“… the unexamined life is not worth living. ”
“We shape our buildings,and afterwards,they shape us. ”
Since the fourth century BC, Socrates's challenge to complacency, self-satisfaction, and comfort with custom has established the standards to be met in ethical life. He proposed that we peel away the cloaks of convention and conventional wisdom and look into the heart of issues in order to live life fully, to live well, that is: to live ethically. In modern times, Winston Churchill, speaking to Parliament in 1943 about the reconstruction of the House of Commons, touched upon two of the central essences of architecture: that it is an act of human creation, and that once built, it conditions our existence—architecture is cultural mores physically constructed. Socrates's challenge and Churchill's insight ripple through Ethics and the Practice of Architecture. For us, the practices of architecture, architects' capabilities to shape the environment, the motives behind our architectural pursuits, and our conduct as professionals are inseparable— and they are essentially: ethical!
Bringing together the Socratic question and Churchillian observation, this book is about ethics and architecture, or rather architectural ethics. It is less about “ethics and architecture” as distinct and separate domains than it is about the ethics that are embedded in architecture and that are special to it: architecture/ethics as a unity, a nexus.
During the time that we were working on this book, at one point or another friends, colleagues, professional acquaintances,