As many of you know, I have studied Architecture and I have worked for 10 years as a licensed Architect in the field of Architecture Restoration back at home, in Romania. At the end of my 5th year of Architecture study at the Polytechnic University in Romania, I released a paperwork that was not very well received by the Uni leaders. The paperwork talks about how and why the architecture produced by a Christian society is different than the architecture produced by an atheist society. I tried to be as politically correct as I could, but it still was extremely disappointing to my mentors and tutors, whom I dearly loved and cherished.
Anyway, I finally have managed to translate it in English – although it is extremely difficult to translate terms that are so particular to one field! I really hope the text makes sense… I would like to thank my friend Dave Green, who helped me with the translation. It was a very daunting task for both of us.
ON THE VARIATIONS OF ARCHITECTURE, BY MEANS OF CREATIONISM VS. NATURAL SELECTION
Paperwork Frame Topic:
A PERSONAL ANALISYS OF THE ARCHITECTURAL PROGRESS IN THE LAST CENTURIES; ON MODERNISM AND TECHNOLOGY, SPACE AND TEXTURES.
Final Paperwork – 5th year
Subject: Theory of Modern Architecture
During the last years of study, covering synthesis topics – such as the history of building materials technology, plastic expressivity and texture, historical architectural styles and building methods – we noticed a drastic change in the discipline of the philosophical perspective on housing, between the 1800s and the 1900s. The shift of the old paradigm of housing with the new modern housing found a substantial platform of expression due to industrial progress – and nevertheless, due to the “new man”.
So what was the trigger that led to a paradigm shift in housing? Was the man the one that changed the culture of housing or has the culture – with its dramatic industrialization and technology boom – changed the man’s perspective on housing and building technology?
The most useful unit of analysis that we found was that the prosecution of the chronological changes in the philosophy of life – as this is reflected in the way we live, so by default liked to the housing technology and method.
Our conclusion was that the root of the issue was ingrained in the way the man perceives his origin: the Creationism influenced the human habitation until the Darwinian philosophy changed our housing habits.
The present paper aims not to establish the truth valence of neither theory that explains the human apparition on Earth. Therefore, it does not deal with the Theory of Evolutionism and the Theory of Creation in terms of truth. It is an overview of the Ninth, Twentieth and Twenty-first century architecture (especially housing) and the way it was influenced by the human race self-awareness and concept of identity. Furthermore, the paper aims to be an incursion in the context which favored the development of certain permutations of architectural language, presenting a personal view of post-modern and modern history of philosophical ideals, politics and religion.
Therefore, the three central ideas of the article are:
- Architecture is, apart from the way of modeling the environment into providing shelter and physical protection, a reflection of the specific ideology of the time period in which it has been conceptualized.
- Architecture is neither moral or immoral; it is amoral, being – due to its practical nature, a tool.
- Architecture, as a means of expressing the human consciousness, is semi-permeable: in order for a philosophical concept to have the power to influence architecture, it has to be sustained either by a large group of people, either by a select few with the financial power and necessary means of mediating the respective idea.
Our work methodology is based on a parallel analysis between the Creationist and the Darwinian architecture – meaning architecture influenced by Creationism or Darwinism ideology. Using the same criteria, we followed the next analysis filter for both ideology systems:
Find and Name The Ten Philosophical Pillars of the Theory of Creationism / Darwinian Theory and their effects on Architecture:
- Philosophical Premises
- Effects on Architecture
2.1. Shaping our Self Awareness
2.2. Shaping our Behavior
2.3. Shaping our Building Concepts and our Habitation
I.The ten basic philosophical ideas of the Theory of Creationism* and some of their consequences:
I.1. Philosophical premises:
- Man was created as a distinct form of life.
- The creation process of human was different than the one of the other living creatures.
- The creation of man implied the willing action of an intelligent, exterior and law-making Persona, commonly referred to as “The Creator.”
- The purpose of all other creation is to serve the man, him being responsible of the way he uses it.
- Man has creative capacities independent from the rest of the creation.
