The Ethical Function of Architecture

Front Cover
MIT Press, 1998 - Architecture - 403 pages
3 Reviews

Winner of the 8th Annual AIA International Architecture Book Award for CriticismCanarchitecture help us find our place and way in today's complex world? Can it return individuals to awhole, to a world, to a community? Developing Giedionšs claim that contemporary architecture's maintask is to interpret a way of life valid for our time, philosopher Karsten Harries answers thatarchitecture should serve a common ethos. But if architecture is to meet that task, it first has tofree itself from the dominant formalist approach, and get beyond the notion that its purpose is toproduce endless variations of the decorated shed.In a series of cogent and balanced arguments,Harries questions the premises on which architects and theorists have long relied -- premises whichhave contributed to architecture's current identity crisis and marginalization. He first criticizesthe aesthetic approach, focusing on the problems of decoration and ornament. He then turns to thelanguage of architecture. If the main task of architecture is indeed interpretation, in just whatsense can it be said to speak, and what should it be speaking about? Expanding upon suggestions madeby Martin Heidegger, Harries also considers the relationship of building to the idea and meaning ofdwelling.Architecture, Harries observes, has a responsibility to community; but its ethical functionis inevitably also political, He concludes by examining these seemingly paradoxicalfunctions.

  

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Zen and Performance Art course. Read full review

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architecture as it should be. Read full review

Contents

Postmodern Prelude
2
Part One The Decorated Shed 2 The Aesthetic Approach 1
16
The Problem of Decoration
28
The Promise of Ornament
50
The Decorated Shed
70
Part TWO Representation and RePresentation 6 The Language Problem
84
Representation and Symbol
98
Representation and RePresentation
118
The Terror of Time and the Love of Geometry
228
Mold and Ruins
240
Death Love and Building
254
Part Four Architecture and Community 18 Architecture and Building
270
The Publicness of Architecture
284
Grave and Monument
292
The Representation of Life
312
Dreams of Utopia
326

Part Three Space Time and Dwelling 9 Tales of the Origin of Building
136
Building and Dwelling
152
Space and Place
168
The Voices of Space
180
Learning from Two Invisible Houses
202
Building Dwelling and Time
214
Lessons of the Labyrinth
340
The Shape of Modernity and the Future of Architecture
352
Notes
368
Index
396
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Karsten Harries is Professor of Philosophy at Yale University.

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