Constructing Place: Mind and Matter

Constructing Place: Mind and Matter

Constructing Place: Mind and Matter

Constructing Place: Mind and Matter

Synopsis

This book is a cutting edge study examining the attitudes to both nature and the built environment of the designer, the client and the society in which an intervention (be it architecture, landscape design or a piece of art) is made. The legacy of the Modernist view of nature and the environment is also addressed, and the degree to which such ideas continue to impinge on contemporary interventions is assessed.

Excerpt

I am delighted to enthusiastically endorse the publication of this book on a subject so crucial to the current debate about architecture and the environment. It is a debate that is too often confused by the propensity of critics to be trapped by the style wars of novelty and fashion. Few seem to appreciate the depth of design endeavour and understanding that it takes to create pleasure from constructed places. Our expectations are too low, the economic and programmatic goals are mismatched to cost in use and an understanding of the absolute importance of architectural, urban and landscape design as the framework for social interaction. Architecture is beyond all else the most profound mimetic adventure, one of artifice and nature; the utopian and the world of real possibilities; the sacred mirror and its secular reflection. In these chapters, this mimetic drama is played out repeatedly and on the whole is positively accumulative. As a participant in the conference that laid the ground for this book I am aware of the breadth of scholarship that it drew together and the depth of stimuli that it provoked, as a result of which it is entirely appropriate that, rather than remaining in the sphere of personal memory, its cumulative results should be shared.

The authors bring with them a rich diversity of comparative evidence through built precedent and philosophical speculation. Of the former, the creative possibilities of the environment of the workplace are well illustrated in the rather overlooked but seminal headquarters, campus and research and development centre for General Motors, with its echoes of the Finnish landscape and adoption of automotive technology and product design - particularly, externally, in the gasketed windows of the curtain walling and the glazed-brickwork gables. The modernist proto-dwelling is discussed in papers, firstly on Alvar Aalto's profound attempt to bridge the divide between the modern milieu and the natural environment in his Experimental or Play House at Muuratsalo, secondly in the paper on Le Corbusier's unbuilt scheme for La Sainte Baume in which he proposed housing alongside an underground basilica and museum.

The use of precedent also usefully draws on polarities that, juxtaposed, reinforce the case made by individual contributors. One such comparison is that of the empowerment and ensuing creativity illustrated by the freedom to

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