Architecture characteristics and meanings

  What is Architecture?  (What are some of its defining characteristics, meanings, and foundational questions?)


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Part 02: What are the central issues the discipline face?  (what is causing this uncertainty)




PART 03: What are some Foundational Concepts/Methodologies for design? (What are some of its basic languages/vehicles for communication)




ARCH 1110/FALL 2022


LECTURE 11/11.01.22



ARCH 1110/FALL 2022





SECTION 01: What is a manifesto/What is its purpose?

SECTION 02: Modernist Architecture & the Manifesto SECTION 03: Contemporary Examples



ARCH 1110/FALL 2022: LECTURE 11


What is a manifesto/What is its purpose?



A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds.

It is derived from the Italian word manifesto, itself derived from the Latin manifestum, meaning clear or conspicuous.



[The fundamental] proposition is: that in every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which it is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these class struggles forms a series of evolutions in which, now-a- days, a stage has been reached where the exploited and oppressed class—the proletariat—cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class—the bourgeoisie—without, at the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.

Excerpt from the Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx & Fredrich Engels)




Structure/Form: (Common) • description of historical condition/how we got here

• What needs to be done…

• what could/should emerge that brings positive change • to the circumstance



ARCH 1110/FALL 2021: LECTURE 11


Modernist Architecture & the Manifesto




1907 Henry van de Velde: Credo

Thou shalt comprehend the form and construction of all objects only in the sense of their strictest, elementary logic and justification for their existence.

Thou shalt adapt and subordinate these forms and constructions to the essential use of the material which thou employest.

And if thou art animated by the wish to beautify these forms and constructions, give thyself to the longing for refinement to which thy aesthetic sensibility or taste for ornament- of whatever kind it is – shall inspire thee, only so far as thou canst respect and retain the rights and the essential appearance of these forms and constructions!








1908 Adolf Loos: Ornament and Crime

The child is amoral. To our eyes, the Papuan is too. The Papuan kills his enemies and eats them. He is not a criminal. But when modern man kills someone and eats him he is either a criminal or a degenerate. The Papuan tattoos his skin, his boat, his paddles, in short everything he can lay hands on. He is not a criminal. The modern man who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons in which eighty per cent of the inmates show tattoos. The tattooed who are not in prison are latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If someone who is tattooed dies at liberty, it means he has died a few years before committing a murder.



The urge to ornament one’s face and everything within reach is the start of plastic art. It is the baby talk of painting. All art is erotic. The first ornament that was born, the cross, was erotic in origin. The first work of art, the first artistic act which the first artist, in order to rid himself of his surplus energy, smeared on the wall. A horizontal dash: the prone woman….. The man who created it felt the same urge as Beethoven, he was in the same heaven in which Beethoven created the Ninth Symphony. But the man of our day who, in response to an inner urge, smears the walls with erotic symbols is a criminal or a degenerate. It goes without saying that this impulse most frequently assails people with such symptoms of degeneracy in the lavatory. A country’s culture can be assessed by the extent to which its lavatory walls are smeared. In the child this is a natural phenomenon: his first artistic expression is to scribble erotic symbols on the walls. But what is natural to the Papuan and the child is a symptom of degeneracy in the modern adult.



Very well, the ornament disease is recognized by the state and subsidized with state funds. But I see in this a retrograde step. I don’t accept the objection, that ornament heightens a cultivated person’s joy in life, don’t accept the objection contained in the words·: ‘But if the ornament is beautiful!’ Ornament does not heighten my joy in life or the joy in life of any cultivated person.

The speed of cultural evolution is reduced by the stragglers. I perhaps am living in 1908, but my neighbour is living in 1900 and the man across the way in 1880. It is unfortunate for a state when the culture of its inhabitants is spread over such a great period of time. The peasants of Kals are living in the twelfth century. And there were peoples taking part in the Jubilee parade (of the Emperor Franz Joseph) who would have been considered backward even during the migration of the nations. Happy the land that has no such stragglers and marauders. Happy America!