- Man has the knowledge of good and evil, in rapport to values that are absolute, invariable and permanent, thus possessing the power to choose (the theory of free will).
- The absolute, invariable, permanent values have been established by the Creator.
- Man is more than a mere body. (He possesses a soul and a spirit.)
- Man is an independent being, with self reason and the abilities to analyze the environment and adjust its coordinates (topographic and geodesic) with regards to his needs.
- Man is directly responsible for his actions, leaving as legacy not only a genetic baggage, but an emotional and a spiritual one as well.
I.2. Effects on Architecture:
I.2.1. Shaping our Self Awareness:
Man sees himself in close correlation with the Creator; he reacts to different religious and spiritual experiences, whatever his religious perspective might be – because he feels indebted and inferior to the Creator; at the same time, he feels superior to other species and responsible for them. The hierarchical system in rapport to the Creator and the rest of the living creatures is absolute; notions such as lie/truth, good/evil, spiritual or philosophical cleanliness/dirtiness forms the culture developed under the sign of creationism. Man is the son of the Creator.
I.2.2. Shaping our Behavior:
There are both positive and negative consequences, because men can use most things both for good and for evil. Man adopts the position of equal towards his fellow human, recognizing in himself a valuable, individual and unequally created being – which is the positive consequence.
But when faith is used to control people, a falsely explained religious platform will permit blackmail, emotional and spiritual conditioning the average man’s access to heaven. Religion becomes a politic tool featuring the lack of consistency to be compared with the absolute values implemented by the Creator.
I.2.3. Shaping our Building Concepts and our Habitation:
(Housing concepts and environmental site colonization)
- Planimetric – Architecture is composed by:
In the Early Judaism, The Creator was perceived as an Entity that comes forth in moments chosen by Him or when He was humbly called upon by a specific person that He had previously chosen. The presence of the Creator was celebrated by the proverbial landmark stones, water wells digging, temple building (the last one is the reason Christians to nowadays use to build new churches on sites of old ones). Having the ability and need to create, humans build places for their own presence, for their own habitation, places for various activities that are linked to each other and linked to own and personal activities of the owners and unique styles of living. Significant for a place are the access points (the walking in and walking out of a place is a gesture rich in symbolism in every major culture) and the definition of a place itself: like the Creator Himself that blesses a place by His mere presence, so does – on a much lower scale – the human.
Man not only needs shelters; he needs places where he can associate smells and sounds and textures with different feelings, he needs to create memories and mental places where he can go back at. The traditional definition of a place with one / two doors, ascending and descending a place, is only found in Christian Patriarchal Ideologies. In this life view, a significant place is where every door takes to a different room; is where every place is harmoniously engaged in the hierarchy of the house; is where a place is a static background, like a theatrical decor. Memories are bound to events happened in a certain place, with a certain decoration style and a very subtle ratio between the dimensions that define the space.
a.2. axis distances:
Axis distances are well defined ascending and descending directions with well predetermined patterns that can only be integrated in the kind of architecture that curdles in a creatively pre-designed world, predefined by the radical character or absolute moral values, recently referred to as “the moral-christian values” – such as absolute truth, for instance. Not only by hierarchy of places but also by the building system that once sewed cannot bare new openings without a major structural intervention due to the nature of the structure (structural brick walls), these axis are invariable, they are defined in a clear polar system: the main gate, the secondary access, etc. – the final destination.
Axis are created with a well awareness of what the track they open mean; how we perceive them and what surprises the spaces we access bring.
Regardless if the layouts involve only the interior or also exterior of the housing design, the axis and the distance between them dispose by such an init power that by their existence they do not admit a spontaneous reinterpretation of the space defined by them.
a.3. spaces anticipating the places:
The so-called pocket spaces, like windfangs, vestibules, entrees, open perimeter galleries, are anticipative spaces, they prepare the view and the disposition for the space one is about to access. Old access rituals in sacred places imply taking off the shoes, hands washing; at the lower scale of housing – where the owner of the place is not holly by definition, thus not sacred, these rituals are reflected by creating small places that impose actions: door-knocking, taking the coat off, in some cultures even taking shoes off.
