Toward a comprehensive understanding of architecture: aspects of science and art re-presented
Miller, Rob (Vocalist)
Rowe, Peter G.
Master of Architecture
This thesis suggests that the current confusion in contemporary architecture may be largely due to a split in thinking that began after the Renaissance. This split in thinking, manifested as a dichotomy between science and art, developed through the Enlightenment, the Romantic Period, and the Industrial Revolution and profoundly influenced man's way of thinking, and in particular, his perception of architecture. Consequently, architects since the Renaissance have been prone to perceive of architecture as either a science or an art, and not as a holistic entity of its own. The effects of the science-art split are most evident during modern times. Coincident with the twentieth century flourish of science and technology, a rift of dissatisfaction occurred in mainstream architecture. In a search for principles, scientific methods were applied to the architectural context which led to the development of several false notions about design and architecture. These were developed and proliferated by four movements, "Empiricism," "Technicalism," "Methodism," and "Functionalism," which collectively may be called the Scientific Tradition in architecture. Among other false beliefs that plague contemporary architecture, the Scientific Tradition advanced the notion that form can be solely determined by the parameters of the problem at hand. If contemporary architecture has been misinformed by this 5 year-old tradition of dichotomous thought, then its true nature needs to be reconsidered Investigations into the essence of style, aesthetics, and the workings of design reveal that architecture is always informed by the designer's intentions. Moreover, these intentions are specified by man's physical, intellectual and emotional relationships to his built environment. A comprehensive understanding of architectural intentions would seem to be essential in remedying confusion and improving the quality of contemporary architecture. Finally, the great and timeless architecture of history supports the thesis that architecture is more than science or art. These works suggest a normative approach to design which unites and transcends the scientific and artistic perceptions of architecture. Such a holistic perception, drawn from a comprehensive understanding of the true nature of architecture, will lead to the generation of timeless solutions.