Do architectural pillars make a structural contribution?


Architecture anthropology


Architecture interpretation concepts
from the point of view of more recent
ethnological and anthropological architectural research

By Nold Egenter

Zurich / Lausanne





Is architecture much more than an 'aestheticized function'? Karsten Harries discussed this provocative question a good 10 years ago in his important book 'The Ethical Function of Architecture' (1997) very comprehensively, very intelligently and essentially from the point of view of European philosophy. It is fundamentally about a critique of the traditionally far too narrow, merely aesthetic and artistic interpretation of architecture. In a discussion with numerous contemporary witnesses of contemporary architecture and art history, Harries takes the view that architecture is not just a 'decorated shed'. It would have to embody a broad ethos that represents the humane values ​​of a society. Accordingly, it is also entitled to a political dimension that is not sufficiently applied today.

The following contribution is part of this range of interpretations, which it at the same time expands methodologically. Harries works in the European cultural area. It is based on the history of architecture and art, including history, philosophy and, last but not least, folklore, in the sense of rural tradition. Heidegger's Black Forest House plays an important role.

After a methodological criticism of Charles Jencks '' The Language of Postmodern Architecture '(1979), Harries' philosophical bridge to human tradition is expanded in the present text to include new fields of research that have developed over the past 30 years: architectural ethnology and Architecture anthropology. These are new fields of work that today - probably because of their new scientific requirements - have found far too little entrance into architecture education. However, they will undoubtedly gain in importance because they have a convincing advantage over the problematic style discussions: the objectivity of the architecture interpretation and thus probably more continuity in the theory of architecture.

The decisive factor of the new approach is that architecture in the anthropological interpretation is related in the broadest sense as constructive behavior to habitat and space, from which elementary toposemantic structures ('creating a place', 'establishing a settlement', 'local hegemony of the settlement founder') ) and symbolic orders (categorical polarity) become visible, from which the complex structure of architecture and the diversity of relationships with people can be seen in a new way. In addition, development theory reveals new aspects of the human environmental organization, which turn out to be architecture in the sense of signs and symbols in living space as an important basis for human cultural development.



Architecture as a contemporary problem:
from modern to postmodern

Modern architecture had its deeper roots in the industrial revolution. All of its essential characteristics relate to this undoubtedly important technical novelty, which moved a lot socially, economically, spatially and politically and also had an impact on the architecture.

This attitude remained relatively positive until after the Second World War, on the one hand because modern buildings mostly only figured out selectively in the landscape, and therefore mainly symbolized exciting otherness. That changed with the German reconstruction: Modernism showed its 'totalitarian' character for the first time in terms of area. Alexander Mitscherlich clearly described this connection in his book 'Die Unwirtlichkeit Unser Städte' (1965).

In the rest of Europe, too, the spread of modern architecture increasingly brought it into contrast to premodern architecture, a field of tension that was expressed above all in the old city centers and was usually clearly in favor of history. The 'modern' has been restricted and adapted.

But it is not just the new dimensions of new technologies that provoked, especially where old forms still exist in historical core cities. There are also changes that are not immediately apparent, such as the absolute homogenization of the space, a criterion that results from the technical logic, the machine production and the functionalization of the usable areas. This did not come into the light as a process, let alone as a human problem, because in modern times space has always been interpreted in a dominant physical-astronomical way. Only more recent work on spatial anthropology (Bollnow 1963, Kerschensteiner 1962) made it clear that modern architecture, with its strong influences from industry and technology, has completely changed the conventional living space and is therefore burdening the population with enormous adaptations with unconscious processes.

It is also clear that not only the ornament disappears - completely misunderstood by modernity - as 'primitive magic' from the world of the living machine. The same goes for the composition, 'the house within a house within a house', to which every window, every gate and even every detail had to submit before the modern age, because buildings - in keeping with their long tradition - were handed down as something multifaceted.

Last but not least, the elementary aesthetics of polarity also fell victim to the technical processes. Technology favored the art-historical, idealized, geometrical-mathematical renaissance concept of proportion (Wittkower 1969, Egenter 1986a). The once so rich, empirical aesthetic disappeared, leaving the field to the geometric uniformity.

It is probably such unconscious archetypes that form as a resistance to machine aesthetics and thus support the astonishing tenacity with which residential areas in particular have remained traditional in many places, especially in the British Isles.

The same applies to all of Europe: if you can afford it, you don't live in prefabricated buildings in front of the city, but rather in the wider area, close to nature, in semi-rural villa districts with pre-modern, mostly traditional or historical character. These are 'facts' that the architects should slowly 'discover' themselves.

Let's be clear! Modernity, based on the industrial revolution, launched a program that, in addition to the locomotive, the ocean liner, the airplane and the car, viewed architecture as a 'living machine', as part of a new industrial system. It seemed logical, it was obvious, it showed many advantages, so many went along for a long time. 'Living more beautifully' was the magic word.

Undoubtedly, the program failed. A huge effort in a worldwide 1: 1 experiment. There are other parameters at play that stand in the way of the technological conception of the architecture. But what kind are they? Only intensified research in the human sciences can answer this question.

However, the disorderly and unscientific approach to this problem in the last few decades of the last century defies description. In the following a short digression.

Charles Jencks: the death of modernity

Since the bizarre Kosmos landscape planner and "architecture theorist" Charles Jencks introduced the term 'postmodernism' into architecture in the mid-1970s and at the same time declared the 'death of modernity', there has been considerable confusion on various levels in the architecture scene. The reasons lie primarily in its superficial method, which is in criminal contradiction to the temporal depth of the architecture, especially if one understands it in the broadest, cultural-anthropological sense. Jencks' declaration is therefore an important example that shows the problems of today's architecture discussion.

"The death of modernity" - meaningful architecture criticism?

The main focus of Jenck's book is the depiction of Minoru Yamasaki's Pruitt Igoe settlement, St. Louis / Missouri, which was partially blown up with dynamite in 1972. "Modern architecture died in St. Louis, Missouri on July 15, 1972 at 3:32 p.m." That is quite an exaggerated dramatization. One gets the impression that Jencks is using the event to present itself as the founder of postmodernism.

But what were the reasons? The eleven reasons Jencks cites for the "architecture crisis" are rather superficial. In addition to new economic opportunities (large-scale construction by large corporations), it is, so to speak, about the lack of social contacts.

The fact that modern buildings were largely uniform is rather banal. It lies in the conditions of industrial production. Jencks turns it into a whole chapter of exalted criticism.

Among other things: Mies van der Rohe becomes a steel profile fetishist who shows us a whole confusion of unidentifiable building types on the campus of the IIT in Chicago (astrophysical research institute - cathedral - boiler building - presidential temple - architectural building).

Basically, all of this is easy to see. It's in the definition of modernity. She dedicates herself to industry and technology, working out the new possibilities, avoiding the spatial programs and formal codes of the previous style history.

In response to the emotional condemnation of the Mies van der Rohe style, Jencks stages a sarcastic reckoning with several other luminaries of modernity and their realizations, which are openly treated as absurd. Finally, in the section "Monopoly Companies and Big Business", numerous well-known architects are accused of 'architecture corruption' for their supply services to large companies and multinationals. International trade fairs and world exhibitions were often misused by architects for propaganda purposes, for example in the sense of "nationalisms" or to seduce the masses with "substitute culture".

Architectural theory as the grotesque

Anyone who thinks he has got into a maze here should be warned: it gets worse. Jencks transforms architecture into language. At first it seems quite funny. Cityscapes in London as shouting, as territorial roar, also mocking laughter. Did we get into a Walt Disney children's film? Jencks introduces us to his new method of understanding architecture.

Big signal at the beginning of the chapter 'The types of architectural communication'! Adolf Loos' gigantic Doric column as an office tower, design for the Chicago Tribune competition (1922). She introduces the topic. At its core, it contains the entire 'architecture theory' of Charles Jencks, the arbitrary aberration of any form without even the slightest knowledge of its former meaning.

What appears in the following under 'metaphor' is rather frightening. Facade grid of multi-storey car parks, popularly known as the 'cheese grater', the sugar cube hotel in Tokyo, are these supposed to be metaphors? Finally Jörn Utzon's opera house in Sydney as a group of mating turtles etc. One wonders what these absurd clichés are doing here.

