Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Origin, Architecture and the Primitive Hut



The concept of the origin is defeated in its expansion to understanding. In order to understand the origin, one must study it in reference to similar phenomena, which goes against the concept and innate nature of the origin and relates it to a necessarily prior existence. 

The issue of the origin is an idealist dilemma, and it is therefore embarrassed when exposed to the public domain. The idea that the origin is an axiom, a self-evident phenomena that requires no proof, results in its misunderstanding. Axiomatic beginning are found in “self-evidence”, a chain of reduction which eventually arrives at the axiom and compels it to be the limit, and thus the beginning. It is so basic, that it cannot be connected to prior existence and is consequently beyond proof. The intention behind the axiom contradicts its definition as an irreducible truth. The absolute, or axiomatic, limit is the words that compose the system and reduce reality for the particular language. 

The concept of the origin and its uncertainty is the unstable fulcrum on which architecture balances. There is an innate ambiguity in the nature of architecture, is it art or utility? design or building? ordinance or shelter? communication or being? In the midst of this indecision, one can always orient architecture and its battle for precedence in the origin. 

Architecture has the capacity to be straightforward in its relationship to building, but it finds its complexity in its state of constant reversal of terms and instability of ordering. The origin of architecture is unclear due to its simultaneous existence as an abstract institution and physical fact, both of which claim an independent origin. In the narrative of the primitive hut, building precedes architecture; It was the hut first, which then became architecture. However, this story is flawed in its betrayal of a prior sense of architecturality by which the hut is recognized. “Which came first? The hut or the idea?”

Architecture is different from building due to its function— it is an addition or superlative and is marked by its neglect for utility. However, it is in the term utility that the ground condition for distinguishing meaning is found. The notion of this absence, the fact that architecture feels incomplete, is the vehicle for architecture’s continual reinvention. The supplementary nature of architecture becomes the means by which we essentially understand the concept of the building itself — it becomes the reading of the building in its pre-architectural or non-architectural condition, as well as in its structuration and context. The presence of architecture is an unnecessary and inessential superlative and “supplementary” condition as it is not the building itself, but rather the architectural experience paired with the structure. The attempt to distinguish or establish a hierarchical relationship between art and utility within architecture is as ambiguous and futile as the search for the origin itself. 

The architectural experience of a building is founded in the expectation that a building will be meaningful or an expression of some intention, where the intention bridges the distance to said meaning. The origin is central in the structure of meaning as it provides formal reference and comparative development which relates to the two sense of the origin: the origin as a source and as beginning of existence. 

Architecturality is essentially empty and meaningless without an object to frame, as it independently  posses no presence. Architecturality is a verbal noun, an attitude, it has no internal ability to generate form out of a void. As a consequence of this inability to make something from nothing, form must be provided, and the void may then be filled by pragmatic insertion.  

Reference for classical architecture was always found in nature. The mythologies and forms in nature is what architecture was meant to conceptually represent. In this case, architectural meaning was not found in culture or topology, but rather in the natural world and the paradoxical integration of nature into object. 

Within the specific architectural object, meaning is generated by the compositional development of the object from an original state. The complete context is encompassed within the process by which the object manifests its specificity. The compositional design process creates a meaning whose principal attributes elaboration. 

Architecture gains much of its richness and depth from the interplay of two positions regarding the standard of use and the value of its paired substitute. Architecture gathers meaning from focus and expression of its intention as opposed to the ambiguous use-as-origin. The utility of a building is what ultimately distinguishes between building and art. 


McCarter, Robert. Building machines. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1987.

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