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ACHARYA NRV SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, BENGALURU

Subject: Theory of Architectue-II


Sub. Teacher: Ar.Seema Anil

Class: 6th semester

Syllabus outline:
Contribution to architectural thought by Kenneth Frampton, Christopher Alexander, Geoffrey
Broadbent, Amos Rapoport.

KENNETH FRAMPTON:
Kenneth Frampton is a British architect, critic, historian and the Professor of Architecture at the
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, New
York.
Frampton is well known for his writing on twentieth-century architecture. His books include
Modern Architecture: A Critical History (1980; revised 1985, 1992 and 2007) and Studies in
Tectonic Culture (1995).
Frampton achieved great prominence (and influence) in architectural education with his essay
"Towards a Critical Regionalism" (1983). Frampton's own position attempts to defend a
version of modernism that looks to either critical regionalism or a 'momentary' understanding
of the autonomy of architectural practice in terms of its own concerns with form and tectonics
which cannot be reduced to economics.
Critical regionalism is an approach to architecture that strives to counter placelessness and lack
of identity in modem architecture by using the building's geographical context. The term
"critical regionalism" was first used by the architectural theorists Alexander Tzonis and Liane
Lefaivre and, with a slightly different meaning, by the historian theorist Kenneth Frampton.
Critical regionalism is not regionalism in the sense of vernacular architecture, but is, on the
contrary, an avant gardist, modernist approach, but one that starts from the premises of local or
regional architecture. The idea of critical regionalism emerged at a time during the early 1980s
when Postmodem architecture, itself a reaction to Modernist architecture, was at its height.
However, the writer most associated with Critical Regionalism, Kenneth Frampton, was in fact
critical towards postmodernism.
In "Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six points for an architecture of resistance, Frampton
recalls Paul Ricoeur's how to become modern and to return to sources; how to revive an old,
dormant civilization and take part in universal civilization". According to Frampton's proposal,
critical regionalism should adopt modern architecture, critically, for its universal progressive
qualities but at the same time value should be placed on the geographical context of the
building.

Frampton says, should be on topography, climate, light; on tectonic form rather than on
scenography (i.e. painting theatrical scenery) and should be on the sense of touch rather than visual
sense. Frampton draws on phenomenology for his argument.
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Two examples Frampton briefly discusses are Jern Utzon and Alvar Aalto. In Frampton's view,
Utzon's Bagsveerd Church (1973-6), near Copenhagen is a self-conscious synthesis between
universal civilization and world culture. This is revealed by the rational, modular, neutral and
economic, partly prefabricated concrete outer shell (i.e. universal civilization) versus the speciallydesigned, 'uneconomic', organic, reinforced concrete shell of the interior, signifying with its
manipulation of light sacred space and 'multiple cross-cultural references', which Frampton sees no
precedent for in Western culture, but rather in the Chinese pagoda roof (i.e. world culture).
In the case of Aalto, Frampton discusses the red brick Saynatsalo Town Hall (1952), where, he argues,
there is a resistance to universal technology and vision which is effected by using the tactile qualities
of the building's materials. He notes, for instance, feeling the contrast between the friction of the brick
surface of the stairs and the springy wooden floor in the council chamber.

CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDER:
Christopher Wolfgang Alexander, Austrian Architect, is a registered architect noted for his theories
about design, and for more than 200 building projects in California, Japan, Mexico and around the
world. Reasoning that users know more about the buildings they need than any architect could, he
produced and validated a "pattern language" designed to empower anyone to design and build at any
scale.

What is a pattern?
When a designer is designing something (whether it is a house or a computer program or a lamp), they
must make many decisions about how to solve problems. A single problem is documented with its
typical place (the syntax), and use (the grammarjwith the most common and recognized good solution
seen in the wild, like the examples seen in dictionaries. Each such entry is a single design pattern.
Each pattern has a name, a descriptive entry, and some cross- references, much like a dictionary entry.
A documented pattern should explain why that solution is good in the pattern's contexts.

Many patterns form a language ...


