Monday, November 16, 2009

Venturi Effect - acquisition of Architectural Knowledge in situ


The poster at Constructing Knowledge by New York based architect and teacher at New Jersey Institute of Technology Matt Burgermaster discusses a not so simple footnote in the 1977 2nd edition of Robert Venturi’s seminal book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture:

“I have visited  Giovanni Michelucci’s Church of the Autostrada since writing these words, and I now realize it is an extremely beautiful and effective building. I am therefore sorry I made this unsympathetic comparison” p. 19.

In the book two churches by Alvar Aalto and Giovanni Michelucci are compared, categorized and judged. The first appointed attributes of ‘complexity’ and ‘contradiction’ as being positive, the latter presented as an anti-thesis. The footnote makes it obvious that Venturi had visited Michelucci’s church only for the first time between the two editions of the book. The experience of the church made him change a major point in the book.

Burgermaster writes: “This essay appropriates Venturi’s revision as evidence of a significant, but often overlooked aspect of how architectural knowledge is constructed, evaluated, represented, and distributed. It focuses on the acquisition of knowledge in situ as a disciplinary practice that has historically used observation-based methods of research to evidence its claims but has rarely recognized the subjectivity in the representation of this evidence.”

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