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Thesis in English 2021

The Myths of Architecture

There is a knowledge established and passed on by a community of architects that includes an explanation of the meaning of their world and people in their collective and individual experiences. At some time, exalted by its profession, the closed community creates a certain knowledge expressed in precepts or contained in myths, in acknowledged, undisputed truths. It is worth talking about this.

Vitruvius’ triad. The architectural knowledge contained in the treatise by the Roman has survived for hundreds of years, taken for granted by successive generations of architects and architectural trends. Utility, durability and beauty still seem to be the most important requirements for architectural things. Today it is known that utility can be variable, durability understood individually, and beauty? What is beauty – after Marcel Duchamp?  

Tradition. …it is amazing that one half of mankind searches for salvation in the future, the other half in the past. (Musil). Yet, the present moment is also considered unbearable. The search for architectural inspiration in the past and the enshrinement of these ideas in law is reminiscent of totalitarian systems: the Blut und Boden Architektur slogan and the directives of socialist art in content and national art in the form are reminiscent of those times. The Zakopane architecture seriously turned heads by managing without precepts.

Modernity. One must be absolutely modern, urged Rimbaud, quite a long time ago, (1873). The desire to be modern is an archetype, that is, an irrational imperative deeply rooted in us, a form of insistence whose content changes and remains undefined: it is modern and recognised as such. There is the modern art that, in lyrical ecstasy, identifies with the modern world. (M. Kundera). What was important in architecture was – modernity, futurists, avant-gardes. It is modernity without technique and technology. Today the proposals of those avant-gardes are sometimes realised – we call them Deconstructivism. Artists still long for the avant-gardes, and so do the audiences.

Architecture should decode its purpose. It used to be this way: a house should look like a house, a palace – like a palace, a church – like a church… It seemed that these forms were always recognisable, invariable, timeless. Yet, it turned out that novelties are easily accepted, and – awaited. It is not clear, though, what a cigar factory, or a hypermarket, or – a primary school –  should look like. And these are not the only places for original forms.

Architecture is science. Well, that is not so certain. Undoubtedly, architecture is – knowledge. Professional knowledge; it is gathered by Neufert in ever thicker books containing instructions on how to design an architectural structure in accordance with functional requirements. There are books on the technical solutions of buildings. There are no books with knowledge – on how to create an architectural form. That is why we like to say, and not without pride, that architecture is the art of shaping space. A more humble definition reads: architecture is the play of solids in light. However, every architect must seek an explanation of what architecture is themselves in their soul or mind, being aware of the existence in the course of the history of architecture, where such great artists as Bramante, Michelangelo and Le Corbusier figure prominently. One does not see scientists there, though.

Dariusz Kozłowski