Learning from essentialism in architecture:
Essentialist Polemics in Architectural History, 2006:
…major architectural theories are fundamentally representational, and can be summarized as theories of semiotics, empathic projection, material symbolism (as tectonic glorification, or territorial protectionism), or as reflections of a community (and the related notion of archaeological structuration). This paper will argue that even if there are particular features of architectural design not shared by other related disciplines, that the above major theories, (as well as non-representational formalist theory), are all open to an accusation of impoverished essentialism…I suggest the followingargument: that with one notable exception, major architectural theories are fundamentally re-presentational. These theories can be summarizedas theories of semiotics, empathic projection, ma-terial symbolism (as tectonic glorification, or territo-rial protectionism), or as reflections of a community(and the related notion of archaeological structu-ration).The above classification of these theories is to high-light problems common to architectural aesthetics
One does not have to be essentialist about essentialist theories in architecture, one can mix match and modulate
These theories avoid discussing architecture intertwined with a sense of place, they concentrate on representation and form (see Wittgenstein, Family Resemblance argument).
19thC architectural theory started addressing changes in style and the role of empathy but was overtaken by industrialization, painting and sculpture and light-weight furniture, industrial, portable, stackable.
(Mention in passing the advantages and disadvantages of Horta, and Gaudi).
When you consider all the aspects of building buildings and how so many other disciplines are involved, it is still hard to extract the relationship and inter-relationship of architecture as building meaningful places and inter-places.
Architecture also pioneered the use of transition spaces, interstitial places, and objects that created transitional viewing and acting spaces/translucent and perforated visual barriers and so on (mention here Villa Mairea, Asplund’s diaphanous work inspired by Strindberg’s set design in A Ghost Play.., the transitional wall in Utzon’s housing estates)
Virtual places typically lack transitional spaces, breathing areas, the diaphanous, the moulded, in brief, the interplaces. They concentrate on form, colour, light.