The journey continues to Venturi's concept of ducks and his "decorated shed" theory. Donut drive-ins, 'architecture'? In the same breath, Eero Saarinen's TWA Building is no longer discussed as an engineering achievement, as it used to be, but now as a metaphor, analogous to Venturi's "Duck", as a gigantic concrete bird. Finally, Le Corbusier's famous Ronchamp Chapel follows. It is compared to cartoons. From a swimming bird to a priest's hat. Ronchamp as a duck?

Jencks is obviously concerned with devaluing modernity, even with its most respectable achievements, in order to gain a podium for his 'vision', the 'radical eclecticism' called 'postmodernism'.

Catalog of Postmodern Architecture

With the concept of 'architecture as language', the ground is finally prepared for a catalog of 'postmodern architecture'. But what is listed here is reminiscent of the playroom of a spoiled child. The style story becomes a toy store from which, depending on your preference, you can get any shape you want without knowing their actual meaning. Greek columns, classically copied or redesigned, 'designed', thick and massive or thin and delicate, gigantic or perverted to the fireplace ...!

The beginning of the architectural confusion? Architecture Babylon? Obviously a tail!

Most of it is also embarrassing because the classic order, such as the vertical and horizontal polarities or the immanent hierarchy of forms of a building, are no longer understood. Most of the examples Jencks gives us have something crippled, something miscarried. Also in the composition a real mess.

Postmodernism as' radical eclecticism

Jenck's 'architectural theory' ultimately amounts to a "radical eclecticism". As a model, he specifically suggests the period from 1870 to 1910: "at least 15 styles" stood in opposition to one another at that time. The general trend of all styles towards heterogeneity reached a climax .... "

It's hard to believe. There were mountains of books that rushed against this arbitrary form-borrowing storm. How should it be, the building? Gothic or more Romanesque, or maybe more classical? That means the room program remained more or less identical, the external shape was - like on a holiday cake - any pastry stuck on!

In addition, at that time people still had a critical understanding of the style - ultimately as a merry listing of characteristic external features of art history - and resisted the arbitrary gelatinization of architecture. At that time it was still understood that eclecticism had turned the classification system of art historians into art.

The most devastating example of the concept of style is the classification of the Greek column order, which goes back to Vitruvius. This artificial order of terms (capital, volutes, fluting, etc.), which has persisted in art history with incomparable tenacity to this day, ultimately has nothing to say about the actual meaning of the column.

Walter Andrae's theory of evolution of the Ionic column

This historical classification is completely disintegrated when it is replaced by Walter Andrae's 'column theory'. "The Ionic Column - Design or Symbol?" is the title of the book (1933). The development theory of the Ionic column leads us to the insight that the Ionic (and Corinthian) column must have basically been monumentally frozen signs and symbols, copies of a broad tradition of fibro-constructive prototypes. Architecture as an independent symbol, as a free symbol! Structure thinking! Development theory! Worlds away from the history of style

One can develop this thesis further in such a way that these signs and symbols in turn must have been models of a categorically polar-harmonic, cognitive system that is most likely closely related to the deeper layers of human culture. Their broad significance is shown in the fact that not only the Egyptian temple columns were of the same fibro-constructive basic structure. The innumerable archaeological sources on trees of life also speak in this direction, as does the toposemantic symbol of the gods of Ishtar, with which Andrae worked as a prototype, points in this direction.

From this point of view, Jencks' boisterous advertising for total eclecticism in the context of postmodernism appears to be a highly irresponsible thing. Ultimately, he propagates an urbanistic-architectural illiteracy that is limited to playing an empty game with arbitrary forms.




Rudofsky as a signal

In these intensive discourses on established design architecture before the turn of the millennium, many missed the fact that something completely new was developing beyond the magazine world of architects: broad research into architecture.

We are talking about the establishment of a research that interprets architecture in the broadest sense as a human phenomenon, that is, as architectural ethnology or architectural anthropology. It is about setting out on a broad level to present architecture as a human cultural achievement with scientific methods and to question it - with a view to its traditional inhabitants - about its essence.

There are signs of a huge expansion of research into architecture.

The actual key experience was provided by Bernhard Rudofsky's exhibition "Architecture without Architects" in the Museum of Modern Art (1964).

Rudofsky showed himself to be an extraordinarily sensitive and deeply reflective photographer in his pictures. Most of his pictures clearly speak of something that our sense of architecture and the living environment has lost. That is probably why the exhibition acted like a signal.

The title was also brilliant in its provocative simplicity. Architecture without architects! High architecture, as art, had always distinguished itself from the mere building of tradition. Their mark of quality was the architect - mostly with a famous name in his time - who was pseudo-theologically revered like a god for his 'creative creations'. The Renaissance Myth of the Human Creator Genius. "Architecture without architects", the title cut a breach in a firmly established worldview. He breaks the established relationship between architecture, designer and architectural art knowledge. Architecture from the rural tradition? Wasn't that considered by some as a 'sunken manor'?

Ethnic architecture

At around the same time, numerous architects around the world began to be interested in architectural and ethnological topics. This movement was triggered by Amos Rapoport's little book 'Built Form and Culture' (1969). It was of crucial importance for the initial development of ethnological research by architects and anthropologists. Rapaoport also remained a central figure in the new movement in its further development. His work has made many aware that the house is an important parameter of traditional cultures. Using specific terms such as 'Environmental Behavioral Research', 'Environmental Behavior Studies, Studies of Meaning', he has built a system that can be used in a variety of fields of relationship in order to re-examine the built environment. They tried to find new ways to improve the design.

The priority of the concept of culture in the humanities and the resulting broad applicability of the concept are also its weaknesses. The concept of culture in cultural studies is about the most diversified and thus also the most imprecise that one can think of. Approaching the house from the point of view of culture therefore misses a great opportunity, scientifically speaking, which lies in the long-term, objective-empirical character of the building.

A typical work such as that presented by Setha Low, an anthropologist strongly influenced by Rapoport, in the new Festschrift for Rapoport, hardly goes beyond the level of a travel guide report in terms of relevant statements (Moore 2000).

Rapoport has also never seen that the traditional house is not a formal unit. Rather, it is a complex made up of different components (and the corresponding lines of development), which can usually be seen clearly in the house-related rites. Rapoport's discussion of external influences such as climate, material availability and social, resp. Accordingly, cultural factors ignore the essential, because the culturally relevant forces with which one identifies - for example in house-related cults - lie in the toposemantic and structural-symbolic forces of the integrated architectural elements themselves (see below).

Paul Oliver also published early works that gave important impulses for the new research direction, such as 'Shelter and Society' (1969), 'Shelter in Africa' (1971), 'Shelter Sign and Symbol' (1975). The most important project was undoubtedly the encyclopedia he published on the ethnology of the house ('Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World', EVAW, 1997) on which around 2000 architects, but also archaeologists and art historians etc. collaborated.

The first of the three folio volumes provides a system of access to the anthropology of the house with main orders and subordinate orders, and finally the individual reports. The two other volumes are dedicated to geographical regions. The EVAW Encyclopedia is today a landmark for global research into traditional house architecture. Above all, it also makes it clear how much ethnology has underestimated this topic and accordingly neglected it.

With a good 800 folio pages, the first volume represents a system of approaches and methods. A certain problem lies in the fact that these reflect the conventional structure, the sub-terms and methods of the 'spiritual-scientific' human disciplines. The house as traditional architecture appears as one of many, as a cultural phenomenon like others, within the well-known framework of culture.

The second and third volumes organize the contributions according to geographical criteria. This is the real gain of the work: an enormous amount of material from the most distant parts of the world is found spread out before our eyes. An enormous stimulus for architectural and ethnological research!

Unfortunately, Oliver never tried to define the term architecture either. Accordingly, the encyclopedia was essentially limited to the house as an elementary cultural unit. The house in the diversity of cultures! Always different. The fundamentally comparative penetration of the house as a complex of topo-semantic and symbolic sub-units is blocked. The global reconstruction of its formally heterogeneous development using analog basic units is prevented.

The limitation to the 'cultural anthropology of the house' has its disadvantages in the fact that the house is in turn cut off in research from those dimensions that determine its depth and its effect on the identity formation of the residents. Everything stays with the romantic 'Arts and Crafts' perspective. Architecture students are already talking about the 'vernacular style'!

