Academic journal article Studies in Sociology of Science

Exploration of Architectural Context from Aesthetics View

Academic journal article Studies in Sociology of Science

Exploration of Architectural Context from Aesthetics View

Article excerpt


The word context was generated from the field of linguistics. It developed within a specific historical category which contains extremely far-ranging contents. In a narrow sense, context can be understood as the language of an article or the connection between each sentence. It is a word that used for limiting language and meaning of an article. As an object, article can be treated as a linear (one-dimensional) form, and context is the expansion before and after the one-dimensional form. Presently, the commonly accepted explanation is that context is the background of certain region (nation, city, scenic zone) which includes physiographic condition, cultural atmosphere, cultural transmission, and social and cultural background.

Therefore, the so called Contextualism is an interpretation of the whole environment, partial characteristics, or the structure. Specific speaking, it is the correlations between squareness, geography, drainage, plants, street pattern, fundamental space structure, locations of buildings seen from the city, architecture style, and architectural complex features (ZHANG, 1993).


The ancient Greek architecture builders had intentionally or unintentionally applied the concept, design principles and methods of the context in their designs and architectures. They had paid great attention to the organic and harmonic contextual concept between human and the nature in architectural environment, and also national tradition and regional features. Thereby, a lot of masterpieces were born from the hands of ancient Greeks and most of them are still highly praised nowadays.

Similarly, in the Renaissance, different times' buildings co-existed harmoniously in the Piazza San Marco of which the construction of the architectural complex lasted about ten centuries. The main buildings of the Piazza San Marco belong to the styles of Byzantium, Gothic, and the renaissance respectively. There are also fusions of different architectural styles. Therefore, the Piazza San Marco is called "the most beautiful parlor of Europe" (Figure 1).


With the end of the World War, all neglected tasks had been undertaken again. In such historical circumstance, modernist architecture started to pursue unconventional or unorthodox trends. Unique performance of designers and newly generated works via exploring new forms of languages had became the main stream of aesthetics in architecture. People of this age thought that everything should be got out of the past. For this reason, behind the language of "creation" only originality is the motive power of creation. However, American architect Robert Venturi first brought out the concept of context in the field of architecture in 1950. He discussed the architectural patterns related contextual tendency by standing at the point of criticizing the modernism.

In late 1980s, people started to have negative attitude toward Contextualism since there was no coordination between many buildings constructed under the Contextualism and current environmental situations and the design of them were also very conservative.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1990s, the social economic system has promptly developed toward globalization. In addition, information technology has also been popularized in recent years. Under this environment, our life and buildings and cities which serve as our containers and places have been changing from time to time. People feel it is not possible to live without history and tradition. It is the reason that the concept of context was rethinking again.


3.1 The Aesthetic Foundation of Context

German psychologist Max Wertheimer and his colleagues set up the Gestalt psychology in early 1920s. …

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