One of Architecture’s great features are the infinite games an architect can create playing the old bulk-gap game: everything pertains at the human being – the gap becomes a living space that he habits, a space defined by atmosphere; the bulk is the canvas on which the gap forms. There’s no possibility to invert the bulk with a gap. At most, in the specific warchitecture the idea of secret passages and secret rooms arose, but not in housing that remains as simple as possible, as clear as possible.
- Spatial hierarchy
There is a clear unique hierarchy instituted by the architectural language and architectural beliefs that could only be germinated in a climate where although there is no certain awareness of the nature of the Creator or his name is still debated, there is no question on the topic of his existence. The architectural creed does not doubt the principle of spaces submission one to another thus it cannot create a layout that enables space function exchanges: the guest room would never become a secondary kitchen or a living room in such housing blueprint. The cardinal orientation of spaces, the illumination, the intimacy of a space and the axis the system is designed to lead to it are undoubted and irreplaceable.
Architecture programs are clearly defined. A cohabitation of various functions may exist – and, in particular cases it is recommended by urbanism architects to adopt a mixture of functions in specific areas – but there’s no fusion in the same building among functions.
- Technology, building materials and ornaments
This period of time is characterized by a “cult” of building materials and an intimate knowledge of the physic characteristics and spiritual symbolism. Construction materials are considered to be noble depending on the geographical area they are brought from, extraction and processing method, geo-morphological composition and age, optic characteristics (light reflection, texture, porosity, sound when exposed to wind or rainstorms). Exquisite architecture to nowadays still cherishes the noblesse of its outside skin but the emotional involvement of the human implication in its design is severely restrained by the increasing speed of process
Ornaments have different meanings trough architecture history, guilds devastation and extinction – due to massive industrialization process – makes stone-lace facades (for instance) impossible.
The most eloquent example of space designed according to the principles mentioned above (in its beautiful complexity) is probably a temple. The most eloquent example regarding the site colonization, site interpretation, site understanding and site referral are revealed in the way old builders used to design the worship-places entrance apparatus: ascending in the worship place, the man that is a sinner is not allowed to touch the ground that is considered to be holly. Man is seeking the Creator’s blessing and acceptance, but he must enter the narrow gates of the Law and be aware of the great impact of the presence of the Holly One in that place.
In the Christian Rite Traditional Churches, the carpet is placed centrally and leads straight to the altar. The seats of the Wise are placed on one side and the chairs are designed to be as high as needed that while sitting, the legs of the wise are suspended in the air – not reaching the ground; Mosaic religions and Oriental religions involve either barefoot walking or foot washing or standing on a rug large enough that not even the shadow of a praying body would touch the ground.
The existence of carpets in traditional housing is merely a projection of the image of the Creator, a reflection of Him trough His most important creation – the man, the son of the Creator. If the presence of the Creator demands feet washing and taking off shoes, as well it should be done in the presence of his sons.
As long as there is a Creator, a Redeemer, a being on whose benevolence man entirely depend on to be able to continue its existence after death, man tunes his system of belief to what the deity loves; he tries to meet the spiritual authority desires. The existence of a Creator is the existence of a fixed point of philosophical reference, moral reference and ethical reference. The scale of absolute values exists because there is a reference point.
The Creationist Theory affirms that humans are firstly tributary to their spiritual needs and suffer when apart from a daily connection to their Creator. Physical needs are secondary issues but they are also met by the Creator, as stated in Luke, chapter 12 – The Famous Sermon in the Mount: „And he said unto his disciples, „Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.””
- The ten basic philosophical ideas of the Theory of Evolution and some of their consequences:
II.I. Philosophical premises:
- Species are extremely fertile. Not all born beings reach maturity.
2. Species keep their dimensions, with small variations.
3. Food supplies are limited, but relatively stable in time.
4. The apparition of a fight for survival is implicit.
5. In species which reproduce sexually, there are no two individuals alike.
6. Some variations will directly affect an individual’s capacity to survive in that environment.
7. A great part of the variations operated in humans by adapting to a different environment is inheritable.
8. Individuals that are less adapted to the environment are less susceptible to survive and less likely to reproduce, while adapted individuals have more chances to survive and reproduce.