[Ornament is no longer organically linked with our culture, it is also no longer the expression of our culture. The ornament that is manufactured today has no connexion with us, has absolutely no human connexions, no connexion with the world order. It is not capable of developing. What happened to Otto Eckmann’s ornament, or van de Velde’s? The artist has always stood at the forefront of mankind full of vigour and health. But the modern ornamentalist is a straggler or a pathological phenomenon. He himself will repudiate his own products three years later. To cultivated people they are immediately intolerable; others become aware of their intolerable character only years later. Where are Otto Eckmann’s works today? Modern ornament has no parents and no progeny, no past and no future. By uncultivated people, to whom the grandeur of our age is a book with seven seals, it is greeted joyfully and shortly afterwards repudiated.



[I am preaching to the aristocrat. I tolerate ornaments on my own body, when they constitute the joy of my fellow men. Then they are my joy too. I can tolerate the ornaments of the Kaffir, the Persian, the Slovak peasant woman, my shoemaker’s ornaments, for they all have no other way of attain ing the high points of their existence. We have art, which has taken the place of ornament. After the toils and troubles of the day we go to Beethoven or to Tristan. This my shoemaker cannot do. I mustn’t deprive him of his joy, since I have nothing else to put in its place. But anyone who goes to the Ninth Symphony and then sits down and designs a wallpaper pattern is either a confidence trickster or a degenerate. Absence of ornament has brought the other arts to unsuspected heights. Beethoven’s symphonies would never have been written by a man who had to walk about in silk, satin, and lace. Anyone who goes around in a velvet coat today is not an artist but a buffoon or a house painter. We have grown finer, more subtle. The nomadic herdsmen had to distinguish themselves by various colours; modern man uses his clothes as a mask. So immensely strong is his individuality that it can no longer be expressed in articles of clothing. Freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength. Modern man uses the ornaments of earlier or alien cultures as he sees fit. He concentrates his own inventiveness on other things.







1910 frank Lloyd Wright: Organic architecture

In Organic Architecture then, it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishings another and its setting and environment still another. The Spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these together at work as one thing. All are to be studiously foreseen and provided for in the nature of the structure. All these should become mere details of the character and completeness of the structure. Incorporated (or excluded) are lighting, heating and ventilation. The very chairs and tables, cabinets and even musical instruments, where practicable, are of the building itself, never fixtures upon it …



To thus make of a human dwelling-place a complete work of art, in itself expressive and beautiful, intimately related to modern life and fit to live in, lending itself more freely and suitably to the individual needs of the dwellers as itself an harmonious entity, fitting in colour, pattern and nature the utilities and be really an expression of them in character, – this is the tall modern American opportunity in Architecture. True basis of a true Culture. An exalted view to take of the ‘property instinct’ of our times? But once founded and on view I believe this Ideal will become a new Tradition: a vast step in advance of the prescribed fashion in a day when a dwelling was a composite of cells arranged as separate rooms: chambers to contain however good aggregations of furniture, utility comforts not present: a property interest chiefly. An organic-entity, this modern building as contrasted with that former insensate aggregation of parts. Surely we have here the higher ideal of unity as a more intimate working out of the expression of one’s life in one’s environment. One great thing instead of a quarrelling collection of so many little things.








ARCH 1110/FALL 2022


LECTURE 11/11.01.22



ARCH 1110/FALL 2022





If it yearns after primordial truths, the spirit destroys itself; if it weds the earth it thrives. Max Jacob (Philosophies, No.I, 1924)

The town is a working tool. Towns do not normally fulfil this function. They are inefficient: they wear out the body, they frustrate the mind. The increasing disorder in our towns is offensive: their decay damages our self-esteem and injures our dignity. They are not worthy of the age. They are no longer worthy of us.

A town! It is an assault by man upon nature. It is a human action against nature, a human organism designed for shelter and work. It is a creation. Poetry is a human act – concerted interrelationships between perceptible images. To be exact, the poetry of nature is nothing but a construction of the ” human spirit. The town is a powerful image that activates our spirit. Why should not the town, even today, be a source of poetry?



Geometry is the means with which we have provided ourselves for looking around us and expressing ourselves.

