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What is architecture for?

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Malpas, J ORCID: 0000-0003-4378-8937 2017 , 'What is architecture for?' , International Journal of Architectural Theory, vol. 22, no. 36 , pp. 117-126 .

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Abstract

“What is it to build?” (Was ist zu bauen?), asks Martin Heidegger in ‘BuildingDwelling Thinking’. The question is one whose echoes can be heard in the title,as well as the text, of Karsten Harries’ The Ethical Function of Architecture,though as the title has it, the question at issue is not so much immediately directedat building, but at the closely related practice of architecture—“what isarchitecture for?”—and Harries’ answer is that what architecture is for (it’s“for the sake of which”, to use the language of Heidegger’s Being and Time) issomething ethical, which also means something concerned with the human.In this, Harries rejects, or at least treats as secondary, the idea of architecture’sfunction as primarily aesthetic—and even as primarily utilitarian (assumingthat the ethical and the utilitarian are indeed distinct). Although henever makes the point himself, the way Harries connects architecture, and soalso building, to the ethical seems implicitly to involve a reading of the questionof ‘Building Dwelling Thinking’ that draws it into close proximity withHeidegger’s earlier ‘Letter on “Humanism’”.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Malpas, J
Keywords: architecture, Heidegger
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Architectural Theory
Publisher: Wolkenkuckucksheim
ISSN: 1434-0984
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© 2017 European Association for Architectural Education

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