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Architecture of Thought

Architecture of Thought

Andrzej Piotrowski
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Architecture of Thought
    Book Description:

    Architecture of Thought maps and conceptually explores material practices of the past. Andrzej Piotrowski shows how physical artifacts and visual environments manifest culturally rooted modes of thought and participate in the most nuanced processes of negotiations and ideological exchanges. According to Piotrowski, material structures enable people to think in new ways before words can stabilize them as conventional narratives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-4573-2
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: The Moving Target of Architecture
    (pp. xi-xviii)

    History and theories of architecture seem to be chasing a moving target. Despite the continuous efforts to catalog architectural products and to identify conceptual programs that have motivated their designers, built environments—historical and lived-in structures—defy taxonomies of form and challenge simple notions of intentional creativity or problem solving. Questions of what architecture is and what the design process involves produce many divergent, often contradictory, answers. Unequivocal answers usually eliminate what makes architecture unique—the inherent ambiguity of its meanings. At the same time, it appears paradoxical that whenever a new critical theory redefines what we know about the...

  5. 1 Architecture and Medieval Modalities of Thought
    (pp. 1-32)

    Michel Foucault once asked: “What does it mean, no longer being able to think a certain thought?”¹ Such a question directly applies to Byzantine architecture. Its best-preserved examples, such as Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or the Katholikon in the monastery of Hosios Loukas near Delphi, seemingly belong to the traditional canon of the Western history. They are frequently featured in books about architecture of the medieval ages. Yet, in general, Byzantine art occupies a peculiar place in that history. As the legacy of classical Greece and Rome, Byzantium is considered European, but not entirely. Iconoclasm epitomizes the worst aspects of...

  6. 2 Colonization and Symbolic Reality in Mesoamerica
    (pp. 33-92)

    Many contemporary studies of the conquest and colonization of Mesoamerica strangely resemble texts from that period. Both historical and contemporary writings frequently frame cultural and political phenomena in a similar manner—a problem reaching beyond the truthfulness of so-called factual information established in old Spanish records. Old and new documents seem to be grounded in a way of thinking that created the “black” or “white’’ legend of those events. Although the interactions between the Spaniards and different Amerindian cultures have been discussed as a military conquest, religious conversion, and a cultural encounter, these explorations often assume that those historical events...

  7. 3 Structures of Tolerance and Religious Domination
    (pp. 93-152)

    What does it mean to dismiss a building as provincial architecture? Most likely, it implies that it lacks certain features characteristic of so-called high culture, that is, its design is not sufficiently aligned with the stylistic principles of the ideology that dominated that region or nation. Provincial phenomena are usually seen as synonymous with the peripheries of political and intellectual influence. Location alone is not sufficient, however, to discount a building. Even if built in a cultural center, a structure may be deemed inferior if its designers seem to have misunderstood proper rules, lacked technical expertise, or seemingly could not...

  8. 4 Technologies of Thought in Victorian England
    (pp. 153-230)

    Previous chapters have shown that, throughout history, Europeans have made various efforts to control symbolic thought. In the nineteenth century, the desire to merge material and symbolic technologies was still present, but the traditional—reductive and stable—ways of thinking could no longer deal with the dynamism of the emerging structures of sociopolitical relationships and practices of life triggered by the industrial revolution. It was no longer a question of a different system of interpretations; rather, there was a palpable need to liquefy traditional structures of thought, to keep symbolic thinking fluid, and endlessly open to manipulation. A new kind...

  9. 5 High Modernism according to Le Corbusier
    (pp. 231-257)

    Throughout most of the twentieth century, Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) was considered a creative genius instrumental in reshaping the built environments of the modern world. Historians agree that his was the primary contribution to the emerging High Modernism. He is still emblematic of the myth that the total design has redemptive powers. His work is said to mark a turning point in the development of Western architecture, a radical and self-conscious departure from the artistic legacy of the nineteenth century. Like all “early practitioners of modernism [who] were nearly unanimous in stressing their ‘break’ with the past in rejecting the...

  10. Closing Remarks: The West
    (pp. 258-266)

    It may be useful to reflect more generally on the Western perspective against which the examples in this book have been analyzed. All material practices studied here revolve around the thinkability of represented concepts and the control of their meanings. Dominant powers have always laid claim to control over the way people know things, but the West seems to have been the most successful in fusing power and knowledge, its primary tool being the elimination of other, complex, or critical ways of thinking. Even the limited examples discussed here show that the other modalities of thought that European powers attempted...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 267-310)
  12. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 311-314)
  13. Index
    (pp. 315-323)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 324-325)
  15. [illustrations]
    (pp. 326-337)