Monday, October 3, 2011

Philosophy of Architecture II

1. Stonehenge contains messages from the past that are
still being deciphered.
The philosophy of architecture is a big subject. In my opinion, architecture is ultimately a storage medium for information. The information it contains tells stories about us. Architecture speaks to us just as movies or music or novels convey moods and emotions and values. And just as movies tell different stories in different ways, architecture reveals or explains different things about the way we live, the nature of our religions, our hopes and aspirations. As stated earlier, most people think of architecture as simply a variety of styles. However, it is the stories contained in architecture that are important. Style is secondary to other qualities that convey information such as volume, sequence of events, and many other abstract characteristics.  
2. The Temple Philae in Egypt tells stories about religion.
Architecture tells us about the culture, climate, lifestyle, religion, and physical attributes of the people for whom it is built. We can look at an Egyptian temple and learn about the gods and demons that dominated their thinking. The ruins of Pompeii tell us about the daily activity of ancient Romans. We can visit a Gothic cathedral and see the progression of human understanding in engineering, their aesthetic attitude towards light, their spiritual goals. These are stories that can move people and make us think. They have nothing to do with architectural style per se, but with deeper aesthetic values which architecture embodies.
3. Ruts in the road convey archaeological information about Pompeii.
4. The forum at Pompeii conveys information about daily life in Pompeii.

The information stored in architecture is more than the obvious archaeological record. Architecture provides information about what might be or could be. This is the territory where things get really interesting. These characteristics are hints about the philosophies that underlie all architecture. 
5. Chartres cathedral is a tale of illumination and faith.
1. Wigulf
2. Anon. 1800. Public Domain
3. Dvortfirl
4. Achille Etna Michallon 19th century. Public Domain (Louvre)
5. BT