Finally: many others have made significant contributions in this direction to the expansion of architectural research. Christian Norberg-Schulz, for example, should be mentioned. His early work "Existence Space and Architecture" (1971) was a guiding principle for many with regard to opening the architecture discussion to wider horizons. This also applies to his later work "Genius Loci, Towards a Pheonomenology of Architecture" (1980), but the "spirit of the place" remained attached to the spiritual aesthetics of the Eurocentric humanities. For some, the empirical dimension of architecture was neglected from this point of view. Perhaps one should also mention Christopher Alexander, who enriched the architectural discussions of that time with his early "Notes on the Synthesis of Form" (1964), but his later intuitive collection of 'Patterns' (1977) was rather disappointing.

Research organizations

The research organizations that were forming around the world with a focus on traditional house and settlement cultures were also important. At numerous universities, centers were formed in the relevant architecture departments, which, be it local or international, picked up the new impulses and organized and supported the relevant research activities.

Most important was the "International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments" (IASTE). It was founded in 1988 on the occasion of the first 'Traditional Dwellings and Settlements' conference in California (UC Berkeley). This was followed by further conferences at two-year intervals, initially regularly in Berkeley, then later in various other locations around the world. The regular journal of this organization is called: Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review (every six months). The printed archive of the conference contributions is particularly important: "The Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Working Paper Series". The titles are listed on the Internet and can also be ordered on the relevant websites.

The conferences each offer a relatively open basic topic (e.g. 2000 "The end of Tradition?"). About 20 subtitles are worked out for the main title, which indicate current problem areas. Depending on your interests, there are usually 3-6 contributions per subtitle. The definition and localization of the topic and the method of presentation are completely free. The archive accordingly reflects an enormous variety of interests, approaches and methods, but depending on what is being searched for, it can turn out to be a treasure trove. With its biennial conferences, IASTE has become the world's best-known institution, which also has a leading role in the publication of the material.

Another important organization in the United States is the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). It was founded in 1968 and sees itself as an international, interdisciplinary organization. It is aimed at all professions that deal with architectural design disciplines and are active in relevant institutions for training. Accordingly, it tries to work so that the understanding of the relationships between people and their built environment, including the natural environment, is intensified and deepened. Since 1987 a conference has been held annually on a specific topic. Depending on the topic, there are between 30 and 300 publications (see bibliography on the Internet). Here, too, a considerable amount of written material has accumulated over almost 20 years. EDRA was originally heavily influenced by Amos Rapoport's "Environmental Behavior Studies". Many of the studies and presentations are to be seen from this perspective.

Perhaps one should also point out that similar organizations (PAPER) have also emerged in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in France (Architecture et Anthropologie, Paris La Villette) or in Italy (CISPUT, Prof. Cataldi, Florence). However, their influence tended to remain at the national level.

Culture as tradition:
new parameters of architectural theory

Urban high culture and the devaluation of rural tradition

The terms culture and tradition were decisive influences in the movement. For the time being, this means enriching and opening up the architectural discussion, away from the conventional methodological and thematic perspectives, away from the narrow focus on aesthetics, form and style. But new problem areas also arise.

What is traditional culture? Is it just traditional life with no history, no cities, no civilization, as many believe? Or is tradition another form of history that we do not understand because we project the instruments of civilization onto it? Has civilization, with its monumental and written history, largely built up a self-favoring value system that simply devalues ​​the rural tradition, both on the state level and in the global dimension?

To illustrate: For example, the historically based religion claims for itself 'high religion' with transcendent beliefs laid down in writing, with corresponding institutions and clearly defined liturgy. From this point of view, traditional forms of rites and cults are classified as simple, elementary or even primitive. In comparison with the high form of civilization, they appear to be devalued a priori. Similar in the economy and in the social structures with their 1st / 3rd world thinking. And above all in art, especially architecture, resp. the so-called "traditional building".

Rural-urban dichotomy - architecture as a cultural development

Stereotypical tradition of ephemeral structures

What the house research in traditional rural areas has also shown is the insight that the linear history of urban-centered civilization and the cyclical cultural tradition of the much older rural areas are basically two completely different cultural areas in which urban civilization is rural Traditions in their area of ​​influence dominated, controlled and, as a rule, culturally devalued. The foundations and actual achievements of the rural traditions do not get into the theoretical structure at all, unless the two are separated a priori, with civilization appearing as a secondary layering. The scheme by Karl Narr (1973) for the Euro-Mediterranean cultural area does a good job here. It also shows the course of the civilization curve, resp. the 'retardation' of the European north, which suggests 'survivals' of rural traditions (see Egenter 1986b).

We call this relationship the "rural-urban dichotomy", whereby the traditionally populated rural area is considered a traditional area, or anthropologically expanded as a hominization area. Ephemeral materials dominate in it, i.e. 'fibro-constructive industries' which, however, can achieve a high degree of factual or formal durability through cyclical stereotypical tradition

Correspondingly, we can recognize a certain continuity in this traditional area with suitable facts, such as cultic traditions, which in places still shows strong traits of cultural states that go very deep in time.

Incidentally, this very probably applies to agricultural village cultures in general. European folklore shows very similar installations at traditional cult festivals widespread throughout Europe (Kapfhammer 1977). Mannhardt's 'Wald und Feldkulte' (1963), as well as Frazer's 'Golden Bow' (1890) show something similar. Roscher's work is also important, based on ancient Greece (1913) and corresponding expansions (1915, 1918). Outside Europe, too, there are quite similar things (Van der Leeuw 1933, 1948, Tylor 1891, Schultze 1871, De Brosses 1760/1988). In a cultural anthropological comparison, this globally widespread material can be conventionally described as the 'tree of life complex'.

In Europe, these semantic-symbolic structures have largely disappeared, or they have been deformed by Christian or other civilizing influences. In cultures without a notable Christian influence, such as India, such traditions are still fully alive. In Japan, too, which, in contrast to India, has excellent folklore research, corresponding studies show an astonishing homogeneity of tectonic installations in the context of rural Shinto rituals. (Egenter 1980, 1982, 1994a).

This material suggests that the agricultural settlements could be structurally very similar despite differences in language and cultural form, that the spatial environmental conditions would be very similar globally and that toposemantic traditions played an important role. In this context, the rural village shows itself as an autonomous unit and as an elementary model of sedentary societies. In other words, we get a hypothesis with which we could reconstruct civilization not only from its historical sources, but also as a development from rural rural assumptions.

The traditional rural area as a space for architecture and culture to develop

The civilizational parameters result primarily from the monumentalization, from the writing and from the profiled social hierarchy that develops with the beginning of civilization. We are interested in the extent to which civilization takes over the structures of tradition and fixes them - mostly in verbalized form - in the new form of writing.

Cognitive, formal-aesthetic, philosophical and social-anthropological structures are connected with these structural principles, which are essentially related to an anthropologically defined architectural tradition, which show us that architecture is of decisive importance in the development of culture.

Numerous phenomena show us that it is no longer the beginning of the early advanced civilizations, the so-called early civilizations, that must be seen as a decisive phase in the emergence of cultures, but rather the Neolithic village cultures, which are still completely rooted in the agrarian tradition, in which - with the development of the sedentary - the most important organizational characteristics of urban spatial and social anthropology are already given. However, they were part of a fibro-constructive culture and are therefore not covered by archeology, as the systems were materially transient.

Architecture and habitat

The interest in the small cosmos also arises from a completely different angle, from the spatial anthropology of the German philosopher O. F. Bollnow (1963). It says that people's spatial perception was originally limited to the local settlement area and its immediate environment, that the essential cultural structures of spatiality were developed there and that the broad, universal understanding of space is a late thing in terms of cultural history. In Europe it falls roughly in the 14th century.

Bollnow's important thesis is confirmed by numerous facts. Among other things, this supports the verbal history of the term 'kosmos', which in Greek still referred to a local spatial arrangement in the dimension of a village and only gained its cosmological meaning much later [1]. With this approach, we are initially aware that some things in our historical understanding of culture are problematic. For example, when one presents ancient texts as 'Babylonian creation myths', although on closer inspection they actually describe the establishment of settlements, with the deities being set up as 'theocratic' legal symbols and 'central borders' in the settlement area [2]. Bollnow is therefore not without consequences for our general view of the world and thus probably one of the groundbreaking anthropological theories of the 20th century.

