Nikos A. Salingaros: "TOWARDS A BIOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING OF ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM:LESSONS FROM STEVEN PINKER", Katarxis NΊ 3
Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA. email@example.com
Architecture is indeed linked to biology. This observation is intuitively true from a structural perspective, since human beings perceive a kinship between the different processes -- natural and artificial -- that generate form. Nevertheless, the broadness of the claim might appear surprising, considering that it comes from architects holding radically different ideas about what buildings ought to look like. The idea of a biological connection has been used in turn by traditional architects, modernists, postmodernists, deconstructivists, and naturally, the "organic form" architects. One might say that architecture's proposed link to biology is used to support any architectural style whatsoever. When it is applied so generally, then the biological connection loses its value, or at least becomes so confused as to be meaningless. Is there a way to clear up the resulting contradiction and confusion?
Up until now, architects and those scientists interested in architecture have focussed on the morphological imitation of nature. Sometimes explicitly, more often implicitly, natural forms, including biological forms, have inspired the constructions of human beings. (This topic is being studied by the architect and author Lucien Steil in a major project now underway). Nevertheless, I believe that an understanding of the biological roots of architecture and urbanism requires another component that is independent of structural imitation. This more elusive aspect of the problem is concerned with how we connect and perceive form to begin with. As such, it has more to do with our own internal structure as human beings than with more general biological structures. The answers are to be found in cognitive processes, perception, and neurophysiology...