A foundation for all of architecture

We have suffered, in the last hundred years especially, because the old roots of architecture — its sound pre-intellectual traditions — have largely disappeared, and because the lawless, arbitrary efforts to define a new architecture — a modern architecture — have been, so far, almost entirely without a coherent basis.

I am proposing a new basis, a platform which gives architecture new content and meaning. The most important thing about this platform I have presented is that it is based on what most people experience as true or real — it is rooted in observation. This empirical and factual nature makes it possible, in principle, for us to achieve agreement.

The confusion of the last hundred years in architecture has arisen, largely, because of the lack of a coherent basis which is rooted in common sense, in observation, and which is congruent with human feeling. The confusion has existed mainly because of disagreements about what should be done, what is worthwhile, what is it that we should aim for. These disagreements have not, on the whole, been pursued by experiment, or logical reasoning. The positions — modernism, postmodernism, organic architecture, the architecture of the poor, architecture of high technology, critical regionalism — the different positions — have been discussed much as one might discuss the latest clothing fashions. The absence of reasoned discourse has created, in the world, an architecture ruled by money and power and images.

All this has come about because, in the intellectual atmosphere of pluralism, celebrated in the 20th century, it has been easy to say what one believes, but nearly impossible to say what is good or true. Indeed, avoiding, at all costs, serious discussion of what is good has been the reason for the crumbling failure of the past century’s architecture.

But it is exactly that question which cannot be avoided. A criterion for judgement is the core — the necessary core — of any architecture. A core of judgement cannot be created by shouting that one is right. Instead, a core of judgement must be found which appeals to the deepest instincts in everyone, so that we can say to ourselves, Yes, this is indeed the basis from which we ought to proceed, and therefore the basis from which we must proceed.

My argument is simply this: the existence of wholeness is something real in the world, whether we choose to see it or pay attention to it, or not. It is a mathematical structure which exists in space. I believe that a holistic view of space — which shows how structure appears in space as a whole, as a result of local symmetries and centers — follows from careful observation of what exists.

I believe that what we call life in architecture and the built environment springs from this wholeness. Because space is of such a nature that symmetries and centers can arise in it, it follows that centers can help each other to become more and more alive. And it follows from that, that progressively more and more profound structures can exist in space. These are the structures we recognize in the great heritage of human art. It is highly significant that the same structures and the same structural scheme arise in nature. The structures we observe in nature also arise from the wholeness, and their life, too, comes from the root cooperation of centers, providing the foundation for the architecture I propose.

#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/Conclusion#

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