So we will go to traditional societies to find out how the spatial organization of the settlement is shown. We discover that the order of a local cosmos differs drastically from the modern physical conception of space. We come across 'central borders' (settlement core borders), which seems quite unusual to us in Europe. The settlement area is also seen as harmonized with inhomogeneous - more precisely 'categorically polar' - structures, by no means understood as homogeneous. And obviously these structures are of a local nature, they developed in the early stages of spatial settlement, which is clear from their fibro-constructive technique. With Bollnow's settlement-genetic approach, we succeed in constructing a theory of the evolution of spatial perception and spatial planning.

Yes, let's take a moment to look at the anthropological definition of architecture.



Research into the objective basic conditions of settlement also gives rise to the condition for a reliable definition.What does traditional building mean? How does the civilizational form of architecture come about? Why does art history use two terms: architecture and building? Is that scientifically acceptable or is it about a historically developed value system? Do we have to decide on the architectural 'world of objects', as in zoology, where elephants and unicellular organisms live together in the same realm?

Compared to traditional building, architecture is obviously a concept of value, which is not permissible in the formation of scientific theories, all the more so since the aesthetics that distinguish architecture from mere building has not been scientifically clarified.

Aesthetic judgments cannot be taken as objectively correct. They are either subjective judgments of taste or depend on collective trends in the times. This is one of the main reasons why our architectural and urbanistic world is more like a heap of heterogeneous forms than a harmonious whole. Although this bunch can change their mainstream concepts every few decades - as if it were clothes fashion - with some prominent design stars. If the interest in the stale has dropped to zero, only dynamite will help. See Jencks' Pruitt-Igoe.

So, for the time being, we prefer the term architecture to 'building' in order to gain a new scientific term in which "everything man (including his immediate predecessors) ever built and builds" is included. Now we have to name and describe this content in more detail .

Does man do the construction, yes the architecture,
inherited from his biological ancestors?

The primeval hut question and the nest-building behavior of the Pongids

In his work 'The Style in Technical and Tectonic Arts' (1860-63), Gottfried Semper introduced developmental approaches to art and architecture as early as the last quarter of the 19th century by dividing the materials into 5 classes. The class "textiles" was defined as fibrous artifacts in the broadest sense and classified as the primary class. The most important argument was that in all other materials plant ornaments and fibrous textures pointed to fibro-constructive precursors.

In the history of art, Semper has never been taken really seriously, mainly because he lacked supporting theses regarding relevant archetypes, also because he ultimately saw in natural forms the models of the aesthetic - symmetry, eurythmy, direction. He was treated accordingly as an interesting special case in terms of the history of ideas, whereby the so-called "original hut question" also arose in connection with the 'Caribbean hut', which had impressed him in the great exhibition in London in 1851. Today it has become a key word in the pseudo-anthropological deepening of the architectural discussion (Rykwert 1972, Gaus 1971, Klotz 1991)

In this context, Rykwert's book 'On Adams House' (1972) is of particular importance. As in Semper research, it channels the question of the Urhütte purely in terms of the history of ideas by bringing together the - often grotesquely fictional - ideas about the origin of architecture - with a focus on Urhütte - from European history. A very interesting book, but it also shows the problems of art history in its serial structure. She favors written history as the history of art and thus remains largely attached to the most bizarre stories of ideas. The object she is looking for must remain closed to her.

In this context, the critical question arises: how, if one were not only looking for the original hut in the Bible from Adam in terms of the history of ideas, but instead asked the question of the origin of architecture in an anthropologically modern way? And where should one look if one resorted to objectively finding references to this primary layer of architecture in scientific research?

Subhuman architecture

Questions of this kind reveal something extremely astonishing: where one is scientific today, that is, in physical anthropology, resp. In primatology, which searches for the beginnings of human conditions in terms of evolutionary theory, there is surprisingly highly convincing material on the primary layer of architecture: the nest-building behavior of the higher great apes (Pongids) . The American primatologist couple, Robert and Ada Yerkes (1929) had collected, commented and evaluated numerous reports from field researchers in the tropical forests on the nest-building behavior of chimpanzees and gorillas in Africa and the orangutan in Southeast Asia over the years. An important book that stimulated several biologists, but above all also female biologists, to carry out field research in African and Indonesian tropical forests, which has now become famous. Significantly, it was above all women who emphasized the importance of nest building for the life of the Pongids (Goodall 1962, 1963; Fossey 1974; Galdikas-Brindamour 1975).

Unfortunately, this research was largely postponed by the important research centers of primatology, not because nest building was not convincing enough, but rather because interest had shifted to social phenomena and the historically parallelizable tool behavior promised more popularity. It is likely that field research has been neglected because other research methods with experimental animals kept in captivity could be carried out with fewer resources (McGrew 1992).

We do not want to go into detail here, only to mention: If one assumes that the construction of tree nests has developed as a compensation for the increasing body weight (lying position during sleep) of the 'big apes' (Proconsul), one can follow a constructive tradition of assume about 20 million years (Yerkes: "constructivity"). That would be an artifact behavior that not only significantly shaped the physique (rotation of the arms, precision grip of the hands, stereoscopic vision and flattening of the face), but also the social behavior (temporary overnight camps in groups) (Egenter 1983).

Two types, two spaces for movement: tree and ground nests

There are essentially two types of nest building, tree nests and ground nests. This elementary typology is only marginally recorded by primatologists. However, it is of great importance from the architectural-anthropological point of view, because it is fundamentally connected to the two types of space of the Pongids. The tree nest has its meaning in the vertical 'arboreal' movement space. And the bottom nest is an express part of the horizontal 'terrestrial' space for movement (Egenter 1983).

Historically, it can be assumed that the tree nest is the primary form. The nests are usually constructed close to the trunk with two or three supporting side branches, with smaller branches being intertwined with these secondary branches. Finally, the nest is padded with twigs and leaves. Tree nests get their stability from the trunk and the branches of the tree, are therefore actually to be addressed as 'constructions', are not really tectonic, and are therefore not architecture.

It is completely different with the ground nests. These are built in bamboo forests with rooted bamboo stalks. The animal stretches up on the stalks, bends them down, breaks and loops and knots several stalks into a solid frame, which gets its strength mainly from the 'foundations' rooted in the ground and the triangles resulting from the knotting. The actual nest is created on top of this stable tower. Finally, the sometimes considerably heavy individual climbs up this tower, pads the nest with leaves and side branches and lies comfortably on the padded platform (Egenter 1983).

Is the architecture around 8-10 million years old?
Has it influenced people?

According to Ember and Ember (1994), the climatic conditions in Central Africa must have changed significantly in the late Miocene. The tropical rainforests receded, allowing the savannas to expand far and wide. It can therefore be assumed that the construction of 'nightcamps' on the edge of the savannah gained in importance as a result. Ground nests became more common, the ability to build this tower-like "architecture" for one night was favored. Which also means the other way around: we have a new explanation for bipedia, the upright posture, which is conventionally estimated in anthropology as 'homo erectus', but newer interpretations tend to use the upright gait considerably earlier.

This last point is - together with the above mentioned aspects - extremely important. In this sense, architecture would have had a dominant physical influence on people due to its original conditions. Not only arm rotation, precision grip, stereoscopic vision and flattening of the face indicate this point. Above all, walking upright is considered to be one of the most important characteristics of humans.

Nests are also signs and symbols that say something about the psychological relationship in the group. The Japanese have measured the night camps of six gorillas in the mountain forest after they left and recorded them according to plan (Kawai / Mizuhara 1959). The dominant male seems to control the access - in a key position - from his lower ground nest. A female with her baby slept in a five meter high tree nest in the center of the nest group. The other nests were arranged in a polygon around them, all between 2 and 3 meters high. Obviously observing the outside and securing inside play an important role (Egenter 1983).

For the architectural perspective it is also important that the pongid nest as a tectonic construction obviously lacks any aesthetic!

For the rest, please refer to my publication, which describes numerous other criteria. The relationship between mothers and their nest-building children is also interesting. They monitor the playful learning process and intervene if an argument breaks out. The above-mentioned article 'Monkey Architects' also shows in other situations that building nests in all higher apes is not only an interesting and highly routine constructive process, but also an important social and psychological focus in daily life (Egenter 1983).

Today the so-called field research of the Pongids has intensified. Unfortunately, it is not primarily about promoting knowledge about life and nest building. Rather, it is about protecting the life of the Pongids because they are threatened by the rigid cutting down of the forests in their ancestral habitats.

