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Architecture of Thought

2011
Author:

Andrzej Piotrowski

Architecture of Thought

An innovative examination of how material practices and constructed environments have shaped cultures

Architecture of Thought maps and conceptually explores material practices of the past. Andrzej Piotrowski shows how physical artifacts and visual environments manifest culturally rooted modes of thought and participate in the most nuanced processes of negotiations and ideological exchanges. According to Piotrowski, material structures enable people to think in new ways before words can stabilize them as conventional narratives.

Architecture of Thought is written with passion as well as learning. Andrzej Piotrowski draws material from amazingly diverse sources, in a refreshing approach to familiar and unfamiliar architecture alike.

Charles Burroughs, Case Western Reserve University

In Architecture of Thought, Andrzej Piotrowski maps and conceptually explores material practices of the past, showing how physical artifacts and visual environments manifest culturally rooted modes of thought and participate in the most nuanced processes of negotiations and ideological exchanges. According to Piotrowski, material structures enable people to think in new ways—distill emerging or alter existing worldviews—before words can stabilize them as conventional narratives.

Combining design thinking with academic methods of inquiry, Piotrowski traces ancient to modern architectural histories and—through critical readings of select buildings—examines the role of nonverbal exchanges in the development of an accumulated Western identity. Unlike studies that organize around the traditional scheme of periodization in history, Architecture of Thought uses an interdisciplinary approach to investigate a wide spectrum of cultural productions in different times and places. Operating from the assertion that buildings are the most permanent record of unself-conscious beliefs and attitudes, it discusses Byzantium and the West after iconoclasm, the conquest and colonization of Mesoamerica, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Eastern Europe, the rise of the culture of consumerism in Victorian England, and High Modernism as its consequence.

By moving beyond the assumption that historical structures reflect transcendental values and deterministic laws of physics or economy or have been shaped by self-conscious individuals, Piotrowski challenges the traditional knowledge of what architecture is and can be.

Architecture of Thought

Andrzej Piotrowski is associate professor in the School of Architecture, University of Minnesota. He is coeditor of The Discipline of Architecture (Minnesota, 2001).

Architecture of Thought

Architecture of Thought is written with passion as well as learning. Andrzej Piotrowski draws material from amazingly diverse sources, in a refreshing approach to familiar and unfamiliar architecture alike.

Charles Burroughs, Case Western Reserve University

Ambitious in its historical and geographical scope, Architecture of Thought traces conflicting religious, political, and symbolic complexities in architecture that have been overlooked. Against the rational systems of Western thinking, with their emphasis on language, human intentionality, and forces of power, Andrzej Piotrowski probes places, buildings, and spatial practices that have eluded architectural history. This is timely and innovative analysis that will be of interest to historians and to practitioners of architecture and design.

Bronwen Wilson, University of British Columbia

In the introduction, Piotrowski provocatively proposes that architecture is an insufficiently explored cultural practice. In the rest of this volume, he convincingly explains that architecture exceeds normative considerations in terms of problem solving, collective symbolic practice, or mere functional reaction. This volume challenges one to reassess not only how one thinks about architecture, but also how architecture negotiates the way one understands the world.

Choice

Architecture of Thought is an important and provocative reflection on the intertwined relationship between ideology and material culture.

Therese F. Tierney, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review

Architecture of Thought

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Moving Target of Architecture
1. Architecture and Medieval Modalities of Thought
2. Colonization and Symbolic Reality in Mesoamerica
3. Structures of Tolerance and Religious Domination
4. Technologies of Thought in Victorian England
5. High Modernism According to Le Corbusier
Closing Remarks: The West
Notes
Illustration Credits
Index