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- House Forms and Culture 1969 - Amos Rapoport
- House Form and Culture
- House Forms and Culture 1969 - Amos Rapoport
Problem w diffusion of popular culturechallenging traditional roles of women rapid changes in longestablished culutral values can lead to instability, and even violence, in a society.
House Forms and Culture 1969 - Amos Rapoport
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Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. The title of this series, Foundations of Cultural Ceography, represents its purpose well. Our huge and highly variegated store of knowledge about the ways that humans occupy and use their world becomes most meaningful when studied in the light of certain basic questions.
Uriginal studies of such basic questions make up this series of books by reading scholars in the field. The authors of the series report and evaluate current thought centered on the questions: How do widely different systems of ideas and practice influence what people do to recreate and utilize their lhabitats?
How do such systems of thought and habitat spread and evolve? How do human efforts actually change environments, and with what effects? These questions are approached comparatively, respecting the great range of choice and experience available to mankind.
They are treated historically as well, to trace and interpret and assess what man has done at various times and places. They are studied functionally, too, and whatever controlling processes and relationships they rn. Diverse tastes and talents govern the authors attack on these problems.
One QJS with religion as a system of ideas both influencing and reflecting environmental conditions. Another evaluates the role of belief and custom in reshaping plant and animal species to human purposes. Some consider the use and meaning of human creations, like houses or cities, in geographic context; others treat of the subtle and complex relationships with nature found in agricultrrral systems of many sorts.
All work toward an understanding of the same key problems. We invite the reader to participate actively in the critical rethinking by which scholarship moves forward. Mankinds dwellings hold a double fascination for the cultural geographer. Not only do they commonly contribute much to the distinctive character of landscapes, they also stand as the concrete expressions of a complex interaction among cultural skills and norms, climatic conditions, and the potentialities of natural materia!
Prcfessor Rapoport, a widely traveled architect, considers in this volume how the houses of the worPds people thus reflect the physical conditions of their environments, as well as cultural preferences and capabilities, in a wide variety of solutions to basic problems of house design. This book is the result of a number of years concern with primitive and vernacular buildings and settlements, from the point of view of the environmental designer. The forces that shape these dwellings and give them clearly identifiable characteristics, and their lessons for the present day, have been my primary interests.
Some of the ideas presented were explored in a number of courses-the first formally taught on this subject, as far as I know-and the students enthusiastic acceptance of them has encouraged me to further endeavors, as their criticisms have helped to clarify some of the ideas. Very little work has been done from the point of view adopted here, and this study must be exploratory. No book on such a vast subject can be final-and this one does not, in fact, represent a generally accepted or shared body of thought.
Rather, it is my personal interpretation of the evidence concerning the way in which people organize and use dwelling space. Many of the conclusions will, no doubt, have to be elaborated and revised in the future.
I am not concerned with unique cases or with the multiplicity of examples; there will be no attempt to cover the scattered references or vast related bibliography on specific places and topics. My main interest is in general features, as indeed it must be, given the serious limitations of space which the format imposes and the vastness of the subject, which includes most of what man has built since he began building.
With such a vast temporal and spatial distribution, there is an ever-present danger of becoming involved in too much detail. The book tries to propose a conceptual framework for looking at the great variety of house types and forms and the forces that affect them. It attempts to bring some order to this complex field and thus create a better understanding of the form determinants of dwellings.
This is a subject which overlaps many disciplines-architecture, culvii. It is therefore necessarily cross-disciplinary and must call on the work of many observers in diverse fields and reflect many intellectual debts. The area of my concern is new not only because my stress is on the buildings and their creation, but also because, in many of the fields mentioned, the topic of dwellings and settlements, while relevant, has been either neglected or treated as secondary.
When references to dwellings and settlements 0ccu. In attempting to deal with the broader aspects of house form, this book is addressed to all those concerned with the habitat of man. Reasons for study. Architectural theory and history have tra; sonally been concerned with the study of monuments, They have emphasized the work of men of genius, the unusual, the rare. Although this is only right, it has meant that we have tended to forget that the work of the designer, let alone of the designer of genius, has represented a small, often insignificant, portion of the building activity at any given period.
The physical environment of man, especially the built environment, has not been, and still is not, controlled by the designer. This environment is the result of vernacular or folk, or popular architecture, and it has been largely ignored in architectural history and theory, Yet it has been the environment of the Ath ens of the Acropolis, of the Maya cities and the towns next to Egyptian temples and tombs or around Gothic cathedrals-as it has been of remote villages and islands, whether of Greece or the South Seas.
In addition, the high style buildings usually must be seen in relation to, and in the context of, the vernacular matrix, and are in fact incomprehensible outside that context, especially as it existed at the time they were designed and built. In archeology, the interest shifted a while ago from temples, palaces, and tombs to the whole city as an expression of a culture and a way of life, although the house, the most typically vernacular building type, is still frequently ignored.
Similar shifts have taken place in general history, in the history of art, and in that of music, to an extent. In architecture, however, such an interest is only now starting, and it has not yet gone very far nor beyond the purely visual. It is therefore a topic which has been rather neglected.
