Architecture of Analogy

Thinking about collective memory as material reality

Posted in Discourse, PhD by Cameron McEwan on May 7, 2013

Typology in architecture gives us an apparatus to study the history of architecture, which can also be understood as a way to examine the collective memory of the city. As can be seen in canonical texts since Vitruvius, such as those by Alberti, Serlio, Palladio, during the Renaissance, to Durand during Enlightenment, Hilberseimer in the early twentieth-century, Rossi in the 1960s and others, we can view the process of architectural history unfolding, treatise to treatise, manual to manual, and manifesto to manifesto. Although not all of these works use the word typology, or type, the concept is implied because each use classification, description, and historical precedent to formulate a position. For example, in De re aedificatoria Alberti distinguished between public and private buildings in the city, assigning the Orders to certain classes of building. Serlio’s books on architecture catalogued buildings from Ancient Rome in plans, elevations and perspectives, before describing the typological-form of temples: circular, square, six-sided, eight-sided, oval and cruciform. Palladio’s Four Books organised the Orders, private buildings in rural and urban settings, then public buildings and, buildings of historical significance. In Durand’s books, the Recueil et Paralléle, and the Précis des leçons d’architecture, the former catalogued existing works of architecture from different cultures and historic periods at the same scale. While the latter was divided into three: on architectural elements, on composition, and on analysis of building types. Hilberseimer’s Groszstadt Architektur was organised into ten chapters with the first two and final describing the urban condition and proposing a response. Those inbetween address in succession the building programmes of the city from residential, commercial, high-rises, halls and theatres, transport, industrial, trade construction.

I have noted these texts because as Rossi wrote in The Architecture of the City, the concept of type became, “the very idea of architecture,” a fact attested to by both practice, he says, and by the treatise. Although in this sketch of a few texts that deal with theories about type, an emphasis is seemingly placed on type as it relates to classification. It should be made clear, however, that the idea of type is a dialectical principle, because it always reacts with, say: form, construction technique, site irregularities, means of production, cultural particularities, history, and also, the autobiography of the architect. Later in The Architecture of the City Rossi discusses the concept of collective memory, via the sociologist Maurice Halbwachs, who wrote that historical memory reaches us through written and visual records. The concept of collective memory and of type are closely interrelated, because collective memory relies on material reality. A material reality which is manifest both in built form and as images in treatise. Built form because buildings witness the evolution of the city. Images because they embody values, experience, ideas. What is important is that type constructs a link with history, and produces transmittable knowledge. Accordingly, architecture communicates its own history through typological ideas.

 

McEwan C (2013) AE Foundation Locus, Montage with plan by Palladio

McEwan C (2013) AE Foundation Locus, Study montage with plan by Palladio [Montage with photographs and CAD drawing]

One of the premises of the AE Foundation is to understand the history of architecture as central to the education and practice of the architect. Undertaken within the framework of the AE Foundation Graduate Programme, the project opposite is for a school in the Lochee part of Dundee. The typological approach has been to distinguish three volumes that articulate three conditions of the site. The tower fronts the street edge and contains the entrance, administration, dining, gym hall, and a nursery. Classrooms are arranged around a courtyard which opens into the school grounds. Between the courtyard and tower is a rectangular volume which holds a library and an art studio. In order to leave and to arrive at the classrooms, children (and teachers) must always pass through the art and library spaces. The spaces of creativity and of knowledge.

 

McEwan C (2013) AE Foundation Locus, Site plan and long section through entrance [CAD line drawing]

McEwan C (2013) AE Foundation Locus, Site plan and long section through entrance [CAD line drawing]

For further information about the AE Foundation, an open and independent forum for the discussion and exposition of architecture, see http://aefoundation.co.uk/

5th Annual Dresden International Doctoral Colloquium

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on May 29, 2011
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5th Annual Dresden International Doctoral Colloquium

Posted in Discourse, PhD by Cameron McEwan on May 29, 2011

”]McEwan, C (2011) North Lindsay Street and The Howff [photographs of scale model]A recent presentation in Dresden, Germany for the 5th Annual Dresden International Doctoral Colloquium offered the opportunity to consolidate current work in progress.

In attendance were Cameron McEwan, Alex Pearson, Jorg Schroeder, Karla Spennrath, Naira Chilingaryan, and others. The panel of critics included Prof. Ralf Weber, Architect and Environmental Psychologist at Dresden University of Technology and Prof. Dr. Alexander Schmidt, Architect and Urban Designer from University of Duisburg, Essen.

Attendees presented work on such topics as: phenomenological concepts of architectural design; digital configurations of urban space; case studies; public art in the city and city edge housing.

This author divided the presentation in two: first an overview of the PhD, then a focus on the conference theme “Aesthetics,” in particular “Urban Aesthetics,” demonstrated through a design project.

Included here is a selection of extracts from the presentation.

North Lindsay Street and The Howff: Work in Progress Part VI An Interim Proposition

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on April 6, 2011
Left looking East; right looking West”]

North Lindsay Street and The Howff: Work in Progress Part IV The Site Plan

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on April 6, 2011
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Temporal Thinking and Serial Form

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on January 28, 2011
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Study for an urban design proposition on North Lindsay Street, Dundee. Freud’s repressed thoughts are superimposed over an historic photograph of Lindsay Street, above which is positioned an unrealised prison complex for Dundee. Seriality is implied as both a critical reflective practice; and formal design operation.

Dissolution of Scale Montage Panels

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on November 1, 2010

McEwan, C. (2010) Dissolution of Scale Montage Panels; with model view

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Argument for Analogy: a poster presentation prepared for a Research Summer School in Aberdeen

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on September 9, 2010

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Analogy is concerned with making correspondences between unlike things; and in doing so liberates the mind, providing a framework to establish measurable connections from a tacit presence. The aim of this design-led PhD is to develop analogy as a critical and creative urban design and research method, in order to advance an approach that has hitherto not been fully elaborated.

A conceit to critique the city as an artefact: Glasgow as Dark City

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on August 4, 2010
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A conceit to critique the city as an artefact: City Plan

Posted in PhD by Cameron McEwan on August 4, 2010
Fragments of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dark City are montaged together from aerial photographs to suggest the urban grain”]
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