- Discussions of green design and sustainable architecture have become common in the architectural profession, but not in philosophy. This is unfortunate, as philosophers could make important contributions to this discussion, given that these terms rife with ambiguities and that the relationships between these ideas and the traditional Vitruvian values of architecture (beauty, structure, and utility) are unclear. In a recent article, Tom Spector addresses some of these issues to assess whether the notion of sustainability could underpin an entire design philosophy. He concludes that it cannot. I argue that Spector’s arguments are flawed. After discussing the history of green design, I connect a number of theories in the new field of environmental aesthetics to the question of architectural aesthetics to show how sustainability might inform architecture.
Christophe Van Gerrewey: Christian Norberg-Schulz (1926-2000): Architecture Protected by Phenomenology
- The Norwegian historian Christian Norberg-Schulz (1926-2000) is held responsible, in general, for introducing phenomenological methods and concepts into the field of architecture theory, criticism and history. This article examines his legacy and his writings by focusing on one text on the Pyramide-Le-Perthus, built in France in 1976 by the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill. In an exemplary way, this text shows how Norberg-Schulz used phenomenology not to ‘experience’ contemporary architecture, but rather to protect it from the problems of the modern world. Norberg-Schulz wrote that architecture should “tell us what being in the world implies,” but the world he constructed by means of a phenomenological reading of architecture, proves to be very narrow and almost absurd.
- May Day was the most popular holiday of the two major wings of the German labor movement, Social Democratic and Communist, during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). While the political importance and ideological significance of May Day celebrations for the German labor movement have been extensively researched, its geographicity, the inherently spatialized and spatializing moment of lived experience, as well as the content of that geographicity have been relatively neglected. Examining working-class May Day celebrations in a specific built environment like the Lustgarten permits detailed consideration of the ways that the festive has involved spatializing and spatialized moments of lived experience which were part of the spatial reproduction of class relations and class experiences at the local level in Berlin in the Weimar Republic.
- Edward S. Casey offers a phenomenology of memory and imagination in his book Spirit and Soul, which provides a unique opportunity for thinking about the very ethereal and aqueous activity of sailing. Imagination and memory are as much a part of everyday life as most forms of mentation; but sailing, as much as it is a physical activity, is just as much a suitable analogy for engaging with these particular psychic forms. In their collaboration, memory and imagination are a means for balancing the sails with the wind just as much as they provide equilibrium to the temporal expanse of conscious unification. But perhaps most importantly, in their spiritual and soulful employment, imagination and memory provide a place and a home for dwelling and sailing.
- Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) are unique spaces that defy materialist interpretations of space and place. In drawing upon Edward Soja’s work of spatiality, CVEs can be considered as third space, a space that has as much relevance as that typified by our physical, or ‘real,’ existence. Virtual space undermines the rigid polemic of the ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ by revealing lived experience as a combination of both real and imagined experience. The virtual illuminates experience as a relativist combination of perception and interpretation that inhabits both the corporeal and the virtual realms. Using the example of Second Life’s Lost Gardens of Apollo this article will illuminate the fluidity of real and imagined place through an environment of rich visual experience. In addition, such spaces will be discussed as places of potential social and political reconfiguration by challenging the traditional socio-cultural and historical aspects of space.
- In the August riots in England 2011, web sites provided up-to-date access to bare witness to the unsettling events that conveyed the essence of contemporary war and crisis reporting. These characteristics include events happening in real-time, dramatic accounts, continuous coverage and multimedia footage, with also the inclusion of eyewitness stories and images. The rhetoric of war was used and dramatic photographs played a pivotal role in conveying the civil unrest as a ‘war zone.’ Significantly, the local environment becomes the place for potential trauma, but also a space where the spectacle of violence, destruction, as well as community spirit are foregrounded. This article examines the background to the riots and the vernacular of war photography and the cultural landscape civil unrest and urban space.
- One significant way in which place is represented is through books based on old photographs and postcards. Recontextualised in such books, historical photos can be used to create mesmeric myths about a locality. This paper explores the genre through four works about areas in Sheffield, a city in the north of England. The book for the well to do suburb, Crosspool, constructs a quaint rural past. Two representations of a working-class district are perhaps a little more successful in recovering a personally significant past. The history of a local steel firm avoids issues of social conflict and exploitation by adopting a documentary tone. The genre trades on the active interest of seeing familiar scenes as they were in the past, but fails to develop interpretative strategies, such as asking about the context of photos’ original creation or reflecting on how they have been reused.