Message - Re: "maintain, increase, and diffuse knowledge, by assuring the conservation and protection of the world's heritage

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Posted by  Paul Malo on November 02, 2002 at 20:15:53:

In Reply to:  "maintain, increase, and diffuse knowledge, by assuring the conservation and protection of the world's heritage posted by shaliza on November 02, 2002 at 03:18:29:

Architects more commonly provide a service; occasionally they practice an art. What is the relation between professional service and art? Culture and art may not be the same thing. Culture may be seen broadly as the general pattern of human practice of a certain time and place; vernacular building is part of that culture--so is architecture, as distinct from vernacular building. Professional service provided clients in their building projects may produce art but more often it merely produces vernacular building, even when that service is provided by professional architects.

Architects rarely build for themselves, but usually must accommodate the needs and wishes of a client. A few clients give high priority to the quality of art , giving the architect free rein to work as an artist. More typically the architect tries to be an artist in spite of the client. This may lead to the Farnsworth House situation, where a work of art results but the client sues the architect for professional malpractice.

Most architects are reconciled to producing vernacular building of good quality while providing good professional service. A few architects succeed in producing architecture as art, because they have clients who appreciate art. It is possible for the architect to produce art without conscious art patronage of the client, but the odds are stacked against it, since so much of what a building becomes is determined by the needs and preferences of the client. These most likely compromise the artistic intention of the designer.

What's the distinction between vernacular building and architecture as art? One isn't bad, the other good. The qualitly of vernacular architecture in a culture has more to do with the quality of life in that culture than the quality of its architecture as art. There may be no single building in Georgian Bath, for instance, that may be singled out as a work of art, but the city as a whole enhanced life there because of the quality of its vernacular architecture.

The cult of the architect as artist on the other hand often produces arrogantly egotistical projects that are indifferent to the quality of life in the community. Artists can be dangerous.

Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language has been discussed in another thread. The issues raised there are relevant here.

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