This neglect of the bulk of the built environment, the tendency to see mud hovels or insignificant grass shacks where there are, in fact, buildings of great quality with much to teach us, has given rise to two 1. This approach suggests that architecture is to be found only in the monuments and that there is a difference in the way one judges a masterpiece, whether of the past or of today, as compared to the house in which one lives, or in which the peasant lived; the Royal plaza and the street which led to it, or of ones own street.
Yet we must loolc at the whole environment in order to understand it, and it is in this sense that we must study the history of built form. If we look at only the smallest part of the work, that part tends to assume undue importance; if we look at it in isolation, we cannot grasp its complex and subtle relation to the vernacular matrix with which it forms a total spatial and hierarchic system. Neglect of the vernacular buildings which form the environment has had the effect of making the latter seem unimportant; it is consequently neglected physically and constantly deteriorates.
What then do we Illcan by folk architecture and by the terms primitive and uernaculur as they apply to building forms? It is possible, first of all, to distinguish between buildings belonging to the grand design tradition and those of the folk traditi0n.
The folk tradition, on the other hand, is the direct and unself-conscious translation into physical form of a culture, its needs and values-as well as the desires, dreams, and passions of a people.
It is the world view writ small, the ideal environment of a people expressed in buildings and settlements, with no designer, artist, or architect with an axe to grind although to what extent the designer is really a form giver is a moot point.
The folk tradition is much more closely related to the culture of the majority and life as it is really lived than is the grand design tradition, which represents the culture of the elite. The folk tradition also represents the bulk of the built environment.
In the latter, pp. This ap lies to man fields-music, religion, to any medicine, literature, and others-but has not lizeen applie d to architecture extent. See Constantinos A.
Doxiadis, Architecture in Transition Hutchinson, Ltd. The maximum, he estimates, is London: reached in England where architects may be responsible for 40 per cent of the buildings. In most of the world their influence is precisely nil p.
Most buildings are built by the people or by tradesmen. Present-day design, while part of the grand design tradition, is characterized by a greater degree of institutionalization and specialization. Primitive is much easier to define than vernacular. Neither vernacular nor ansnymozls is a very satisfactory term for identifying this foml of architecture. The French architecture populaire may be the most satisfactory. It refers largely to certain technological as well as economic levels of development, but also includes aspects of social organization.
The term primitiue, therefore, does not refer to the builders intentions or abilities, but rather to the society in which they build. It is of course a relative term; to future societies we will undoubtedly appear rather primitive. Redfield points out that in primitive societies there is a diffuse knowledge of everything by all, and every aspect of tribal life is everybodys business5 There is no technical vocabulary, because there is little specialization beyond age and sex-although some specialization in religious knowledge is occasionally found.
This is, of course, linked to Redfields definition of primitive as preliterate,s and in terms of building this implies that everyone is capable of building his own dwelling-and usually does. Trades are hardly differentiated, and the average family has all the available technical knowledge. Any member of the group can build the buildings which the group needs, although in many cases, for social as well as technical reasons, this is done cooperatively by a larger group.?
Vernacular is defined as indigenous, used by the people; anonymous as of unknown authorship; folk as masses of the people in the lower culture, and originated or wide1 used among common peohple.
The division into primitive, vernacular, and grand design tradition may, indeed, correspond to Redfields and Sjobergs division into three types of societies-folk, peasant or traditional, and civilized.
Gould and W. Kolb, eds. In Melanesia, houses are built individually while the chiefs houses and sacred canoe houses are built by the village as a whole and are the concern of the village. In general, however, it has been suggested that primitive societies despise specialized labor and that this. Since the average member of the group builds his own house, he understands his needs an, requirements perfectly; any problems that arise will affect him personally and be dealt with. There are, of course,, prescribed ways of doing and not doing things.
Certain forms are taken for granted and strongly resist change, since societies like these tend to be very tradition oriented. This explains the close relation between the forms and the culture in which they are embedded, and also the fact that some of these forms persist for very long periods of time.
With this persistence the model is finally adjusted until it satisfies most of the cultural, physical, and maintenance requirements. This model is fully uniform, and in a primitive society all the dwellings are basically identical.
As I have suggested, a satisfactory definition of vernacular is more difficult. At the moment, the most successful way of describing it seems to be in terms of process-how it is designed and built.
When building tradesmen are used for construction of most dwellings, we may arbitrarily say that primitive building gives way to preindustrial vernucu? The peasant owner is still very much a participant in the design process, not merely a consumr; this applies to the townsman of a preindustrial culture to a greater extent than it does to the townsman of today, since participation tends to decrease with urbanization and greater specialization.
This change to the use of tradesmen marks the beginning of the process of increasing specialization of trades, although at the outset of this process the tradesman is such only part-time, and is still also a peasant. The two methods of building may, in fact, coexist as they do in the primitive context. In preindustrial vernacular the accepted form still exists, thus offering a way of arriving at a definition of vernacular by looking at the design process.
The vernacular design process is one of models and adjustments or variations, and there is more individual variability and differentiat n than in primitive buildings; it is the individual specimens that are modified, not the type.
House Form and Culture
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Reproduction of this microfiche document in any form is subject to the same restrictions as those of the original document. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprodrrced in any form OT by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. The title of this series, Foundations of Cultural Ceography, represents its purpose well. Our huge and highly variegated store of knowledge about the ways that humans occupy and use their world becomes most meaningful when studied in the light of certain basic questions.
House Forms and Culture 1969 - Amos Rapoport
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