in terms of intrinsic vastness to the individual and the group, but especially to the social group in its composition and its internal control mechanisms as a basis for a different form of society. The importance of this ideology lies mainly in its relativistic character compared to architecture within society.

To achieve a clear overview of the next schedule previously defined ideologies on their intrinsic vastness was drafted as visualization thereof.

  • Features of the orders *
    Analytical thinking is often at the root of any positive knowledge. However, its synthesis and continuity is very important, if not essential in each study. But analysis does break down, sometimes cataloging, and has the pernicious consequence of processes and phenomena are temporarily frozen to a thing to admit attentive observation. This isolation principle may lead to loss of global insight, but other hand, allows phenomena with equal depth next to each other, compare and relate (sometimes into perspective).

Breaking down the ideas happen within the architectural in orders, as has happened before, this danger and these opportunities also contributes inherently entails. The thus defined allow orders, in my judgment at least, distinction and therefore allow the analysis of ideologies on the basis of equal depth. They are, however, as will be clear substantive differences within the same order (same depth) does not get in the way.

Ideas and ideologies now have the peculiar property that they are hardly datable as historical events (natural disasters, exhibitions …). They do not arise as with thunder, but usually grow in response to an expressed dissatisfaction about an existing situation or evolution. They never disappear, while their main characteristic is their topicality. It is easy to determine how healthy ideologies wholly or partly by the passage of time back affirm their topicality in social situations favorable to do so.

Several masters on the international architecture scene do not shine by the originality of their ideas, but precisely because of their originality in combining different ideas, mostly formulated by others before. This original combination has the potential to then grow into an ideological force field? Thus we approach very close to the content that the French philosopher Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836) attached to the term ‘ideology’ and which he declared from 1801 as the “study of the origin of ideas and their expression in language and their combination within the mind. “

Historical data now learn that in addition to several very important concepts of the 20th century, many ideas formulated combinations in our century recognize their breeding grounds deep in the 19th century and even before. Hence it is essential to locate these points of ideological crystallization of the past centuries in their context, in order to evaluate the combination happen under the influence of internal and external forces.

But besides the dangers of analysis (sometimes leading like Ch. Jencks to catalogs as an end in itself) and next to the vagueness that often exists around the emergence and growth of ideas, the use of the aforementioned orders raises another considerable difficulty. This difficulty has to do with the exact suitability of the ideology formulated in the order system. Largely this is due to the vague formulation of mostly secondary statements from those who have a certain complex ideas put forward. Therefore the ideology at first sight is not very clear in one of the orders to place more because often vague, unclear relationships are established with ideologies of higher order.

We consider by way of illustration and as an illustration of the above, the principles of the German architect Bruno Taut as he formulated in the Neue Baukunst “in 1929. He comes to the conclusion that there once buildings are conceived in a purely practical way and built, this inherently would give rise to new, own aesthetic laws. So far, his position clear of 1st order. But then he adds that the architect that thinks and acts in this way, can continue as the creator of an ethical and social character. “ Moreover, the people who would use the building for any purpose, prompted by the structure of the building is a better behavior with respect to their actions and relationships among themselves. Thus architecture becomes the generator of new social use, he says, a key agent in the renewal of society.

This is clearly a statement of 3rd order content. But these sentences remain sloganesque statements of secondary importance in the ideology of Taut. While he gives very specific and concrete indications regarding the new architecture, he remains very vague about its social role and he conceals integral how, when, by what means and to what extent architecture that central agent can be a complete renewal within society should achieve this.

From this it can be seen that an ideology, first in terms of 3rd order, provided essentially only clear indications of 1st order. This also means that extremely caution when evaluating an ideology to a certain order.