All
Projects
Products
Events
Competitions
  1. ArchDaily
  2. Unified Architectural Theory

Unified Architectural Theory: The Latest Architecture and News

Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 1

00:00 - 17 September, 2013
Unified Architectural Theory: Chapter 1, The Farnsworth House, by Mies van der Rohe, has influenced generations of architects -- but is it really the best paragon for architecture?. Image © Greg Robbins
The Farnsworth House, by Mies van der Rohe, has influenced generations of architects -- but is it really the best paragon for architecture?. Image © Greg Robbins

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, "The Structure of Architectural Theories," posits that architecture, if it is truly to work with natural ecosystems, must adopt a scientifically-informed, systemic approach. If you missed the introduction, you may find it here.

Architecture is a human act that invades and displaces the natural ecosystem. Biological order is destroyed every time we clear native plant growth and erect buildings and infrastructure. The goal of architecture is to create structures to house humans and their activities. Humans are parts of the earth’s ecosystem, even though we tend to forget that.

Logically, architecture has to have a theoretical basis that begins with the natural ecosystem. The act of building orders materials in very specific ways, and humans generate an artificial ordering out of materials they have extracted from nature and transformed to various degrees. Some of today’s most widely-used materials, such as plate glass and steel, require energy-intensive processes, and thus contain high embodied energy costs. Those cannot be the basis for any sustainable solution, despite all the industry hype. 

Resource depletion and a looming ecological catastrophe are consequences of detachment from nature, and a blind faith in technology to solve the problems it creates. 

Unified Architectural Theory: An Introduction

00:00 - 30 August, 2013
Unified Architectural Theory: An Introduction, "People react according to their biological intuition, judging their environment for its positive or negative effect on the human body. Architects, on the other hand, are conditioned to ignore their own bodily signals and to judge the world according to abstract criteria. In many cases, such judgments lead them to build anxiety-inducing structures that are bad for people’s health and wellbeing." Brutalist building. Image © Andy Spain
"People react according to their biological intuition, judging their environment for its positive or negative effect on the human body. Architects, on the other hand, are conditioned to ignore their own bodily signals and to judge the world according to abstract criteria. In many cases, such judgments lead them to build anxiety-inducing structures that are bad for people’s health and wellbeing." Brutalist building. Image © Andy Spain

In the following months, we at ArchDaily 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. In the following paragraphs, Salingaros explains why we've decided to impart on this initiative, and also introduces what his book is all about: answering "the old and very disturbing question as to why architects and common people have diametrically opposed preferences for buildings."

ArchDaily and I are initiating a new idea in publishing, one which reflects the revolutionary trends awaiting book publishing's future. At this moment, my book, Unified Architectural Theory, 2013, is available only in the USA. With the cooperation of ArchDaily and its sister sites in Portuguese and Spanish, it will soon be available, in a variety of languages, to anyone with internet access. Being published one chapter at a time, students and practitioners will be able to digest the material at their leisure, to print out the pages and assemble them as a "do-it-yourself" book for reference, or for use in a course. For the first time, students will have access to this material, in their own time, in their own language, and for free!

The book itself arose from a lecture course on architecture theory I taught last year. Students were presented with the latest scientific results showing how human beings respond to different types of architectural forms and spaces. At the end of the course, everyone was sufficiently knowledgeable in the new methods to be able to evaluate for themselves which buildings, urban spaces, and interior settings were better suited for human beings. 

This approach is of course totally different from what is now known as “Architectural Theory.”