Semantic architecture

Walter Andrae: the Ionic column
as a fibro-constructive sign and symbol

Gottfried Semper's primacy of the fibrous (of textiles) and the nest building of the Pongids (Yerkes: Constructivity as the beginning of a constructive evolution, 1929) support the hypothesis that fibro-constructive industries played an important role in the primary layer of human culture - as the primary artifact culture. However, the hypothesis does not fit into the archeology program.

Archeology defines itself in principle as the "history of human development before the invention of writing" (Daniel Wilson, 1851). But precisely this fundamental vision of the archaeological method is still largely in the dark, especially because permanent material in prehistoric cultures only constitutes a negligibly small part of material culture. And fibrous artifacts are perishable, they do not appear in archeology [3].

The thesis of the German archaeologist Walter Andrae (1933) is all the more astonishing. He analyzed the Ionic column in the context of a broad field of development of similar steles, symbols and signs and tried to reconstruct its development as a primarily free-standing symbol . He shows numerous intermediate types such as the Neandria capital, all of which are strongly characterized by vegetable-fibrous elements and constructive bonds. He estimated the primary form to be the sign of the Sumerian goddess Ishtar, made of reeds, which was widely represented on cultic objects as symbols or characters in the early layers of Sumerian cities (Uruk) (Andrae 1933).

The Ionic column as a secondary monumentalized in stone, originally fibro-constructive artifact and symbol of gods, that is a powerful hypothesis. Unfortunately, it has not had a broader impact either in archeology or in the history of art.

On the one hand, this is due to Andrae herself. He was evidently distracted by pragmatic technical insights into the techniques used by the Marsh Arabs to build their reed mosques. Apparently, Andrae had too few models of spatial cults in this ancient cultural area. Off-site facilities. In any case, this is what numerous representations clearly depict, albeit reduced in terms of surface area.

The fixed basic structure of these cattle breeders and agricultural worlds living around marked places is obvious. The way-place scheme appears again and again with the same Inanna-Ishtar reed sign: first the pair of gate signs and behind them the singular location marking (Andrae 1933; Heinrich 1957; Frey 1957).

On the other hand, it is due to historical prejudices as represented by Rykwert (1996) with his rather unsatisfactory art history of the 'dancing column'. A huge job of documentation! But unfortunately it is based on antiquated historical ideas. On the one hand, for example, she is almost manically attached to the 'caryatid thesis'. This is understood to mean the idea that the fundamentals of column symbolism are always more or less anthropomorphic, i.e. guided by the feeling for the human body. The title of the extensive book 'The Dancing Column' and extensive material in Rykwert's book outline this location.

Or then, the other, just as simple, structurally illuminating thesis: the column as a support and load carrier, in the simple sense of a component, as Rykwert demonstrates using the Egyptian plant pillars, for example. They are prepared to support the entablature via the square abacus and corresponding cladding.

Rykwert's work is burdened by history as a method. She says: the more extensive the evidence, the further the knowledge (the thicker the book!), The closer to the truth. However, anyone who studies cultural anthropology quickly becomes aware that the historian's fundamental assumption, the homogeneity of time and space, is a fiction. This is due to what we have described as the urban-rural dichotomy. Here city, linear time, macrocosmic space perception, progress thinking. Right next to it is the rural world, local tradition with a cyclical time. We may encounter conditions like thousands of years ago.

But let's leave that. We can interpret Andrae's results in that way by simply using his primary form, the Ishtar symbol made of reeds. This makes sense for the time being because this symbol as the city goddess of an early city (Uruk) obviously has a territorial meaning that can guide us, especially with regard to the countless forms of fibro-constructive sacral symbols, symbols of gods and trees of life that are archaeologically preserved on secondary evidence (see Egenter, Internet collection:

The fact that such signs of gods became significant with the establishment of settlements as a legal sign is shown by a closer look at the 'Babylonian creation myth', which is clearly recognizable as the establishment of settlements. (Winckler 1906).

Old Babylonian creation myth:

"The holy house, the house of gods, was not created in a holy place
Pipe not sprouted, tree not grown.
Bricks not laid, substructure not built,
House not made, settlement not built
Settlement not made, coexistence not made possible.
Nippur not created, Ekur not built
Uruk not made, Eanna not built,
Eridu not made, Eridu not built,
The place of the holy house, of the house of gods, was not created.
The lands were all sea. The bottom of the island was a river of water;
Marduk (Ea) put together a cane on the water,
He makes earth,
poured it on the cane,
So that the gods may have a seat of comfort,
He created people
Aruru created the human race with him;
Animals of the field, more alive, in the field he created,
he created the green of the field,
the lands, meadows and reeds;
the wild cow, its young, the calf, the sheep,
his cub, the lamb of the fold,
Fruit trees and groves ..... "

(Winckler 1906)

Signs of gods and trees of life
as sacred legal marks for the establishment of settlements?

We can therefore initially hypothetically assume that fibro-constructive symbols of gods in the transition area between Neolithic-Metal Age agricultural settlements and earlier urban systems played an important role in the establishment of these settlements. They were the traditional legal symbols that made it possible to 'create' a social unit, a territorial unit. That means here quite clearly: it is about settling people and animals, not about religious ideas or even creating the whole world! The cultivation of fields and gardens is arranged in this way. The existential is meant, the human being and the economic life. [4]

In the Near Eastern-Ancient Egyptian area we find numerous 'toposemantic' signs of this kind, which are occasionally known from their function and meaning, such as the Egyptian Djed pillar , which played an important, also territorial role in the Reichsfest for the 30th anniversary.

In the whole of the Near Eastern region we also find an enormous wealth of sources on terms such as "tree of life", "tree of knowledge", "world tree" etc. and last but not least, as far as the fibro-constructive aspects are concerned, also the early Sumerian characters, which are fundamentally identical with this tradition, especially with regard to the character of the Ishtar goddess

As I said, the topic is usually assigned to the imaginary, the religious, the imagination, the belief, and remains spatially and objectively undefined as a phenomenon. In art it soon appears to be emphasized artificially, the other way around with natural elements. It appears macrocosmically or microcosmically connected with the world, the cosmos. In addition, the picture conveys aspects of wisdom, all-unity, etc. Historically, all these aspects are difficult to bring to a common denominator.

If, on the other hand, one argues with Bollnow's spatial anthropological approach, an originally real, artificial installation can be seen in it, which in the verbal tradition has increased in the course of the early empires and has accordingly become mythically blurred.

Accordingly, European folklore shows us numerous examples such as maypoles, festival huts and the like (Kapfhammer 1977). The main problem, however, is probably that living traditions of this kind in Europe have been greatly changed by the influence of Christianity, either through the addition of Christian traditions, reinterpretation of autochthonous elements, or total negation in the course of the rigid fight against so-called 'paganism'.

Given these difficulties, if one proceeds from the hypothesis that such sacred legal marks in the Neolithic period were possibly of great importance for the development of sedentarism and that they made a significant contribution to safeguarding the large-scale production facilities of agriculture, one arrives at a further assumption that similar ones Systems of demarcation also existed in non-European cultures and still traditionally existed today.

Research on 'Semantic Architecture' in Japan

Anyone who tests Japanese culture for the viability of such hypotheses will experience great and positive surprises. We discover a 'neolithic agrarian cultural complex', which is not represented rationally in the conventional cultural system characterized by civilizational structures and disciplines, but which is clearly of fundamental cultural and genetic importance and which obviously provided the foundations of later civilization.

This cultural complex is essentially supported by what we call 'semantic architecture'. There are around 40,000 settlements in Japan. As a rule, the agricultural settlements are laid out very similarly. The main street of the village with the older houses leads at the end to the Shinto sanctuary at the edge of the forest of a mountain foot or a sacred forest in the plain. The permanent sacred building, the Shinto shrine, is usually a wooden structure that mostly belongs to a supraregional historical Shinto shrine system.

At the main festival, usually in the annual cycle, a completely different type of architecture appears. Fibro-constructive signs and symbols are being built temporarily. , They remain in the center of local cults for a day or two and are then devalued by fire or dislocation at the end of the festival. You can see very quickly that these fibrous architectural structures are autochthonous forms of construction from the Japanese agricultural class. They are completely different from the newer, permanent Shinto shrines, which are built according to the timber structure imported from China. The fibro-constructive types had to have stood for a year as the actual place-name sign at the relevant point, but were then destroyed at the cult festival, and a new sign was erected. They were thus preserved through time in the context of a cyclical tradition of the same shape over and over again.