Just as words must have grammatical and semantic relationships to each other in order to make a
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spoken language useful, design patterns must be related to each other in position and utility order
to form a pattern language. Alexander's work describes a process of decomposition, in which the
designer has a problem (perhaps a commercial assignment), selects a solution, then discovers
new, smaller problems resulting from the larger solution.
The actual organizational structure (hierarchical, iterative, etc.) is left to the discretion of the
designer, depending on the problem. This explicitly lets a designer explore a design, starting
from some small part. When this happens, it's common for a designer to realize that the problem
is actually part of a larger solution. At this point, the design almost always becomes a better
design.
In the language, therefore, each pattern has to indicate its relationships to other patterns and to
the language as a whole. This gives the designer using the language a great deal of guidance
about the related problems that must be solved.
A pattern language, a term coined by architect Christopher Alexander, is a structured method of
describing good design practices within a field of expertise. Advocates of this design approach
claim that ordinary people can use it to successfully solve very large, complex design problems.
Like all languages, a pattern language has vocabulary, syntax, and grammar; but a pattern
language is applied to some complex activity other than communication .::"
In pattern languages used for design, the parts break down in this way:
The language description, the vocabulary, is a collection of named, described solutions to
problems in a field of interest. These are called "design patterns." So, for example, the language
for architecture would describe items like: settlements, buildings, rooms, windows, latches, etc.
Each solution includes "syntax," a description that shows where the solution fits in a larger, more
comprehensive or more abstract design. This automatically links the solution into a web of other
needed solutions. For example, rooms have ways to get light, and ways to get people in and out.
The solution includes "grammar" that describes how the solution solves a problem-on gets a
benefit. So, if the benefit is not needed, the solution is not used. Perhaps that part of the design
can be left empty to save money or other resources. So, if people do not need to wait to enter a
room, instead of a waiting room, perhaps you can use a simple doorway.
In the language description, the grammar and syntax cross index (often with a literal alphabetic
index of pattern names) to other named solutions, so the designer can quickly think from one
solution to related, needed solutions, and document them in a logical way. In Alexander's book,
the patterns are in decreasing order by size, with a separate alphabetic index.
The web of relationships in the index of the language allows for many different paths through the
design process. This simplifies the designer's life, because the design process can start from any
part of the problem that the designer understands, and work toward the unknown parts. At the
same time, if the pattern language has worked well for many projects, there is reason to believe
that even though the designer may not completely understand the design problems at first, the
process will complete, and the resulting design will be usable. For example, skiers coming inside
will need to shed snow and store equipment. The messy snow and boot cleaners should stay
outside. The equipment needs care, so the racks should be inside. etc.
It really is a language: There is even an analogy to spelling or phonology, in the
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documentation standards for the designs and patterns. Without these, the people building
the design won't be able to read the design.
AMOS RAPOPORT:
Amos Rapoport is the author of the book House, Form & Culture - which talks about how
culture, human behavior, and the environment affect house form. He is one of the founders
of the field of Environment-Behavior Studies (EBS). His work has focused mainly on the
role of cultural variables, cross-cultural studies, and theory development and synthesis. In
addition to House, Form, and Culture he is the author of three other books and nearly 200
articles, papers, and chapters, as well as editor or co-editor of four books.
Rapoport details his theory, which he summarizes as: My basic hypothesis, then, is that house
form is not simply the result of physical forces or any single casual factor, but is the
consequence of a-whole range of socio-cultural factors seen in their broadest terms. Rapoport's
book is the direct opposite of traditional patterns of study in architectural theory and history
where efforts 'have always been on monuments and "high style" buildings of various
civilizations.
The foundation of the book was laid on the intellectual debate of the meaning and characteristics
of folk, primitive, and vernacular buildings on one side, and modern buildings on the otherpossibly even forming a continuum. The book linked behavior and form, and theorized that built
form has influence on behaviour, not in a causal manner but in the way of "coincidences."
Rapoport debunked the many "alternative theories of house form" by refuting the rather extreme
explanation and weak foundation of architecture that "climate and the need for shelter" determine
the form of dwellings. His balanced view on the impact of climate on house form is
commendable; after giving enough evidence on the supremacy of culture over climate in
determining house form, he submitted that "it is a characteristic of primitive and vernacular
buildings that they typically respond to climate very well."

GEOFFREY BROADBENT:
Whoever does the design, however democratic the procedures by which a design is achieved,
the finished building actually will display certain characteristics which were outlined by Hillier,
Musgrove and O'Sullivan.
Any building whether we like it or not, and whether the designer(s) intend(s) it to or not, will:1. Enclose spaces for certain human purposes. The actual division of spaces may facilitate or
inhibit specific human activities, it may also provide security.
2. Modify the external climate thus providing conditions in which human beings may be more or
less comfortable. in visual, thermal and actual terms.
3. Act as a system of signs or symbols into which people may read meanings
4. Modify the values of the materials from which it is built, the land on which it stands and
possibly of the adjacent properties.
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It may be, however, that the nearest we shall ever get to a "theory" of architecture will be a theory
of design-behavior which predicts - with probabilities - the ways in which architects, or anyone
else who tries to generate 3-dimensional built form will act whilst they are actually trying to
design.
Certain mechanisms to have been used, in this context, by designers throughout history; starting
long before there were any professional architects have been summarized as four different modes
- Pragmatic, Iconic, Canonic and Analogic.
PRAGMATIC DESIGN:
Materials are used, by trial-and-error, until a form emerges which seems to serve the designers'
purpose. A mammoth hunter's tent excavated at Pushkari "near Novgorod-Seversk made from the
available building materials: some rather spindly trees, some small stones and after that the
bones, tusks and skins of the mammoths; all that was left after the meat had been eaten. The site,
as excavated, suggested that the mammoth hunters had built three interlocking tepee-like frames
from the available timbers and perhaps from the mammoth tusks. They had then laid mammoth
skins over this framework, weighting down the edges with stones and the bones. So the most
improbable of materials were used to form a very effective shelter, the available resources were
allowed to determine the form We still tend to use this mode of designing whenever we have to
use new materials, as in the case, say, of plastic air houses and suspension structures.