9. Individuals that survive are the ones that pass on their genes to future generations.
10. This slow process consequently provides a population adapted to the environment in time; after several generations, these variations add up to form, eventually, new species.
II.2. Effects on Architecture:
II.2.1. Shaping our Self Awareness:
The non-existence of a spiritually superior force places the man in the position in which there is no need for him to explain or justify his actions; as long as his actions work towards reaching his goals (which are self-centered or beneficial for his family, in the restrained sense of the word), they are defined as being ‘correct’, ‘good’, ‘true’.
The previously existing comparison terms between individuals – based especially on moral, intellectual, ethnic attribute -, become secondary; the new terms of comparison are the racial, genealogical, material, physical ones. Even if some of these new terms had been in existence before, their importance was relatively diminished in comparison to the intangible ones – because the intangible Creator was more important that the tangible man. Man loses his identity, previously related exclusively to the Creator – a mass, individual and collective crisis results and manifests itself through the Armed Civil Conflicts from 1860 – 1912 previously mentioned.
Once the man’s power of decision and acting capacity according to his own personal interests became practically unlimited – and benefiting since 1970 by the political landscape that facilitated the sociological applications of the Theory of Evolution – the eugenics have been born through Francis Galton (primary cousin of Charles Darwin). Claiming that the human civilization was subject to natural selection and that which ‘is less fit’ to survive has been declassified and became extinct from that which better adapted to the environment’s conditions, it literally changed the value of human life. As an immediate application, Germany starts a ‘purifying’ policy of the race that he, the self-god, considers superior. This is the real intentional “natural” selection or the rapid acceleration of a natural process which would have anyway – according to this philosophy – take place over a longer period of time, or the compression of a process by the quick implementation of the predictable result on the basis of scientific demonstrations.
II.2.2. Shaping our Behavior:
Sociology turns its attention towards group sociology and group behavior – and it compares it to the behavior of other species; according to this philosophy, the understanding, prediction and manipulation of actions of a group of mammals can reflect and predict the reactions of a group of humans. Studies reflect the fact that as the group grows, the exterior action must be smaller in order to guide it in the desired direction, the propagation of the redirecting gesture being similar to the propagation of a wave in water. The social outcome is that the political discourses developed a commercial taste, easy to sell and superficial, appealing to the group of individuals, rather to the individual as unique identity.
II.2.3. Shaping our Building Concepts and our Habitation:
(Housing concepts and environmental site colonization)
- Planimetric – the blue print is no longer composed by places, axes, anticipation rooms:
Successors of static places / sites that were the natural expression of a stable Philosophical System are dynamic routes (flows) that accommodates human “herds” migrating with high speed; man becomes a vehicle and a possessor of various assets that can be exploited, while it is kept numb by being satisfied at different levels: primary and secondary level, according to Maslow’s pyramid; there also exist higher levels of satisfaction – but these can only be achieved by ambitious individuals, their price increasing exponentially with each step.
Architecture means no place so it doesn’t create memories – the new architecture, designed for the new man, it’s a trail that creates commotions. Architecture in itself cannot be labeled as moral or immoral, as good or bad – as memory cannot be compared with commotion; the two notions do not have common grounds, thus they cannot be compared. A new architecture cannot be wrong only if it fails its porpoise.
Axes and housing entail routes, and pathways involve places. Space can be reinterpreted at any time – multiple access points, various possibilities of space penetration, the unfolding of vertical circulation areas in relational spaces rather than one-way / one-possible route – these all make impossible to define firm boundaries or absolute statements about the house anatomy. Ground floor level multiplies, opening like a fan between building levels.
a.3. spaces anticipating the places:
Routes do not any longer lead to places but at new routes that are fed from the first ones; the metaphysical characteristic of architecture that is reflected in the net-to-net architecture is led by the ideology that we cannot talk about a remembrance place, but about moving in a direction; in the physical world, this is measured in the time required to reach one route from another one.