So it must be a pre-form of today's dominant timber construction. It was built by bundling reeds and bamboo stalks with cords and ropes made from rice straw. In the region, among numerous villages, some of which were genetically linked, they guaranteed the sedentary way of life and had thus developed into the local protector deity (ujigami). Obviously they come from the pre-civilizing Japanese agrarian class. The materials, construction and shapes used speak a clear language: we have undoubtedly discovered a very old, traditional form of architecture that is worth investigating more closely, especially because this type of architecture no longer exists in this intact complexity all over the world .

For around 4 years, around 100 villages in the area of ​​the Bivouac around the city of Omihachiman were carefully examined for the cults that take place in spring. The results are on the one hand in a Japanese Studies monograph on a single characteristic village (Egenter 1982) and on the other hand in a book published for an exhibition at the ETH Zurich on the results of the investigation in 100 villages (Egenter 1980) . Mircea Eliade said of the latter: "a very important work". And the Israeli religious scholar RJ Zwi Werblowsky wrote the following in his review of the well-known religious studies journal 'Numen': "Egenter's representations and discussions are of inestimable value, not only because of the rich materials, the penetrating analyzes and the bold hypotheses, but also because he teaches the historians of religion to rethink their own axioms taken for granted. " Part of this book also shows a tabular compilation of all types of 'semantic architecture' available in the Japanese folklore literature .

We refer to these books and restrict ourselves in the following to the most important things, namely what could mainly be worked out in these architectural symbols.

The reason to examine the area in question more closely resulted from the fact that in this region a very original form of this symbol architecture is the rule. In the monographically treated village of Ueda, in particular, it shows two basic forms that on the one hand have a strong geometric effect, at the same time as variations that are closely related, in that they differ only in the diameter of the floor plan, but at the same time represent two absolute basic types of architecture in this ratio: the Column type and the hut type . Of course, everything about these shapes is not 'design' but the result of tradition. Rooting grass, caught and bound halfway up, practically produces automatically the same shapes, pillars and huts depending on the diameter at the base. Both forms of the rooting prototype are stabilized at the bottom by triangles in the cone. Above, in the protruding part (PRO-portion, see below), they have remained natural and flexible. That brings us to the heart of the matter.

Obviously derived from these rooted basic types, the staked shapes imitate the elementary pattern. The upper part remains free to move, of course. The lower part is technically framed by ties, stabilized, whereby the stability, the stable connection with the floor is guaranteed by a staked structure that is not visible from the outside. The form is sacred in any case, is considered a physical representation of the clan or village protection deity (ujigami), an important early Japanese cult system. Of course, the fibro-constructive technique interprets much deeper in terms of time! Western thought pattern: primitive! Yes, far from it. The matter is extremely complex.

The form has spirit. But this is not a subjective expression, wanted by humans. It is coincidence, in a positive sense: it fell to man. The most important thing about the form is its categorical polarity, the actual aesthetics. That means what can be expressed with PRO-Portion in the sense of protruding. Standing in front of the flexible-natural over the static-technical part. In the philosophical sense it is significant insofar as this unity of the categorically opposites in the case of manifoldly differentiated, ie. more developed forms, always playing the role of the general, the connecting, the 'meta-physical'.

The actual basic meaning of the forms, however, lies in the territorial legal dimension, in the topo-semantic aspect of the forms. The festival is strictly regulated in terms of territory , it is about the cyclical renewal of the territorial mark in the settlement core. The bearers of the cult are the resident families (ujiko) and the annual cult of the renewal of the cult brands is a kind of territorial constitution of the village.

The signs obviously go back to the founding of the settlement . This can be seen in some places where the settlement founder's house in the village enjoys a kind of 'hegemony status'. The current board of directors of the founding house is considered to be the current 'settlement founder' (kusawake = 'grass divider'). He has free access to all houses on the festival and is warmly welcomed and entertained there. He is also the main priest in the village (kannushi), a word that originally understood itself in Japanese as the "owner of the deity" (kami-nushi), which is of course very empirical here: he plays the main role in all ritual processes that involve the Construction of the deity have to do. From this functional point of view, the cult is ultimately the traditional 'archiving' of the pre-rights of the founding house. We are dealing with a form of social hierarchy.

It is interesting in this context that the toposemantic signs are actually limits. But they are of a kind that has never been described as such in the West: settlement core boundaries or 'nuclear' village boundaries. The settlement area is not delimited by signs along the periphery, as is historically known among the Romans, for example. These are boundary signs that are the only ones to be set in the ideal center of the village, i.e. at the end of the village road on the border to the forest (or slightly in this). The territory is defined externally from this mark. The polar categorical code inherent in the sign is projected outwards. In this way, he assigns the 'holy (mountain) forest' to the oppositely understood 'settlement areas for people' in the polar sense. This characteristic, contradicting unity of wild, sacred forest and village-like, profane settlement area plus rice fields clearly shapes the landscape everywhere in Japan.

Along the access path, a wooden or stone gate (torii) often appears to the outside as a marking of the village boundary on the access path, whereby such gates at festivals are often paralleled or 'decorated' with the fibro-constructive primary borders from the depths of time.

Genetic model of architecture and plastic art

With regard to architecture and art, with our investigation in Japan in three phases we came across an area in which the elementary relationships between architecture and art can be understood in a completely new way. The three research areas are:

a) 1 elementary village, with 'Urhütte' and 'Ursäule',

b) 100 villages and their variations,

c) almost all-Japanese tradition of semantic architecture

A specific culture emerges under specific conditions with a traditional basic layer of semantic and symbolic architecture, which, as it were, shows us a field of development that begins with simple, rooted column and hut-like basic types in an elementary habitat with territorial functions. In the broader context of village traditions we find forms that have differentiated and changed. But the essential basic principle, the unity of categorical opposites in the same form, is always more or less clearly retained <11d-g>.

The shapes can also - with allusions to natural plant forms (e.g. Baum; Egenter 1981) or animals (e.g. fish: Wels, Egenter 1980 p. 63, p. 213) or as technomorphic forms, such as Schiff (Egenter 1980 p. 234) change considerably, but still remain visibly stuck in the overall tradition, in that they carry on the aesthetic principle of categorical polarity, the PRO portion, and even express it in a dominant way.

Finally the overwhelming spectacle of geometry. One thinks of Plato, origin in the realm of the divine! Here this is still to be understood empirically

The relationship to the Japanese forms as a whole is also interesting (see Egenter 1980 p. 13-19) . It shows that under local-historical conditions or other reasons, a rich variety of forms emerges, some of which remain within the framework of the architectural with differentiated hut forms, or then based on an enormous spectrum of anthropomorphic types such as giants or dwarf forms, biomorphic forms such as birds, Fish, etc., but also cosmomorphic (sun), topomorphic (artificial mountains) or technomorphic (boat, ship) forms etc. developed relatively freely.

Are we facing a panorama of the cultural 'genesis' of architecture and art? Understandably, we are in what is considered by many to be the domain of religion. The forms are usually seen as the 'seats' of deities who have recently been thought of - probably influenced by the West - as spiritual beings descending from heaven at the festive season and temporarily present in these forms. However, it can also be understood - and this is probably more likely - as a prototype of territorial legal signs which, thanks to their efficiency in guaranteeing sedentarity and also thanks to the importance of their aesthetic principle, have become increasingly ontologically of high quality.

Incidentally, this can be used as a comparative indicator for new theories of religion. Theories that see the origin of religion not in diffuse beliefs, but in such territorial law traditions. The categorically polar structured, sacral signs and symbols would have been interpreted extensively in early civilizing systems with the spatial horizontal extension of the early empire formations, also vertically polar. The empirical cults were verbalized and fixed in writing. The dynamic upper part of the symbol lost its empirical-aesthetic dimension, was projected into the planetary cosmos (Akhenaten Syndrome) and gradually gave way to a philosophical idealism. This would explain quite clearly in a new way the emergence of the early historical theocracies and their importance as an early civilizational form of government and ultimately also as a religion.