ICONIC DESIGN:

The members of a particular culture share a fixed mental image of what the design should be
"like". Often encouraged in "primitive" cultures by legend, tradition, work-songs which describe
the design process by the mutual adaption which has taken place between ways of life and
building form as with the Eskimo's igloo - and by the conventions of craftsmanship which take
a long time to learn but,
once learned, are difficult
to abandon. We still set
up icons - such as
Bunshaft's Lever House
in New York (1952)
which became the fixed
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mental image for a generation of architects and clients as to what office buildings should be like.
User-participation is perhaps the most potent mechanism of all for the repetition of design icons.
CANONIC DESIGN:
The grids and axes of these early design drawings took on a life of their own; it became clear that
the second-rate artists could emulate the work of a master by abstracting from it the underlying
systems of proportion. Once this view had been formed - that art and design could be
underpinned by abstract proportional systems - it received a massive boost from the Greek
geometers (Pythagoras) and Classical philosophers (Plato, etc.) who believed that the universe
itself was constructed of cubes, tetrahedra, icosahedra and dodecahedra and that these in turn
were made up of triangles. The Platonic triangles underlay medieval Gothic design. Whilst much
20th century design has been based on similar precepts; it is the basis of all modular systems,
dimensional co-ordination, and prefabricated systems building and so on. New mathematical
techniques and computer aids are likely to boost even further this interest in the abstract
Geometry of Environment.

ANALOGIC DESIGN:
The drawing of analogies - usually visual - into the solution of one's design problems. This
seems to have started with designing the Step Pyramid complex at Sakkara; given the problem of
building, for the first time, in large blocks of stone, he drew visual analogies with existing brick
tomb-forms, timber-framed and reed-mat houses, for the overall building forms, with lotus buds
or flowers and snakes heads for the decoration, and so on.

Analogy still seems to be the mechanism of "creative" architecture, as with Wright's use of water lily
forms in the Johnson Wax factory office (1936), his own hands at prayer in the Madison, Wisconsin
Chapel (1950) not tomention Le Corbusier's crab- shell roof of Ronchamp.
Much 20th century architecture has drawn on painting and sculpture as sources of analogies,
(Constructivism, Purism, de Stijl); but analogies can also be drawn with ones own body (personal
analogy) and with abstract, philosophical concepts (as in the present preoccupation with
indeterminacy). Analogical design requires the use of some medium such as a drawing, for
translating the original into its new form. The first Egyptian design drawings date from the same
period as Imhotep's pyramid complex and the drawing itself begins to suggest possibilities to the
designer. He sets up grids and/or axes to make -sure that his drawing will fit on to the available
surface; these "suggest" regularities - symmetries and rhythms - which had not appeared 'previously
in architecture. Any design analogue - a drawing, model, or even a computer program, will "take
over" from the designers and influence the way they design.

CONCLUSION:
The first three, pragmatic, iconic and canonical design can be readily associated with pre-modern
design, but all describe actions one could see modern architects apply. Pragmatic ("try it and see")
design commonly occurs on building sites; eg. Where and when inadequacies in documentation
become evident and immediate action is necessary to avoid delays and claims. Residential and
commercial property developers routinely instruct consultants, including architects, to apply iconic
and canonic principles; eg. to match floor areas, standard layouts, fittings and finishes to a target
purchaser model identified through market research. However, in analogical design, when the
designer shapes and develops a representation of a design, or variations of it in detail, before making a
physical embodiment, it is the most familiar and dominant paradigm. It is the method student
designers are taught-to-apply, almost universally.
The actions of analogical design, such as drawing, model making or using CAD, typify what
many people would identify as the outward actions of designing. Recent developments of2D and
3D design computing software have magnified the power of analogical approaches by enabling
almost any aspect of a design to be modeled, throughout its life cycle.
A more process oriented form of classification than Broadbent's, divides designing into;

v. Routine
vi. Innovative
vii. Creative.
Routine design: is applied to designing which proceeds from existing prototypes. This would
include iconic design.
Innovative design: refers to designing which also proceeds from existing prototypes, but with the
freedom to change the ranges of prototype variables. This could include rule based canonic design.
Eg. Where a designer adopts traditional forms but changes their proportions. The typical result of
innovative design, by this definition, has a familiar structure but novel appearance because the values
of the defining variables are unfamiliar.
Creative design: is distinguished from the first two by the use of new variables, producing new types
and providing the capacity to produce a paradigm shift. Creative design and analogical design can
themselves be regarded as analogous when they involve transfer and adaptation of prototypes or an
analog medium Innovative and creative designs are two forms of non-routine design.