Not a locked box: the everyday art of the Aalto atelier

Harold Charrington

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2 Citations (SciVal)


The schism between our admiration of the artefacts of the great architectural practices of the twentieth century, and our lack of knowledge as to how those achievements were manifest, is one of the most enduring characteristics of modern architecture. Modern architectural practice and its sustaining historiography has typically focused on the image of the designed object at the expense of the skills and conditions that shaped it; a focus on reputation rather than comprehension. Indeed those constituting contingencies of design are more often seen as obstructing the architectural vision and true reality of experience; hence the fixation on a singular (and possibly post-rationalised) first ‘spark’ of conception and the photogenic qualities of the realised, and usually uninhabited, object. Dalibor Veseley is right to state that ‘instrumentality (techne) must always be subordinated to symbolic representation (poiesis), because techne refers only to a small segment of reality, while poiesis refers to reality as a whole'. Nevertheless, in the current climate the statement is likely to be understood as further legitimising the continuing neglect of what architects actually do.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-266
Number of pages12
JournalArchitectural Research Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


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