Message - Re: contextualism

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Posted by  Donald on September 12, 2003 at 12:27:55:

In Reply to:  contextualism posted by seth on September 12, 2003 at 03:23:31:

You are correct, the "ism" term of contextualism is not referenced in the dictionary. In the practice of architecture the root simplistic Contextualism definition could be termed as: a design approach which derives from the belief that a new building must blend in with its neighbors in terms of height, materials, fenestration etc....thats it, as simple as it sounds.

A more skeptic definition might be:
Contextualism is referred to the metaphysics of the world in terms of a limitless complex of change and innovation, order and chaos. The observer chooses the context from which to observe. This context provides structure and organizing gestalts or patterns, which create meaning and scope for the vast range of details, which, without this structure of interpretation would have no meaning or be overlooked.

Then there was Nietche who expressed his thoughts on Art regarding contextualism: art is at the “center” of experience, a “text” within a “con-text” according to which it must be understood. Art exists on a higher plane than the rest of experience. The work of art itself, the “text,” the focus of experience, is special; but its “con-text,” however complex, may turn out to be quite mundane. This also hold true in architectural context.

Postmodernism was the result root beginnings by which the "contextualism" term alludes to.The 1960s saw the rise of dissatisfaction with consequences of the Modern movement, especially in North America, where its failings were exposed in two influential books, Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) and Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966). Read both these book to search out the root answer to your question about the start of this movement...then read as much on the history of modern day architecture to see how context over the past 30 years has shaped and molded "some" architecture since the Jacobs and Venturi days.

Try these web pages for a start on some theory about it:

And see some architects solutions to the context problem at:

Good Luck on your paper!

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