Nature and Place - Architecture & Landscape

Nature and Place
Peter Grimes
opera by Benjamin Britten and Montagu Slater, 1945
Grimes, since you’re a lonely soul
Born to blocks and spars and ropes
Why not try the wider sea
With merchantman or privateer?
Peter: I am a native, rooted here.
Balstrode: Rooted by what?
Peter: By familiar fields,
Marsh and sand,
Ordinary streets,
Prevailing wind
Bill Brandt,
Aldeburgh Beach
‘I am firmly rooted
in this glorious
country. And I
proved this to
myself when I once
tried to live
somewhere else.’
Benjamin Britten
Alexander Pope, An Epistle to Lord Burlington, 1731
Joseph Wright of Derby, Sir Brooke Boothby, 1780
Christian Norberg-Schultz, Groves
Christian Norberg-Schultz, Dwelling in the Nordic
Today man is mainly educated in pseudo-analytic
thinking, and his knowledge consists of so-called
“facts”. His life, however, is becoming ever more
meaningless, and ever more he understands that his
“merits” do not count If he is not able to “dwell
poetically”. “Education through Art” is therefore more
needed than ever before, and the work of art which
above all ought to serve as the basis for our education
is the place which gives us our identity. Only when
understanding our place, we may be able to participate
creatively and contribute to its history.
Christian Norberg-Schultz, conclusion to Genius Loci
‘Northmens thing made southfolks place’
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 1939
‘Architecture need do no more, nor should it ever do
less, than assist man’s homecoming.’
Aldo van Eyck
Critical Regionalism
‘How to become modern and return to sources; how to
revive an old, dormant civilization and take part in
universal civilization.’ Paul Ricoeur
‘The fundamental strategy of Critical Regionalism is to
mediate the impact of universal civilization with
elements derived indirectly from the peculiarities of a
particular place. It is clear from the above that Critical
Regionalism depends upon maintaining a high level of
critical self-consciousness. It may find its governing
inspiration in such things as the range and quality of
the local light, or in a tectonic derived from a peculiar
structural mode, or in the topography of a given site.’
Kenneth Frampton, ‘Towards a Critical Regionalism:
Six points for an architecture of resistance.’ 1985
Exhibition just
opened at Barbican
Art Gallery
Alvar Aalto,
Villa Mairea, 1938
Alvar and Elissa Aalto, summer house at Muratsalo, 1952-53
Pallasmaa, chapter titles
Pallasmaa, ‘From
Metaphorical to
Today I cannot imagine any other desirable view of the future than
an ecologically adapted form of life where architecture returns o its
early, biologically-derived Functionalist ideals. This architecture
must again take root in its cultural and regional soil; it could be
called Ecological Functionalism. … My understanding of this view
implies a paradoxical task for architecture to become more primitive
and more refined at the same time; more primitive in terms of
meeting the most fundamental human needs with an economy of
expression and mediating man’s relation to the world in an equally
fundamental and literal way – and more sophisticated, in terms of
adapting to the cyclic systems of nature, both in terms of matter
and energy. Ecological architecture also implies a view of building
more as a process than a product. It suggests a new awareness of
time – architectural time and human time – in terms of recycling
and responsibility exceeding the scope of individual life.’ p.189
Essays 1984-1994
J. B. Jackson,
‘A Sense of
Time, a Sense of
Place’ (title
Critical Studies
approach to place:
Cultural geography
‘Constable said he had deliberately given The
Cornfield more ‘eye-salve’ than was usual with his
Suffolk pictures, to make it appeal to public taste for
the Picturesque. Various features which would have
irritated local countrymen – a dead tree, a broken
gate, a neglected flock of sheep – were designed to
soothe urban tourist tastes.’ Stephen Daniels
Patrick Keiller, Robinson
in Space, 1999 book of
1997 film
‘The provincial feel of
England belies the UK’s
status as one of the
most internationalised,
deregulated economies
in the developed world.’
‘There are people who do not like a place because it is
associated with some ominous moment in their lives;
others attribute an auspicious character to a place. All
these experiences, their sum, constitute the city. It is in
this sense that we must judge the quality of a space –
a notion that may be extremely difficult for our modern
sensibility. This was the sense in which the ancients
consecrated a place, and it presupposes a type of
analysis far more profound than the simplistic sort
offered by certain psychological interpretations that
rely only on the legibility of form.’ Aldo Rossi, The
Architecture of the City, 1966
Ecocriticism, 2000
‘For the first time it is
possible to see both the
continuity and the variety of
the traditions in which
‘green thinking’ has
emerged within literary
culture.’ Jonathan Bate
‘It isn’t language that has a
hole in its ozone layer’ Kate
Peter Barry, Beginning Theory, 1995 (2002)
Architecture’s ecocriticism?
‘Out of these views, of sympathy, of
awe, of the usefulness of nature,
comes slowly the attitude that we
now call green or ecologically
aware. Present in thoughts and
deeds a hundred or more years ago,
it has only in the last few years
assumed centre stage. Many have
contributed to it, some of whom in
architecure at least have long been
seen as irrelevant and backward
Terry Anderson in Idaho, from Farmer, Green Shift
‘In recent times, the
architecture/nature discussion has
encouraged a dual response:
architects have built in the image of
nature – a token environmentalism –
while environmentalists have
focussed too narrowly on the
technologies of ecology and
sustainability, invariably without
paying sufficient attention to spatial
and visual issues. In this book, Hagan
argues for a new relationship
between architecture and nature, a
contract that renegotiates the tension
between environmental processes
and their formal consequences.’
Mohsen Mostafavi
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