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Architectural Project

By Alfonso Corona-Martínez; Edited by Malcolm Quantrill; Foreword by Marco Frascari

Publication Year: 2003

An Essay Concerning the Project considers the practice of architectural design as it has developed during the last two centuries. In this challenging interpretation of design education and its effect on design process and products, Argentinean scholar Alfonso Corona-Martinez emphasizes the distinction between an architectural project, created in the architect’s mind and materialized as a set of drawings on paper, and the realized three-dimensional building. Corona-Martinez demonstrates how representation plays a substantial role in determining both the notion and the character of architecture, and he traces this relationship from the Renaissance into the Modern era, giving detailed considerations of Functionalism and Typology. His argument clarifies the continuity in the practice of design method through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a continuity that has been obscured by the emphasis on changing goals instead of design procedures, and examines the influences of modernity and the legend of the Bauhaus. Architectural schooling, he suggests, has had a decisive role in the transmission of these practices. He concludes that the methods formalized in Beaux Arts teaching are not only still with us but are in good part responsible for the stylistic instability that haunts Modern architecture. Abstract but not abstruse, An Essay Concerning the Project provides clear information for a deeper understanding of the process of design and its results. More so than any other recent text, it shows the scope and richness of the field of speculation in architecture. It presents subtle considerations that must be mastered if an architect is to properly use typology, the means of representation, and the elements of composition and in architecture. Students, teachers, and practitioners alike will benefit from its warning about the deeper aspects of the endeavor of architecture.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Studies in Architecture and Culture Series


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pp. v

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pp. vii-xii

Unhappy thoughts have dominated most contemporary architectural thinking, and this has forced the basic components of the architectural discipline to separate out in the same way that the oil and the egg-yolk break apart when a mayonnaise curdles. My grandmother, who was an astonishingly good cook, had a secret method for saving the situation...

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pp. xiii-xvi

In The Architectural Project I aim to show that in the nineteenth century, by freeing composition from the elements of classical architecture, a new and almost invariable form of design practice was created. It is the practice of an abstract “composition” which is, however, a composition of architecture. In this way, a succession of styles becomes possible, within a...

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pp. 3-6

Design is the invention of a new object through the mediation of another object that precedes it in time. The designer operates on this, the project, modifying it, confident that it is satisfactory. Then its characteristics are translated into a code of instructions that can be understood by those in charge of realizing the second object, known as “the work” or...

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CHAPTER 1 Design Processes

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pp. 7-24

The design process consists of a series of operations that will generate a model from which a building may be “copied.” There is not one single design process, one unique way to advance that progression. Most design processes progress from a state of lower definition and greater generality to one of lesser generality and higher definition. Yet this does not...

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CHAPTER 2 Description Generation

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pp. 25-40

...Design is the description of an object that does not exist before that description. This description is achieved by successive approximations. The first descriptions refer to the behavior of the new object in the world— the contextual relationships it has to enter, the needs it has to satisfy. These descriptions are verbal or written and parts of them will be registered...

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CHAPTER 3 Design Education

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pp. 41-59

In schools of architecture we find subjects called “Architectural Design,” “Design,” or as was usual in the past, “Architectural Composition.” All these course titles point to a single although varied reality: the design studio. The design studio is where the student learns to design; and design is considered the key activity for an architect. Therefore, the studio is the most important piece in the set of subjects; the essential activity, offering...

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CHAPTER 4 The Two Faces of Functionalism

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pp. 60-78

...Durand is here showing his extraordinary utilitarianism. He arrives at a conclusion that would be surprising were it not for the fact that it is a principle that has now ruled over composition for more than a century. This is the conclusion: usefulness resides in distribution. The functionality of a building is something that can be studied in its plan...

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CHAPTER 5 Typology

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pp. 79-98

The subject of type in architecture may be considered in two different ways. The first is directly relevant to design: typology as a form of knowledge that can be applied directly to design work. The other approach considers typology as a terrain of encounter between inhabitants and architects. The first of these aspects has been extensively treated and gained...

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CHAPTER 6 Development of the Project: The Elements of Architecture

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pp. 99-123

We have seen that in the first part of the design process, the architect arrives at a general disposition considered satisfactory. That disposition is called a parti, and it displays the mutual relations among the elements of composition in the program. The disposition has perhaps been adopted by modifying an existing type. In either case we have what G.C. Argan...

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CHAPTER 7 Elements of Composition

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pp. 124-163

Architecture—various built environments at their different scales— appears in plan drawings as a succession of marks or figures that represent solid bodies and spaces. These shapes can be perceived as figure or ground. Spaces thus represented are intended for human use; for the movement of people, for the equipment they use, for rest. Design action...

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CHAPTER 8 Changes in Design Method: The Future in the Present

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pp. 164-186

This book can only suggest the scope and the consequences that a new revolution in architectural representation might have: this revolution results from the introduction of computer-aided drawing. A revolution in representation must necessarily produce a revolution in architecture: this is the thesis I have defended since 1976.1 Design is not simply a technique; it is a culture. To design, one must...


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pp. 187-198


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pp. 199-213

E-ISBN-13: 9781603446662
E-ISBN-10: 1603446664
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585441860
Print-ISBN-10: 1585441864

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 12 b&w photos., 58 line drawings., 4 tables.
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Studies in Architecture and Culture Series

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Subject Headings

  • Architectural design -- Study and teaching.
  • Architectural design.
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