The concept of positive – negative contrast is reduced to reinterpretation. Man can be the negative space of the route or the route can be the negative space of the man; the exterior of a space can be its interior, if the interior is great enough to be exterior (and by “great”, we don’t necessarily assume a physical dimension). All these games can only be orchestrated by an architect that masters the new architectural language luggage that allows the expression of such unpredictable architectures – the old architectural language is limited and unable to meet the demands of the new architecture. Thus, the new architecture operates with incisions, folding, wrinkling, groundfloor knotting; these are new operations in the built volume, like a delicate surgery intervention, in the robust body of volumes.
- Space hierarchy
On a virtual site, molded by a set of virtual criteria – such as abundance of streams on a specific path, crossing frequency, span, duration, etcetera, “space hierarchy” comes to be defined by the metamorphose of local peaks of activity and dynamics in regional and global ones. The interpretation criteria underlying the importance and relevance of a leading virtual criteria in a project are determined by the project development team, based on their analysis and philosophy, not according to predetermined rules, patterns or matrix.
The undoing of the function of a space in the sense of “part of the room” in this new architecture theory assigns quality ranking to architecture by the speed of response to the local needs of the group of individuals that use that building; for instance, an airport – the architecture program is already dedicated to this new type of architecture, being only a higher gate through which hundreds of thousands of people pass every day; it’s quality is defined by the way it accommodates the following flows:
– the flow of travelers coming / leaving / waiting
– the flow of vehicles – from cars / minibuses / trains to planes
– the flow of security and protection
– the flow of intervention (rescue, firefighters)
– the flow of maintenance personnel
– the flow of personnel in direct contact with travelers
– the flow of staff not in direct contact with travelers
– the flow of food with different products / services, etc.
- Technology, building materials and ornaments
Modern architecture is one of the main engines that generate chemical industry development, the extraction and processing of different resources. In most cases, the post-modern architecture completely misses ornaments, in the noble allure of the building the pre-existing built territory landscaped setting itself a decor.
Modern architecture responds to the demands of a new kind of man, born under the sign of evolution and political correctness, which inherited a polluted Terra, with basic life sustaining resources insufficient in the medium run. “The recent man”, as he is named by Horia-Roman Patapievici, is still trapped in the quest to define himself, because he is missing the main comparison term – an absolute scale. He couldn’t keep building places, since a place cannot be a place by itself, but rather in respect to something else – something which must be invariable. Obviously, at the individual housing level, this new building philosophy is yet to be discovered and explored, as it still is somehow unfit while the man still possesses the conscience of a creator. The principles, however, have been successfully applied on the large scale architecture programs, and worked because the new man was taught to think in new terms, terms which cannot be expressed by an old-school architecture.
The possible non-existence of a God that is, eventually, the catalyst of the community, invariably throws the society into a delayed adolescence with no possible predictions on its finality at the present moment. What is certain is that at the end of each civilization, there existed a significant event and that humanity is rapidly approaching the end of contemporary civilization. On the other hand, the theory of evolution extended through the theory of relativity can pose the question: are we projecting buildings for that which is a large flux towards what? What comparison term do we have in mind when we say a group / flux is ‘large’?
Most likely, time will tell – independently of any religious affiliation – if the Theory of Evolution is true or it’s nothing more than a semantic space, fabulous by its unpredictable effects which extended enough to make it possible to have already modified the ‘face’ of architecture forever.
- The Bible, translated by „Dumitru Cornilescu”, 1928
- Darwin, Charles – „On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”, 1859
- Djuvara, Neagu – „Civilizations and historical patterns. A comparative study of civilizations.” (Original title in Romanian,
“Civilizaţii şi tipare istorice. Un studiu comparat al civilizaţiilor”, 1975
- Chevalier, Jean; Gheerbrant, Alain – „Dictionnaire of Symbols” (Original tile in Romanian, „Dicţionar de simboluri”, 1969
- Taschen – „Architectural Theory from Renaissance to the Present”, 2006