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Nikos A. Salingaros & Kenneth G. Masden II

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How to Judge a Building: Does it Make you Feel More, Or Less Alive?

09:30 - 7 December, 2018
How to Judge a Building: Does it Make you Feel More, Or Less Alive? , via Wikimedia. ImageSelgas Cano's Pavilion at the 2018 Brugge Triennale
via Wikimedia. ImageSelgas Cano's Pavilion at the 2018 Brugge Triennale

This extract was originally published on Common Edge as "The Legacy of Christopher Alexander: Criteria for an Intelligent Architecture."

In his monumental four-volume book, The Nature of Order, Christopher Alexander talks about an intelligent architecture, responsive to human needs and sensibilities through adaptation to existing buildings and nature. This is a new way of viewing the world—a way of connecting to it, and to ourselves—yet it is very much the same as the most ancient ways of connecting.

Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 7

00:00 - 2 August, 2014
Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 7, Jyvaskyla University, designed by Alvar Aalto, is commonly cited as an example of "Critical Regionalism." However, according to Salingaros' Unified Architectural Theory, "Critical Regionalism" does not go far enough in removing architecture from the influence of Modernist principles. Image © Nico Saieh
Jyvaskyla University, designed by Alvar Aalto, is commonly cited as an example of "Critical Regionalism." However, according to Salingaros' Unified Architectural Theory, "Critical Regionalism" does not go far enough in removing architecture from the influence of Modernist principles. Image © Nico Saieh

We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. The following chapter, written by Salingaros and Kenneth G. Masden II, delves deeper into the limitations of current architectural philosophies, including “Critical Regionalism,” and justifies the creation of Intelligence-Based Design. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

As the architects of tomorrow, today’s students must come to understand the role and responsibility of their profession as something intrinsically tied to human existence and the lived experience. A new suggested educational system provides a direct means to design adaptive environments, in response to growing needs of the marketplace (client demand). Nevertheless, most architectural institutions continue to propagate a curricular model that has sustained an image-based method and its peculiar ideology for decades. We can trace this support to early twentieth-century anti-traditional movements. Reform is impossible without addressing the system’s long-forgotten ideological roots. 

Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 5

00:00 - 8 June, 2014
Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 5, Dessau Bauhaus / Walter Gropius. "We read with alarm about Bauhaus images and practices introduced into the architectural education of developing countries. The press announces these as “progressive” moves, little realizing what danger that poses to that country’s tradition". Image © Thomas Lewandovski
Dessau Bauhaus / Walter Gropius. "We read with alarm about Bauhaus images and practices introduced into the architectural education of developing countries. The press announces these as “progressive” moves, little realizing what danger that poses to that country’s tradition". Image © Thomas Lewandovski

We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. The following chapter discusses our society’s phobia against natural, local forms - our “ecophobia” - and the need for the architecture discipline to counter this fear by adopting a more scientifically-rigorous, intellectual structure. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.

The 21st century has begun with a continuation, and perhaps intensification, of the worst prejudices seen in the twentieth. Those prejudices include a disdain of traditional cultures, and all that links a human being to his/her local history. 

Similarly, most building and planning today follow unwritten rules that have no empirical foundation, being based strictly upon visual/ideological constructs from the early twentieth century. Contemporary design avoids any criterion of quality that draws upon evolved precedent and tradition from a prior era, and thinks that this refusal is a great virtue. In this way, architects and urbanists end up obeying simplistic criteria for design, rejecting any sense of beauty that links human beings with their land, tradition, and culture. 

The term “ecophobia” refers to an unreasonable but deeply conditioned reaction against natural forms. It has also been used in clinical psychology to denote a phobia against one’s dwelling, but that specific use now appears to be antiquated. However, we believe that these two terms “ecophobia” and “oikophobia” may in many cases be used interchangeably. (Linguistically, the common Greek root for “house” can be written either as ecos or oikos).