Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Theory of Architecture: Nikos A. Salingaros (2006)


Nikos A. Salingaros
with contributions by
Michael W. Mehaffy, Terry M. Mikiten, Debora M. Tejada, and Hing-Sing Yu.

ISBN 3-937954-07-4

Copyright 2006, Nikos A. Salingaros & UMBAU VERLAG, Solingen

Link to the book site

Quote on front cover by Kenneth G. Masden II:
With the new-found capacity of information handling systems, science is revealing truths about our world that were heretofore incalculable. From within this new body of knowledge we can better explain how the world around us works. In this book Dr. Salingaros answers a series of age-old questions about how we operate within the built environment, revealing the underlying structure of what is good architecture. His book gives insight and direction that can lead us to build a better place. For those among us, i.e. students, professors and practicing architects, who are seeking a more real manner in which to conceive of an construct architecture, I would recommend not one but two or even three thorough readings, without ideological prejudice, of: Nikos A. Salingaros A Theory Of Architecture .
'A Theory of Architecture demonstrates how mathematics and the social sciences offer keys to designing a humane architecture. In this brilliant tome Salingaros explains why many modern buildings are neither beautiful nor harmonious and, alternatively, how architects and patrons can employ scale, materials, and mathematical logic to design structures which are exciting, nourishing, and visually delightful. Anyone who is interested in how architecture and culture are intimately linked should put this on their reading list.' – Duncan G. Stroik.

'In the future this work, along with Christopher Alexander's, will be standard texts for Architecture 101. This book has been handled with great care to help its readers understand the complex issues while at the same time making it accessible to the largest potential audience. It clearly articulates how we have arrived at a modern world tendency away from living structure and toward non-living structure. I feel fortunate to live in a time that I believe will be the beginning of a great sea change toward living structure and a more wholesome environment. I thank Dr. Salingaros for his efforts toward that movement.' – Dean A. Dykstra.
'In a sane world, Prof. Salingaros would be sitting on architecture-prize and architecture-school boards, and would be fending off all-too-frequent requests from major magazines and newspapers for his opinion, insights and judgment.' – Michael Blowhard.
'This book is of great value to architectural educators. It helps them correct some of the misconceptions inherited in architectural education:

Science as a Body of Knowledge versus Science as a Method of Exploration: When teaching any body of knowledge, educators tend to present it as a body of facts and theories and as a process of scientific criticism. The processes that led up to this product are always hidden and internalized. There should be a distinction between the types of knowledge resulting from research in architecture and students should be made aware of them and experience them as well. First, knowledge that results from research that seeks to understand the future through a better understanding of the past; research that tests accepted ideas. Second, knowledge that results from research that develops new hypotheses and visions; research that probes new ideas and principles which will shape the future.

Learning Theories about the Phenomena versus Getting the Feel of the Behavior of the Phenomena: Knowledge is usually presented to students in a retrospective way where abstract and symbolic generalizations used to describe research results do not convey the feel of the behavior of the phenomena they describe; the late Donald Schon emphasized this view in 1988. The term retrospective here means extensive exhibition of the performance of the work of an architect over time. In essence, the analysis of precedents as part of the curriculum should be introduced. How projects were created and in what context, what was the client nature and intentions, how the project was delivered, and how construction was undertaken are integral parts of learning. The story telling teaching mode carried out by educators in lecture and theory courses tends to ignore these issues.

Rather than giving students ready made interpretations about the work of star architects, this book offers a deeper insight into the understanding of the true essence of architecture. This is a marvelous piece and I suggest it to architectural educators as an excellent textbook for theory courses introduced in both undergraduate and graduate programs of architecture worldwide.' - Ashraf Salama.

Architecture-Urbanism is dedicated to a) those who are interested in creating livable and sustainable environments and buildings that meet socio-cultural and socio-behavioral needs of people, environments that are responsive to historical, traditional and physical constraints, b) to those who are interested in finding panacea for the ills of our globalized world, and c) to those who are interested in regaining what cultures and societies have lost by the acts of architects. ____________________________________________________________________________