Getting dressed is not to dress up

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It is a prevailing point of view that there is an arbitrary and thus meaningless relationship between construction and decoration in architecture. Tectonics proposal how to ensure the desired non-arbitrariness is to make decoration a rule-following result of construction. Here is argued that we should seek non-arbitrariness elsewhere. We do not experience architecture as a decorative exterior, which is a sign of some interior that does not immediately show itself. It only seems thus given a certain picture of our relationship with what we are dealing with. We are in fact experiencing architecture as part of a life-practice that carry our makings which meets us as something through which we develop the receptivity by which this life-practice itself is carried. The non-arbitrariness of the architecture as it exists in projects derives from architecture itself understood as an aspect of a life-practice. This corresponds to what we know about another aspect, the spoken language, where it is not written in the stars how it should be spoken and where users are not, for that reason, in doubt about the correct and incorrect use of their language. Here, firstly, tectonics ’functionalization’ of the relationship between decoration and construction is determined as a consequence of a certain picture of what knowledge is. The picture shows the subject of knowledge as separate from, standing in an outer, arbitrary relationship with the object of knowledge in order to be in agreement with the insight that we not just by being acquainted with an assertion do know whether it is true or false. Our relationship with the outside world is contingent and only models and theories that allows for verification can help us find out what is the case. Next, this approach to tectonics will be challenged by FL Wrights Ennis House, where an architectural part occurs that is ’strangely’ called a loggia. What for a scientific consideration may seem to be a mistake is entirely intended as Wright with the designation will show that the project has a member that like a classic loggia is neither inside nor outside; it’s an outside in the building. The columns on a row that help form the loggia do not get their meaning, their non-arbitrariness from how their decoration follows from their construction: they are dressed for the task that gives them their meaning, non-arbitrariness, namely to figure in a narrative, a parable where they, by virtue of being understood as not being inside, are part of the terracing of the surrounding hillside, and they must therefore be perceived as belonging to that part of the building that is a preparation of the landscape, and therefore in a sense something external in relation to the building imagined as an object. Wright’s loggia is a parable that, with the building, will make us susceptible to the built reality as part of a life-practice; a life-practice where no landscape is built on, but where the landscape itself – America – is built as a space of bodily, inhabiting presence. Finally, it is asked where this leaves the tectonics. The classic tectonics thinks in terms of the human body in space. A column is said to express the bear in analogy with how the raised, stretched human body performs when a load is held up in stretched arms. Can tectonics think in terms of the human body’s embedding in a landscape? Can the body be thought of in terms of an analogy with niches in a landscape-like field instead of thinking it in terms of a body in space and thus in terms of an object in relation to a container? Such a starting point will bring tectonics in connection with thoughts about bodily presence in attitude-dependent atmospheric spaces. And it will bring tectonics into a context of a concept of knowledge other than that concept of a third party verifiable knowledge of this of that – a concept we associate with textbook-like knowledge – that the classical tectonics have taken for granted. A concept of knowledge as a ’first person’s concern’ can impart the second tectonics with the character of being a form of treatment against a thoughtless extrapolation of the ’scientific’ way of thinking that defines our age. And being that as part of a life-practice understood as a formation in ’nature’ that brings itself into being.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event"Firmitas/aedificatio"–die materiellen "körperlichen" Grundlagen der (gebauten) Architektur: Achtes architekturtheoretisches Kolloquium der Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin - Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, Einsiedeln, Switzerland
Duration: 25 Apr 201928 Apr 2019


Conference"Firmitas/aedificatio"–die materiellen "körperlichen" Grundlagen der (gebauten) Architektur
LocationStiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin
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  • tectonics
  • architectural philosophy

Artistic research

  • No

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