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14 Housing Typology Courtyard 02

14 Housing Typology Courtyard 02

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Published by Angela Palmitessa

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Published by: Angela Palmitessa on Nov 16, 2012
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A housing Typology
 Atelier04/studio04Hand-out term 2Extract from: Courtyard housesGünter Pfeifer and Per Brauneck editor Birkhäuser Publisher 
[Typology is an] approach that isolates the attributes of the architectural coher-ence, identifies them as characteristics, in order to then compare them withsimilarly abstracted attributes from other contexts and to define similarities or differences. Since Quatremère de Quincy at the latest, the history of architecturehas described this kind of approach by the term typology, and understands it asthe abstraction of formal attributes into a principle, called type, that describesthe commonalities of a series of different, but historically concrete models. Fromthe beginning, this systematic and abstracted view includes the possibilities of aguideline for action beyond literal imitation (“imitation par principe “) as well as atool for comparative architectural criticism.
Sorting perceptions according to certain recurring characteristics and principles isan important element of cognitive process. To derive standards from it and to sys-tematise certain patterns are two principles that not only form the basis of everyscience but also of the human capability to perceive and communicate.To reduce perceptions to certain recurring patterns, regular geometries or har-monies is a universal principle; therefore, the term typology has a long history inarchitecture and architectural theory. In this light, typologies in architecture docu-ment the changing requirement profiles of certain buildings or spatial systems.There are different typological categories. Typologies on an urban planning leveldeal with blocks, row or detached houses; building typologies examine residentialdwellings, farmhouses, theatres or industrial plants, and floor plan typologies aresignificantly characterised by the access system. While the room as a functionalspace with a specific assignment is a relatively constant unit irrespective of itssize, the typology of circulation areas correlates individual rooms and, throughdifferent floor plans, creates different types such as patio houses, apartmenthouses providing access to various numbers of flats, houses with exterior cor-ridors, etc.However, a typologically oriented approach or work method begins long beforethe categorisation of certain types of appearance. “ ...The type, a knowledge-able typologist once said, is not invented, not designed, not developed. The typeemerges, grows, culminates, decays, flattens . Types are ‘organically’ concrete.These terms might seem diffuse, might lead in the wrong direction; but they ac-curately highlight the difference between type and an objective prototype.”
,When consulting an encyclopedia
, we learn that the term “ type” derives from theGreek word “ typos” meaning imprint and originally meant the imprint on a coin .Later, the term stood for archetype, antetype, pattern or figure; in fact it referredto both the real figure as well as that of archetypes or ideas existing in the spiri-tual world. In typological science, the term typology can be understood as a termpurely used to classify individuals within a group - as for example in zoology or botany - or on the contrary as a term for an ideal. Hereby, most often a distinctionis made between the most frequent average type of one group of items or per-sons and the ideal type. Since the ancient world, philosophy has understood theidea of type in the sense of a generally characteristic archetypal figure underlyingan individual element: Plato understood it as an idea, Aristotle as a shape, theMiddle Ages as a being . Typology as the science of type therefore is a scientificdescription and a classification of a field of items into groups of unitary complexesof characteristics.In his essay “On Typology’” Rafael Moneo gives an overview of the research of typology in architecture. For Moneo, the question of typology shakes the founda-tion of architecture. The concept of the archetype defines the current architecturalobject in relation to its origin . Insofar, the typology theory is a theory of the es-sential, the beginnings of architecture.
On the one hand, the architectural object forms a self-contained unit, unique andnot further reducible; on the other hand, it can be seen as “one among many”,building on a few repeating, in principle equal elements. Also, the process thatproduces architecture is originally based on repeatability, just like any other tech-nical process. Furthermore, our entire way of thinking and seeing is controlled bytypological perception patterns that are based on repetitions. Our language aswell is structured in such a way that it sorts comparable objects into groups andthereby systematises them. Ultimately, the entire human structure of perceptionis based “a priori” on typologies. A type belongs to a group of objects of the sameformal structure. To differentiate between types means to sort individual elementsof the same structure into a certain group. This sorting process, which at thesame time is a thought process, runs on different levels with different degrees of accuracy. Uniqueness originates from the countless possibilities to create rela-tionships between individual typological elements. By using this linking process,architecture is created in the same way it is perceived. The result is a direct inner connection between man and object. At the beginning of the typological examination stands the desire to simplify, re-ducing shapes to their basic geometries. However, typology relates to much morethan to the reduction of formal geometries. The spectrum of typological examina-tion options ranges from construction details to socio-political interrelations. Ty-pological order, therefore, is no singular phenomenon, but rather it characterisesthe manifold forms of appearance of the built environment. The complex interre-lations between individual elements is re-materialised depending on the respec-tive context. The type is not a device to justify mechanical repetition. Typologicalexaminations rather form the framework for a dialectic discourse within the historyof construction, which generates the “new “ by transforming the “old.” The processof the transformation of a type is the result of changing user requirements, leapsin scale, overlap of different types, a modified context, or other mechanisms. Antoine Quatremère de Quincy
was the first to formulate the idea of a typologicalarchitecture at the end of the 18th century. At that time, social and technical in-novations called into question the traditional role of architecture. Typologies wereperceived by considering the logics of form, the intellect, changing user require-ments and their historical development.During the 19th century, Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand
interpreted typology in thesense of an exemplary prototype. He comprehends the type as a mechanismstanding between form and building program. His theory concentrates on com-position and arrangement. Durand tries to derive the composition from functionalinterrelations, and thus wants to overcome the restraints of the traditional formcanon. By the end of the century, the Beaux-Arts school further developed thisinterpretation of the type as a stylistic device. The emergence of architectureschools created an increasing demand for a standardised curriculum. Durandtried to satisfy this requirement with catalogued typologies.Modernity broke the continuity of using typologies. Form, content and mean-ing in architecture became detached. The exterior appearance of architecturedeveloped into an independent category and the architectural object into a frag-ment that is unhinged from its context and the historical development process.Modernity rejected anything that , in whatever way, invoked history. Therefore,it dismissed the idea of a type as well. Design was to start from scratch, and thearchitectural object was to become an industrial product. Recurring elements or manufacturing methods were not conceived typologically, but rather in terms of industrial mass production. However, with Le Corbusier at the latest the contradic-tion between the architectural artefact on the one hand and the industrial proto-type on the other became apparent. Due to the comparison of architecture withindustrial production, the typology concept had to be re-interpreted.

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