architecture between intellectual and sensory reason:
regarding semiotics

The Serbian Architecture Journal presents essays that were introduced and discussed in September 2017 during the 2nd summer school, Architecture and Philosophy, at the Interuniversity Center in Dubrovnik. The summer school takes place annually for one week and dedicates itself to the topic of architecture and philosophy. In recent years, philosophy has moved more and more toward the center of debates on architecture. This is directly related to social transformation processes, which raise questions about new life models, urban densification, sustainability, and ethical questions. Today a change in basic values in architecture and urban contexts is taking place that has not been observed since the debates of modern urban planning in the 1950’s.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the combination of philosophy and architecture is by no means new; on the contrary, throughout the history of philosophy, architecture has been widely referred to as a metaphor for conscious action and logical construction. In the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, the work of the master builder served as a metaphor for his philosophy of action, while in his Transcendental Doctrine of Method, Immanuel Kant held that “architectonics is the art of systems”. Friedrich Nietzsche also used a variety of architectural metaphors and spoke of the “shaking tower of concepts”,¹ of the “infinitely complicated conceptual dome”² and of the “Tower of Science”.³ In 1888, the city of Turin came to the center of his attention. Architecture and the city was the trigger of the bodily phenomenological turn4 of his philosophical system.

But also conversely, philosophy is an integral part of architecture. If architecture is the cultural practice that humans use to create an environment that meets their constant as well as changing needs, then every architectural practice is always philosophical. The architect is confronted with the question of what is appropriate for human life. What does this kind of architecture look like? What materials, shapes and figures does it consist of? Through this, the humanist claim of architecture is revealed. And yet, appropriateness can be articulated in different ways. What is considered reasonable for human life may be an igloo in Alaska or a bamboo hut in Indonesia. It may be a Wilhelminian style villa or even a Komunalka in Moscow in the 1930’s. Even a bunker can be fit for human survival in times of war. With appropriateness, architecture touches on questions of ethics, and becomes philosophical.

[…]

These essays explore and redefine the relationship of philosophy to the scientific discourse of architectural theory and history. In this context, it is true that the philosophy of architecture is not just something on the side of architecture. On the contrary, it is a question of tracing the philosophical content of architecture, that is, of architecture as a medium of philosophy or of architecture as a specific philosophical practice. Thus, what is the specific philosophical content of architecture? What are the requirements and conditions that are laid out by and come from architecture?

1 Friedrich Nietzsche (1999), “Ueber Wahrheit und Lüge im aussermoralischen Sinne,” in Ders., Kritische Studienausgabe, Bd. 1, hrsg. von Giorgio Colli u. Mazzino Montinari, München 1999, S. 882.  2 Nietzsche, “Ueber Wahrheit und Lüge im aussermoralischen Sinne” (Anm. 3), S. 882.   3 Ebd., S. 886.

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