Development model of architecture, art and culture

We have tried to see a development model of architecture and art in our Japanese sources on 'semantic architecture'. It is not about classifying these 'finds' in terms of time, rather it is about seeing a new field of contexts that showed us in a completely unexpected way how architecture, in close connection with plastic art in the neolithic-territorial value system and with a fibro-constructive technique that achieved great continuity with cyclical renewal. If we become aware that we are looking at the most elementary and also the most general form of architectural-artistic aesthetics, then the new point of view should have something to say to us.

The contribution of this 'semantic architecture' is no less if we look at it through the eyes of philosophy. One remembers Greek philosophy and its early concepts of "logos". One remembers the enigmatic "motionless mover". We have seen that the forms demonstrate a rationally inconceivable thinking of 'coincidence' or, more directly, the unity of opposites in the same form, a relationship that cannot be rationally grasped.

Nietzsche worked with the idea of ​​opposing forces in art, but did not realize that the secret of the matter lies in the fact that both forces represent their struggle in the same form and accordingly speak dramatically of the harmony of the opposites. "War is the beginning of all things" Heraclitus once said. We can now understand it differently: man has the ability to aesthetically reinterpret the 'war of opposites' as 'harmony'. Heraclitus, who is known as an advocate of polar thought structures, did he understand the 'warlike beginnings' as the beginning of the beautiful, of harmony in the humanistic sense?

In other words, we fall into a whole field of connections between architecture, art, and philosophy. Everything still seems close together here. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that from here we can imagine the lower tip of a development triangle.

Seen in this way, it will probably not surprise anyone that religion may also have important roots here. We already pointed out in the introduction that important deities in the Near East were important as city deities and as reed symbols. Babylonian 'creation myths' give the impression that the inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates region at that time knew similar legal symbols in connection with the establishment of settlements. From the relationship of Moses to the sanctuary of the "Eternal Burning Bush" one can assume that such tribal cult symbols also entered the early theocracies, as can be seen in the Old Testament as 'law'. From aesthetics to the macro-cosmic dimension, materiality is lost, the relationship becomes unreasonable, belief replaces empiricism.In other words, the horizontal expansion from the village area to the imperial area also expresses itself vertically. The polarity expands vertically. The micro- (or meso-) cosmic order of the village becomes macrocosmic, planetary for the time being (for example in Akhenaten's syndrome), or universal macro-cosmological in the modern sense. But what if the spiritual bridge went nowhere? We have already said it above, the word 'kosmos' originally meant order in the village.

What ultimately emerges from the perspective is the closeness of religion to aesthetics, architecture and art. It suddenly takes on a completely new quality, a new way of interpreting it.

PRO-portion shows itself as protruding - albeit the categorically opposite - in one form. And as a sign of the order of a place, the sign is charged with a large part of the history of mankind. In a kind of root field of culture, a spatial order of the place, the territory, the habitat comes towards us, which perhaps still has its roots deep in nature, gains its stability over millennia in savannas, develops with food control and finally in the neo-stone age development of the sedentary way of life becomes the most important impetus of what we call human culture today? Emblems, coats of arms, the traditional customs of rural areas, they all still talk about it today. Rest and movement in the same form. Above and below form a unit. Tension of opposites: harmony!

The birth of aesthetics? It seems so.

In conclusion, we can say here: The Japanese situation can be interpreted as a model of a new conception of 'cultural development' in which architecture played a decisive role in the anthropologically broadly defined sense.

We have discovered something simple that - like a cell in biology - surprises us with its elementary conditions. At the same time we become aware that in this simple form of signs and symbols and their field of variation there is an enormous potential in the case of Japan: has it ultimately produced the whole variety of what we understand by culture? It is also essential because it played an important role at a crucial point in human existence: the earth, the terrestrial habitat, the territory, also in terms of the disposition of land in terms of food and existence.

The anthropological definition changes the conventional concept of architecture:
Domestic architecture

The hut, the house with an interior space for living. A new level in the anthropological concept, which sees itself as 'domestical architecture'. The creation of the hut has traditionally been explained as a functional retro-projection. Humans should have protected themselves from climatic conditions. In the context of the 5-level definition of the architecture, things look different. Even in the most elementary case of a simple conical tent hut, other semantic elements are also involved. For example fire, itself again a sign with shock and flame, as a hearth and fireplace. Likewise, the sacral marking of the living space, the entrance marking, etc. They all enter domestical architecture from the semantic level, are present there.

We have examined two main house traditions in this regard: 1) the winter and summer home of the Ainu, who were traditionally hunter-gatherers in northern Japan, and 2) the Japanese farmhouse.

Both houses are not simply handcrafted designs that have emerged from local tradition over time. Traditional 'arts and crafts' so to speak. Anyone who describes a house in this way, looking at it with Western eyes, has not understood its traditional meaning. The traditional house can only be recognized if we include the cults that are assigned to certain locations or components of the house over the course of the year. As semantic architecture, as relatively independent toposemantic signs and categorically polar symbols, they have all come together to form a larger whole, the house. And the associated traditions live on in the synthetic form of the house. This can be seen most clearly in the case of fire. It requires the construction of a thrust from which the flames beat up alive. Proportion! Aesthetics! A core of light in the dark, the Ainu festivals reflect this locally condensed maximum value.

The house of the Ainu

The house of the Ainu belongs to the chise koro kamui, the 'homeowner god' who is a sacred symbol (inau) lives in the upper left corner next to the holy window facing the mountains. If the house is abandoned or abandoned for whatever reason, the domain of this deity, its territory, so to speak, is devalued and dissolved. The stove goddess lives in the open hearth in the middle of the main room. The window facing the mountains has a cultic meaning and is considered a passage for the bear's head at the bear festival, which dominates the festival in the house as an altar at the top of the stove. The gate posts at the entrance to the main room of the house also have a cultic meaning: they become like them inau, the sacred symbols of the Ainu, marked with curled ribs. (S. Egenter 1991)

Without this important 'toposemantic system' of the Ainu, neither their house, nor their hunting, nor their economy can be generally understood. So far this has not been understood, because - true to Western thinking in separate disciplines - one understood the one as a house, the other as a religion. The description as belief in supernatural powers is a western disciplinary projection.

The matter goes much deeper. It lies in the elementary aesthetics of the signs and in the spatial harmonic order that they imply. The house stands in the older tradition of toposemantic brands, which categorically organize human space in a polar manner, make it legible, make it available for living, for economic behavior, etc. And in this sense, these brands are of absolutely fundamental existential importance. (Kayano 1978, Ohnuki-Tierney 1972, Watanabe 1973)

Now we are back to the "vernacular architecture"! But the situation is very different now. Domestical architecture is now a late thing in terms of development theory. It is determined by an earlier development. Not only that, domestical architecture is a synthetic development from several traditions of semantic architecture: there is the elementary roof, the actual hut. In the traditional winter pit house, the top of the roof is marked with an inau symbol: this is where people live. In the summer house, the house deity owns the house. The pre-domestical placemark determines the order of the house. Polar relationship between 'above' with a holy window, open to mountains, upper river and ritual place, and below, room entrance, sacral and vestibule, facing the sea and the river mouth. The house deity also determines the sacred zone, seen from above on the right with treasure chests, the hearth of father and mother. Ceremonies are precisely defined. The fire goddess in the stove, resp. its inau sign determines the order around the hearth. The entrance, emphasized with cultic entrance marks, outside the vestibule as a leaning building with its own canopy. It too is determined by the primary toposemantic order. The seating arrangements of parents and families, as well as the guests at parties, are firmly shaped in the behavior of everyone. They all fit in with the polar structure of the hut, as they are through the inauCharacter is defined. You can say that this behavior is their identity!

The Japanese farmhouse

The traditional Japanese house is very similar . Here, too, it is not just about a structure of spaces, but of places and their signs and symbols. The polar juxtaposition of the kitchen, with tamped earth (actually 'garden' niwa) and the raised 'ceremonial part' play a similar role. There are two opposing parts of the room that come together to form a unit. The details are designed accordingly, for example with permeable sliding walls, with two stoves, a cooking and a ceremonial hearth, both of which are themselves topos sacred. The house entrance is marked on the New Year with a sacred rope, the symbol of the connection of opposites, and marked with fir bunches in the fibro-constructive primary layer. In many traditional houses in Japan there was a diagonal in the ceremonial part of the god board (kamidana), the place where the house itself is located. In the traditional house (for example in the Ise area) it is the place of the fibro-constructive house signs (Egenter 1991a).