Geometry is the basis.

It is also the material foundation for symbols signifying perfection, the divine. It brings us the lofty satisfaction of mathematics. The machine develops out of geometry. Thus the whole of the modem age is made up above all of geometry; it directs its dreams towards the joys of geometry. After a century of analysis, modem arts and thought are seeking something beyond the random fact and geometry leads them towards a mathematical order, an attitude of mind ….



There reigns a great disagreement between the modern state of mind, which is an admonition to us, and the stifling accumulation of age-long detritus.

The problem is one of adaptation, in which the realities of our life are in question. Society is filled with a violent desire for something which it may obtain or may not. Everything lies in that : everything depends on the effort made and the attention paid to these alarming symptoms.

Architecture or Revolution. Revolution can be avoided.



















I like complexity and contradiction in architecture. I do not like the incoherence or arbitrariness of incompetent architecture nor the precious intricacies of picturesqueness or expressionism. Instead, I speak of a complex and contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience, including that experience which is inherent in art. Everywhere, except in architecture, complex ity and contradiction have been acknowledged, from Godel’s proof of ultimate inconsistency in mathematics to T. S. Eliot’s analysis of “difficult” poetry and Joseph Albers’ definition of the paradoxical quality of painting.

But architecture is necessarily complex and contradictory in its very inclusion of the traditional Vitruvian elements of commodity, firmness, and delight. And today the wants of program, structure, mechanical equipment, and expression, even in single buildings in simple contexts, are diverse and conflicting in ways previously unimaginable. The increasing dimension and scale of architecture in urban and regional planning add to the difficulties. I welcome the problems and exploit the uncertainties. By embracing con- tradiction as well as complexity, I aim for vitality as well as validity.

Architects can no longer afford to be intimidated by the puritanically moral language of orthodox Modern architecture. I like elements which are hybrid rather than “pure,” compromising rather than “clean,” distorted rather than “straightforward,” ambiguous rather than “articulated,” perverse as well as impersonal, boring as well as “interesting,” conventional rather than “designed,” accommodating rather than excluding, redundant rather than simple, vestigial as well as innovating, inconsistent and equivocal rather than direct and clear. I am for messy vitality over obvious unity. I include the non sequitur and proclaim the duality.



Orthodox Modern architects have tended to recognize complexity insufficiently or inconsistently. In their attempt to break with tradition and start all over again, they ideal- ized the primitive and elementary at the expense of the diverse and the sophisticated. As participants in a revolu- tionary movement, they acclaimed the newness of modern functions, ignoring their complications. In their role as reformers, they puritanically advocated the separation and exclusion of elements, rather than the inclusion of various requirements and their juxtapositions. As a forerunner of the Modern movement, Frank Lloyd Wright, who grew up with the motto “Truth against the World,” wrote: “Visions of simplicity so broad and far-reaching would open to me and such building harmonies appear that . . . would change and deepen the thinking and culture of the modern world. So I believed.”11 And Le Corbusier, co-founder of Purism, spoke of the “great primary forms” which, he pro- claimed, were “distinct . . . and without ambiguity.” Modern architects with few exceptions eschewed ambiguity.


But now our position is different: “At the same time that the problems increase in quantity, complexity, and dif iculty they also change faster than before,” and require an attitude more like that described by August Heckscher: “The movement from a view of life as essentially simple and orderly to a view of life as complex and ironic is what every individual passes through in becoming mature. But certain epochs encourage this development; in them the paradoxical or dramatic outlook colors the whole intellectual scene. . . . Amid simplicity and order rationalism is born, but rationalism proves inadequate in any period of upheaval. Then equilibrium must be created out of opposites. Such inner peace as men gain must represent a tension among contradictions and uncertainties. . . . A feeling for paradox allows seemingly dissimilar things to exist side by side, their very incongruity suggesting a kind of truth.”







ARCH 1110/FALL 2022: LECTURE 11


Some Contemporary Examples



Craft. Architecture. 10 Thoughts.

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ARCH 1110/FALL 2022: LECTURE 11


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