Built upon Love: Architectural Longing after Ethics and Aesthetics

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The forced polarity between form and function in considerations of architecture—opposing art to social interests, ethics to poetic expression—obscures the deep connections between ethical and poetical values in architectural tradition. Architecture has been, and must continue to be, writes Alberto Pérez-Gómez, built upon love. Modernity has rightly rejected past architectural excesses, but, Pérez-Gómez argues, the materialistic and technological alternatives it proposes do not answer satisfactorily the complex desire that defines humanity. True architecture is concerned with far more than fashionable form, affordable homes, and sustainable development; it responds to a desire for an eloquent place to dwell—one that lovingly provides a sense of order resonant with our dreams. In Built upon Love Pérez-Gómez uncovers the relationship between love and architecture in order to find the points of contact between poetics and ethics—between the architect's wish to design a beautiful world and architecture's imperative to provide a better place for society.Eros, as first imagined by the early lyric poets of classical Greece, is the invisible force at the root of our capacity to create and comprehend the poetic image. Pérez-Gómez examines the nature of architectural form in the light of eros, seduction, and the tradition of the poetic image in Western architecture. He charts the ethical dimension of architecture, tracing the connections between philia—the love of friends that entails mutual responsibility among equals—and architectural program. He explores the position of architecture at the limits of language and discusses the analogical language of philia in modernist architectural theory. Finally, he uncovers connections between ethics and poetics, describing a contemporary practice of architecture under the sign of love, incorporating both eros and philia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is as if the author has created a gathering of characters from history (Ficino, Vico, Piranesi, and others who advocated a poetic vision of architecture) outside of time. The book's riveting moments stem from the author's intimate rapport with them." Canadian Architect
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262662055
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Alberto Pérez-Gómez is Saidye Rosner Bronfman Professor of the History of Architecture at McGill University. He is the author of Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (MIT Press, 1983) and (with Louise Pelletier) Architecural Representation and the Perspective Hinge (MIT Press,1997).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Opening conversation     1
Introduction: Architecture and Human Desire     3
Historical origins of eros and philia     7
Eros, Seduction, and the Poetic Image in Architecture: Form     9
Eros and Creation     11
Opening conversation     11
Primordial Eros     12
Eros as creative power in classical philosophy     14
Renaissance incorporations     16
Modern transformations     20
Orphic Eros in late modernity     25
Inspiration in contemporary praxis     28
Eros and Limits     31
Opening conversation     31
Eros, spacing, and joints     32
Erotic space and the origins of Western culture     36
Erotic architectural space in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili     39
Chora as erotic space     44
Renaissance incorporations     51
Modern transformations     56
Eros and time     65
Eros and the Poetic Image     69
Opening conversation     69
Origins     71
Marsilio Ficino and the poetic image in the Renaissance     73
The poetic image in Renaissance theory     79
Modern transformations     81
The poetic image in modernity     94
From Lequeu to Duchamp     101
Frederick Kiesler's endless architecture     104
Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum     105
The poetic image in the contemporary world     107
Interlude: Eros, Philia, and Agape     111
Eros and recognition     111
Philia, ethics, and communion     118
Philia, eros, and agape     120
Philia, Compassion, and the Ethical Dimension of Architecture: Program     123
Opening conversation     123
Philia, Ritual, and Decorum     125
Origins     125
From decorum to character     133
Architecture at the Limits of Language     137
Opening conversation     137
Language and architecture     139
Architecture as language     143
The Language of Philia in Architectural Theory     147
Vitruvian theory     147
The sequel     153
A Tale of Two Brothers: Jean-Louis and Charles-Francois Viel     167
The poetic architecture of Jean-Louis Viel     168
The political architecture of Charles-Francois Viel      173
Interweavings     184
Poetry and Meaning from within a (Western) Architectural Tradition     187
Opening conversation     187
Architecture from within     187
Architecture as poetic writing     192
Architecture as critical poem     196
The Ethical Image in Architecture     203
Opening conversation     203
Hermeneutics and ethical intentions     204
On endless desire     211
Notes     215
Index     243
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