A New Architecture?

A New Architecture?

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-653-7.ch003
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Traditional Architecture

So, how might we frame architecture? What is architecture all about? Or formulated slightly different, then what are the fundamental concepts or primary elements on which any architecture rests? If we are to talk about interactive architecture, or if we are to speak generally about a new architecture then we first need a good understanding of architecture per se.

If first looking at traditional architecture we can say that it is about the built environment, and typical architectural systems deals with the architecture of space, structure, or enclosure. This includes questions about organizational pattern, relationships, clarity and hierarchy. Formal image and spatial definition, qualities of shape, color, texture, scale and proportion, as well as qualities of surfaces, edges and openings. Here, a spatial system refers to the three dimensional integration of program elements and spaces that accommodates the multiple functions and relationships of a building. Further on, a structural system might be a grid of columns supporting horizontal beams and slabs, thus being about the fundamentals to enable and keep the physical form intact. Finally, an enclosure system can be defined as the use of elements to frame a specific piece of architecture, e.g. four exterior wall planes defines a rectangular volume that contains the program elements and spaces (Ching, 2007).

To these basic systems we can then add e.g. circular systems that deals with movement through the built environment, and we might add context as an important perspective for understanding how different architectural solutions could be brought together in the creation of functioning wholes, both in terms of physical realization as well as how it correspond to a certain accommodated program.

When saying that a built environment is accommodating a program this includes an understanding of the use of that built environment in terms of e.g. user requirements, needs and aspiration, as well as the acknowledging of socio-cultural factors, economic factors, legal constraints, and historical tradition and precedents (Ching, 2007).

In terms of architectural systems and orders we can in traditional architecture identify at least three different levels. These three levels include the physical level that deals with questions related to solids and voids as well as questions related to interior and exterior.

Further on, the perceptual level deals with questions related to sensory perception and recognition of the physical elements by experiencing them sequentially in time. Some typical areas of architectural systems and organizations on this level include e.g. approach and departure, entry and egress, movement through the order of spaces, functioning of and activities within spaces, and qualities of light, color, texture, view, and sound.

Finally, in architecture the conceptual level deals with questions related to comprehension of the ordered or disordered relationships among a building’s elements and systems, and how we respond to the meanings they evoke. This level frames architectural systems and organizations dealing with e.g. images, patterns, signs, symbols, and context. In architecture, this notion of context can be described as the relationships between functions, space, form and techniques. Here, technique refers to the theory, principles, or study of an art or a process. (Ching, 2007).

Traditional architecture is about the built environment and it can be viewed or understood as being designed as 1) a coherent structure (internal state), and 2) a relational surface (correspondence). In order to “read” one certain architecture it is important to take these two dimensions into account. In this book, the notion of texture has been introduced to make this transition between the internal state and the surface as smooth as possible. In fact, as presented in this book, then texture is this concept that unifies the internal state with the surface of a material, an element, a facade, or even a whole architectural installation (ranging from the public sculpture or a single building to large scale architectural structures, blocks or systems). In other words, if any architecture is to make sense for its observer or inhabitant it needs to communicate not only its form and use, but also make sense in terms of how these two are interlinked in the built environment.

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