The book addresses the issue of reversibility of the discipline of architectural design. It is based on the assumption that architectural thinking is complex and unstable. The study spans the extreme ends of architectural thought. On one hand, it aims at describing the reversibility of architecture and, on the other hand, it critically reconsiders some “fundamentals” of architectural thought. Indeed, despite the apology of instability, and praise for reversibility the book tries to focus on some archetypical “thinking tools” and the way they have been used within architectural theory. Principles, rules, abstraction as well as type and scheme are traced in their complex itineraries within architectural design especially in their early development in classical theories culminating in the Renaissance Neoplatonism. The impact of Cartesian thinking is taken into account as far as it acted to reverse architecture leading it towards its contemporary pragmatic and instrumental status. Within this frame a special place is given to the key notion of “construction” which ties together the above mentioned thinking tools and has been in certain cases at the core of architectural design. The role of “construction” and, more specifically “logical construction,” within architectural knowledge is analyzed in Giorgio Grassi, with reference to thinkers like Descartes, Kant and Foucault. To achieve this aim some of the realms that both Foucault and Grassi have “inhabited” are considered in detail, namely taxonomies and handbooks. Other topics like the use of wood, clothing, landscape, secularization help to broaden the problematic field. The book owes much to Heideggerian thought. Yet it is vaguely permeated by an underlying discomfort with the load of that tradition. To some of the conservative and pessimistic views brought about by that line of thought, these writings attempt to substitute a more positive attitude.
Michele Sbacchi is associate professor of Architectural Design at Palermo University. Habilitated as full professor. MPhil, Cambridge University (Joseph Rykwert supervisor). PhD, University of Naples. Research assistant of Rykwert at Penn. Post-doc at Palermo. Design workshops in Auckland, IUAV, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Jyväskylä. Critic at RCA, London and ETSAB, Barcelona. He published eight books (two edited). Practises as architect with prizes in competitions.
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