What Are Buildings For?


James Kalb has recently interviewed mathematician and architectural theorist Nikos Salingaros.  As someone who has always been irritated when people mistakenly think it the job of “science” to invent more and shinier consumer crap, I particularly appreciate the following remarks of Professor Salingaros: 

Our educated world remains ignorant about the distinction between science and technology, unfortunately.  Science helps us understand the universe and ourselves.  Technology applies scientific results to master processes that we can manipulate so as to better our lives.  It is also applied to kill people directly, destroy nature, and threaten our own survival.  Or to save us from our stupidity.  Tools can be used for either good or evil.

Modernism in my view was a massive but unscientific application of technology to shape the world into an industrial dream image.  It was unscientific because no thought was ever given to discovering how human beings interact with their environment, or whether we need certain specific geometrical features just like we need nourishment and air, or to understanding how human beings interact with each other to create a city.  Modernist architects just drew forms on paper that looked like machines and those in power built them.

The entire interview is available via The Philadelphia Society.

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