Nikos … Vs. “Critical Regionalism” …

Isabella … ha, evidentemente, toccato sul vivo la sensibilità di Nikos …
che prontamente risponde e allega …
e noi volentieri ospitiamo: …

“Gentile Isabella,
Leggo i tuoi commenti su Regionalismo Critico ospitati nel blog del
professor Muratore. Non ne sono d’accordo, ma voglio soltanto spedire
un brano del saggio che ho scritto sul questo tema. Forse tu non sei
d’accordo con me, ma almeno abbiamo aperto una posizione esplicita.
Qui negli Stati Uniti, non consideriamo Frampton nessun’autorità,
piuttosto un membro dell’establishment che ha fatto tanti danni
all’architettura.
Cari saluti

Nikos

POLITICS, PHILOSOPHY, CRITICAL THEORY, AND HUMAN PERCEPTION.
Evolutionary compulsion forces human beings to establish a system of relationships between the physical body and the human mind’s mental perceptions, which enable us to experience the world and our existence. These relationships provide us with our sense of wellbeing, our sense of belonging, and our deeper sense of who we are. Through the physical and the visual aspects of human perception, the body managed humankind’s earliest interactions with the world. Evolution developed a neurological structure in humans by which they could negotiate the immediate conditions of their lives. Through the surrounding informational fields — physical and visual information embedded in the natural structure of the world — humans successfully evolved to construct artifacts for living. These creations range from jewelry, to furniture, to buildings, and ultimately to cities.
As the human mind continued to develop through the impulse of emotion, there came a point where humans were able to manufacture abstract ideas and thoughts, outside the physical reality that confronted them on a daily basis. The schism between the subject/object natures of perception permits the manufacture of an alternative reality. This mental capacity has been the protagonist of human thought and enquiry for millennia — leading to some of the greatest achievements of the human mind — at other times it led humankind towards the greatest atrocities imaginable. During the last century, architecture — as the formation of a world outside our bodies — has been consigned by contemporary doctrine to the intellectual creations of a purely subjective mind.
The informational fields that surround us are more important today than ever, given the dependency of students on image-based learning. Supplanting natural information by intellectual abstraction effectively removes the essential informational content needed for human engagement with the outside world, replacing it with blank walls. Throughout the twentieth century, one of the important situational constructs that enabled architects to substitute images for what is real was their ability to use the written word to subsidize their informationally-poor structures. So began a long history of political and polemical texts operating as the philosophical surrogate for embedded knowledge, which was henceforth lost from the built world.
Architecture schools now rely heavily, if not exclusively, on loosely-construed philosophical postulates for educating their students. Schools proffer philosophical doctrines (we cannot call them theories) in the absence of intelligence-based design and direct human experience. The way philosophy is currently taught to architects tends to mix political ideology with idiosyncratic and subjective insights into society, and this muddled mess is presented as a theoretical basis for architectural and urban design. This practice is a terribly dangerous mix, as it gives students a perverted and erroneous, if not fraudulent basis for their profession. Students are normally unable to separate what is useful analysis from what is political rhetoric and so learn little or nothing about buildings and cities.
Certain authors on the political left provide a picture of what is wrong with aspects of contemporary society, offering useful critiques from outside the capitalist economic system. Nevertheless, their proposed solutions are the same unworkable utopian dreams that have in the past led to totalitarian states. One stream of philosophy running throughout contemporary architectural education goes back to the Frankfurt School, which introduced “Critical Theory” into philosophy. The essence of this 1930’s movement was to apply extreme anti-traditional prejudices to the new industrial society of the post World-War-I era. The original Marxist authors proposed radical social change through revolution, technology, and the subjection of the individual to collective class structure. They declared tradition to be the enemy of progress, a position that of course included all architectural traditions. Historical notions of beauty were condemned, while art was to be produced henceforth though the negation of universal truths, inspired instead by contradiction, despair, and the shock of human suffering. Schools inherited this prejudiced approach to analyzing built form, in many writings that bear the epithet “critical”. Such texts are not helpful in designing buildings but only in the formation of ideological tenets.
Independent of the written legacy of Critical Theory and the Frankfurt school, the post-war tradition in architecture and the arts has inherited the misdirected anger and desperation of 1930’s European intellectuals. Those individuals were reacting against earlier class oppression while being threatened by the rise of Nazism. After the Second World War, those same intellectuals reacted to the horrors that had just been perpetrated by casting the blame onto traditional society and its humanistic architecture. These extremely powerful emotions survive in a visceral hatred of traditional architectural forms — an indignation that is transmitted to architecture students today through Pavlovian conditioning.
Even though the majority of architecture professors are not overtly political, and even less declared Marxists, architecture schools have been dominated by a philosophy that arose from the radical political left. Critical theory and its architectural derivatives (which represent ideology rather than theory) continue to dictate architectural texts. Students lack sufficient knowledge to recognize when fourth-generation derivative authors talk about architecture using hidden agendas about the supremacy of technology, class struggle, and abolishing traditional society. While this ideological objective is never made explicit, it colors supposedly theoretical expositions and situates itself in the values of students. After all these years, few people have caught onto the original deceit: while pretending to censure the aristocracy, this rhetoric in fact reviled all of popular vernacular architecture, to boost the personal careers of the Bauhaus members. Now the very same system is used to prop up an architectural elite.
Critical Theory has had its most insidious effect on architecture with the spread of the doctrine known as “Critical Regionalism”.

(continua …)

Section of “Intelligence-Based Design: A Sustainable Foundation for Worldwide Architectural Education” by Nikos A. Salingaros & Kenneth G. Masden II, ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, Volume 2, Issue 1 (March 2008), pages 129-188.

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