Let's keep it clear: the outside of the traditional Japanese house is undoubtedly dominant thanks to its ingenious systems of room structuring with transparent sliding doors. But what is emotionally and traditionally fundamental lies in the deeper layer of cyclically repeated locations through signs made of fibrous materials.

It is noteworthy here that the Japanese house, even as a town house, has remained much more committed to rural tradition than in the west.

Sedentary architecture

'Sedentary architecture' means any form of higher organization of settlement at the habitat level. It is essentially about the higher organization of houses, which in the traditional sense form an elementary settlement. It is about synthesis forms between 'semantic architecture' and 'domestical architecture', such as the coordination of the agricultural system of an agricultural settlement through semantic architecture and its connection to the traditional settlement founder system [5].

These studies are also intended to show that, beyond what the folklorist calls 'rural customs' from an urban point of view, ultimately a highly differentiated system of territorial marking of small and large spatial units in certain economic or existential contexts emerges, whereby also the size of the corresponding 'architecture' and its categorical-polar structure often play an important role.

The decisive factor is that these topo-semantic architectural brands with their fibro-constructive materiality, their cyclical renewal in the developed forms of living, survive and accordingly provoke impressive contrasts and in this way also generate strong emotional values.

The rural world of Japan is full of such festivals related to forests and fields, on the house and settlement level. This gives us a very realistic impression of how farming villages have been organized since the Neolithic period, what their context was and what their tradition contained.

Sedentary architecture ultimately shows that traditional cultures have not been mastered in their fine structure, neither in terms of folklore nor in terms of cultural anthropology. Among the layers, which are mostly projected from the point of view of certain disciplines, we find a behavior that is emphatically territorial and existentially nourished in architectural anthropology, but which is always strongly determined by aesthetic criteria.

On this basis, the thesis that is common in Japanological art circles must also be revised that the strongly aesthetic influences of Japanese culture are an import from China. For everyone who knows the ritual festival culture of the Japanese agricultural villages, the opposite is true: Japan's aesthetic roots lie in its rural village culture.

Urban / imperial architecture

From this fifth architectural-anthropological class, a new approach generally emerges that critically examines the history of early civilizations from a new perspective. For the apparently sudden phenomenon of new achievements, the value system “high culture” was used, whereby the new civilization was collectively made the inventor.

Now, however, it becomes clear that all of this was largely developed from a highly complex settlement core of Neolithic-Metal Age settled agricultural cultures and their traditions. These cultic traditions were neither observed nor reconstructed because archeology never took into account the potential of fibro-constructive material cultures that is dominant in ethnology (Hirschberg et al. 1966, Wernhart 1981).

Urban / imperial architecture initially examines the emergence of early monumental forms such as temples, palaces, etc. on the basis of fibro-constructive prototypes. In the following, historical forms of architecture are generally seen under the premise of fibro-constructive rural traditions.

The upheaval lies not only in the spatially expanded perspectives of the formation of the city, state and empire, but also in the temporal transition from cyclical time to the linear time of the monumental history of architecture and writing.

As indicated above, this is probably one of the most important approaches in architectural anthropology, in that it contributes a new method to cultural anthropology, which not only, as traditionally, emphasizes the new achievements of civilization historically, but, conversely, discovers new continuities, which throw a critical light on the conventional high valuations of the civilizational [7].



New general principles -
Architecture as an anthropologically based human order of space

If one assumes that architecture is to be viewed in the anthropological sense as a spatial system of order developed over long periods of time under certain conditions, then today's interpretation of architecture becomes extremely problematic.

The top layer is lifted off and treated as something independent of the traditional phenomenon of 'architecture' and assigned to the architect for the purpose of 'subjectively creative design'. This 'subjective design' is nourished by very different and random fields which 'supply' the architect's image or which the architect as a subject works out for himself. The architect, in turn, is part of a relatively autocratic class, which consists of public and private builders, from the construction industry, also from art historians and corresponding journals and media, etc. The technical requirements are provided by the craft and industry. The 'research' takes place according to the art-historical model within the framework of art, aesthetics and style with reference to people, time periods or cultural-geographical regions. The final assessment of the building structure is also a matter for the art historian.

The traditional prerequisites of architecture, the elementary structures of the traditional order of life functions and modes of being in space are - from a civilizationally elevated point of view - rated as irrelevant and consequently ignored.

In contrast, anthropological architectural research shows us fundamental structural principles that are fundamentally connected to human existence in space. They provided essential impulses and models and formed essential elements of the culture.

Polarity of access route and architecturally designated place

Let us take a simple example: the polar assignment of path and place. Dagobert Frey (1949) examined the contradicting unity of access route and architecturally defined time across a broad Afro-Eur-Asian belt of sacred buildings such as churches and temples. His first and most important result is that this polar-harmonic basic structure is recognizable everywhere. This is true through very different cultures with very different architectures and even different religious systems. There is always the same and strict relationality of the cultically marked place and the way to it, whereby the last section of the way becomes part of the place itself, as it were, is assigned to it ambivalently.

The question arises: is this an elementary basic order of the human cultural area, which has held itself through the whole spectrum of elementary and higher and highest cultures through all forms? Is the Egyptian temple essentially a monumentally developed processional path marked with monumentalized plant columns towards the marked place of the Most Holy Place? Even in the Christian Weg Church this reference can still be heard: in the vertically transcendental apse space the altar, in front of it, directed towards this, the meeting room of the believers, the 'ship'. It is interpreted as the path to the sacrificial table. In contrast - portal - closure to the outside. The general social space. Is this the basic model of all premodern space that has remained relatively intact? Does it appear both in the sacred back corner of the European farmhouse and in the throne room of kings?

Is it also generally present in the premodern town house with the wall of the ancestral pictures, with showcases with pieces of jewelry, in front of the "throne" of the landlord and the corresponding seating arrangements for the family? In the end, is it also effective in all rooms in which cultural values ​​are passed on from certain instances to an audience, for example in the theater, in the opera house and music hall, but also in the lecture halls of universities?

The most amazing thing about the matter is its tremendous continuity. If you go one layer deeper into the rural village tradition in relation to Dagobert Frey, you come across this dominant polar relationship between placemark and access route, both with regard to the more developed shrine and with regard to the older, fibro-constructive cult brand. The whole village appears as a path towards this mark. The decisive factor is that the system can be read at this level. It is a central setting of boundaries with its social and aesthetic-philosophical implications. The whole village is essentially geared towards this 'time'. Location, place-gain, 'having a place', 'being in a place', other basic values ​​are attached to this basic value, in the most elementary case as here already, harmony, elementary aesthetics, 'heaven and earth 'still as a local unit.

Has this basic pattern of culturally high-quality placemarks and (settlement) routes related to them been preserved with tremendous tenacity through times and cultures? Have the civilized strata also attached their evaluations to this pattern established by tradition and thus preserved it through the ages? Even today in many places around the world! (Egenter 1994b)

With the modern age, these fundamental localization patterns have dissolved in the big cities. Today, space is interpreted homogeneously. The psychological control mechanisms associated with the way-place system have disappeared. Modern architecture has, as it were, tacitly programmed us to become macrocosmic astronauts. The representative building has become a symbol in the metropolitan skyline. The entrance has completely lost its meaning from a general outside world to a special world inside, with it an old structure of value assignment, which still survives in the sacred building, was lost.

Vertical polarity:
multicategorical opposites in the same form

Another example: vertical polarity. Under the title "The Historicism of Quantified Proportion" I wrote a critical article on Wittkower's book "Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism" (Egenter 1986a).

The main point is the thesis that the incompatibility of art and science and the one-sided rationalism of art history, especially in architecture, have essentially led to the rationalization and dehumanization of modern architecture.

In his book, Wittkower describes the understanding of architecture in the Renaissance as a fundamentally rationalist and dominant geometrical-mathematical attitude.

Against this thesis, Wittkower's generalizations, based mainly on written assessments of the Renaissance, are confronted with a method that, in contrast, draws its statements from the object world of architecture itself, which provides a completely different insight. Proportion appears in a not yet abstracted form as what is literally contained in the term, 'standing in front of'! Very elementary: A (undefined or completely different) part protrudes over a defined portion. We call this the 'vertical polarity'.