Origins and development of architectural perception
Buhrmann, Helen Marie
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This study aims to demonstrate that the method the human mind uses to structure order has particular significance on the choices made in the creation of architectural form. That the nature of order as conceptualised by man may influence the ultimate base, the Archimedean point of philosophy and in particular how it then concerns architecture. Furthermore, that certain events, situations and choices have influenced the way modern man perceives the order of the universe to reveal itself; which changed philosophical attitudes, with regard to the development of architecture. It appears that two basic means of conceptualising order have occurred in the history of civilisation, namely the aspective and perspective methods of cognition. The very nature of the method man uses to structure order in the process of cognition seems to deter= mine how ultimate reality is perceived, which in turn influences the structure of epistemology and man's general intellectual orientation. The possibility of identifying these two methods of conceptualising order, namely the aspective and perspective views, provides a possible explanation for the confusion, fragmentation and contradiction, which characterises contemporary architecture; and in this manner exposes the reasons for the absence of general standards and criteria, a situation that appears to be unique to our own time, and in direct contrast to the past. To elucidate the nature of perceptual cognition, pertaining to order, extensive reference has been made to the historical roles these two approaches have played in shaping architecture; particularly with reference to concepts concerning the relation= ships of objects and occurrences in time and space. Furthermore, this study has led to the necessity of investigating how ideas, events and choices in recent history have interacted with each other and succeeded in establishing a vastly different culture, that gave a new structure to society, compared to historical precedent. This situation appears to have affected the way man views his world; which therefore became manifested in the assumption architects have made in the formation of their concepts pertaining to architectural theories and ideologies. This field of study may appear to elude precision, as concepts are seldom clear or precise with respect to artistic creativity. Often men may work with assumptions which, when rendered articulate, are seen to be conflicting; or it may occur that concepts and ideas are often active in practice long before they are identified in writing by theorists. Furthermore, theories and ideologies contemporary architects have proposed, appear to be at variance with the architecture they have designed in practice. In planning this investigation concerning the ordered structure of man's cognition and its influence upon architecture, the author has not merely been guided by academic or historical interest, but has been concerned with contemporary reference; thus giving brief historical portraits of certain key concepts which illustrate the vicissitudes of the aspective and perspect= ive in our Western culture. Furthermore, setting the ideas and values pertaining to the aspective over and against those related to the perspective, and in this manner attempting to elucidate and pinpoint that which may be lacking in the con= temporary situation. In order to shed more light on the apparent failure of Modern Architecture to provide objective values and meanings to the built environment, a particular function archi= tecture filled so adequately in the past, particular attention has been given to the value-structure and the related methods of decision-making in architectural design. Thus this thesis seeks to contribute some measure of clarification of, and insight into, this phenomenon, by postulating a new basic premise that allows a general investigation of the factors that have contributed to the present situation in architecture. All human activities could be covered in a study of this nature, which has made it necessary to confine the investigation to a field more directly relevant to architecture, although in doing so, certain factors excluded could prove fruitful in a more detailed study.