What inspires us when we see art? What makes something visually appealing? How does a viewer perceive an object’s significance? I’ve been trying to discover the components of how we view art, and how that translates into how we feel about architecture. With mounting client pressures and professional standards that focus architectural designs on pragmatic issues – such as program, building codes, the environment, circulation, economic values – how does an architect defend the need for beauty and pleasure, and is that an important defense?
The Architect’s Brain, by Harry Francis Mallgrave, is primarily concerned with explaining the process by which we humans categorize our spatial environment, and how neurological wiring leads us to interpret our surroundings mostly through metaphor (rather than literal).
In my search for precedent publications that discuss how to utilize diagramming in architecture, a professor friend of mine suggested I read Diagramming the Big Idea: Methods for Architectural Composition (2013), by Jeffrey Balmer and Michael T. Swisher, professors at UNC Charlotte. I was cautioned that the book was written primarily for first-year architecture students: less theoretical and more about basic implementation. The book presents a clear pedagogy for what architecture students should learn about a certain type of diagramming and how to implement the techniques.
Richard Neutra’s seminal publication on designing for human comfort, Survival Through Design, was first published in 1954. His observations are surprisingly applicable and rarely seem dated, considering the lapse of 60+ years. It is surprising though, how little work has been accomplished since the first publication, on studying how to create architecture more responsive to the human condition and neurological processing.
Niche Tactics – Architectural Design via Analogies of how Organisms Communicate with Their Surroundings
In my search for uncovering the nature of the relationship between a building and its context, I discovered a book that came out in 2015, Niche Tactics, written by the Director of the Cornell University Master of Architecture Program, Caroline O’Donnell. She presents an analysis of architectural design via analogies of how organisms communicate, share, and respond to their surroundings.
There are underlying subject matters that recur throughout the book, so I’m synthesizing her chapters into broader categories.
“. . . these seemingly ancient viewpoints come from an unadulterated moment of theory, when simple modernist thoughts had become tired, and utopian visions were proven unrealizable. I don’t know that 40 years later we are dealing with a much different situation. . .”Read More
“. . .A book titled Reckoning with Colin Rowe, edited by Emmanuel Petit, just published this year. Here, an architectural elite – Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, and colleagues of Rowe from his Texas Ranger days and later – reflect on Rowe’s influence in their own careers and theories, and his influence on architectural discourse in general. In the introductory Chapter Petit proposes the intellectual framework for why an update to Rowe’s legacy is necessary. . .”Read More
I have been passionately reading theorist Nikos Salingaros’ books recently, A Theory of Architecture, and Unified Architectural Theory: Form, Language, Complexity. The latter title, published just last year, reinforces much of the theory behind my recent research in Diagramism, the ability for a project’s characteristics and constraints to actually form the geometry of the design. Read More