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Barie Fez-Barringten

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Architecture is an art because, as art, it too, makes metaphors
by Barie Fez-Barringten   
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Last edited: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Posted: Friday, August 03, 2012

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Eighty two issues and claims, where each claim has been derived from a corresponding issue, built the case for the resolution of the argument about the controversy that architecture is an art resolved that architecture was the making of metaphors because it (architecture) made metaphors, personified by metaphor stasis’ two technical and conceptual dimensions. Both are valid separately and even more usual in combination. But how do these two work, and, how does this knowledge benefit design, use and evaluation of built works? The claims and issues were derived by examining Andrew Ortony’s Metaphor and Thought and works by Paul Weiss, William J. Gordon and the Yale lecture series on the same subject. While many arguments can be tailored to a specific audience others can be generic and shared. When they are shared the issues and claims supporting the resolution would be broad in range, maximized and amplified. Amplified by number and range to hedge against the heterogeneity of the audience. However what was valid for Ortony will be valid for this effort, and a complete, comprehensive and coordinated approach will further understanding.
Published: Main Currents in Modern Thought/Center for Integrative Education; Sep.-Oct. 1971, Vol. 28 No.1, New Rochelle, New York.

 The major question at the heart of the controversy is architecture an art?  And, if so, why?  And the resolution stasis answer is because it is the making of metaphors. This implies that both art and architecture have a commonality in that they both make metaphors.  The problem can be stated in the wider context of all man-created services and products, and includes the aesthetic, social, cultural and psychological relations we have with our man-made environment. This is complex argument, where a major question which begets, has (issues) many minor questions. As I’ve said these issues are questions inherent in a controversy and vital to the success of the resolution.

These issues are also implicit in the resolution and were located in different ways:

  • Located by examining the text of the resolution(“architecture is the making of metaphors”)
  • Located by examining the underlying context (“art”)
  • Derived from a pattern of claims and responses (“architecture is an art because of its value, technique, icons, identity, and authenticity”.

The resolution could have been either a stasis in conjecture is whether the act occurred or a stasis in quality concerned with whether the act concerns conjecture and definition. However architecture as the making of metaphor is stasis in definition concerned what the act should be called and implicitly concedes conjecture and is supported by the claims resulting from each of the issues.

This conjecture is each and inference from the issue to the claim. This is why the argument is complex and must be taken as whole as reasoned below. Since the resolution/Stasis: Architecture is art because it too makes metaphors states the answer to why is architecture an art? Without the reasoned issues/claims becoming the definition of why architecture is an art educators, practitioners, clients, and users cannot with a high degree of certainty equate, judge, and negotiate works of architecture. They are concerned about the fiduciary role between owners and contactors, educators, practitioners, clients, and users who could dilute the certainty and value of the architect’s contract documents with the ambiguity and uncertainty of art.  Indeed, this current line of reasoning is inductive and has a degree of uncertainty as opposed to the deductive and presumably certain, much of law, statutes, licensing, specifications, and contract documents presume certainty. Actually in the administration, arbitration and trial of the construction contract they too have their share of uncertainty.

This reasoning should solve the problem and on balance improve the standards of the field as promulgated by arts and architectural societies, licensing board and regulating authorities. As metaphors, topoi and conventions can affect practice at the very least by sharpening already existing practice of making metaphors where contemporary metaphors are things of value, technical, iconic, identifiable and antithetic.

Manufacturers of such basics as steel, bricks and windows as well as master builders are less concerned with generic labels for themselves and their work, class or academic identifications. It is the referees of culture that face the commonalities and differences of our society to reckon our social mores and folklores. This reckoning is what produces the curriculums for schools, colleges, and universities as well as research, development and government licensing and regulating agencies.

As architects are schooled, apprenticed, tested and licensed the field is faced each year with continuing education, new technologies and contemporary social ideals. The best of our culture produces authentic and original prototypes, leaving cloning and emulation to others.  It is why art is a significant contributor to society. Because art and architecture is such a huge subject encompassing many different facets of our culture, science and technologies it is worthwhile to have an objective resolution and supporting issues to value works. Richard Meier says that architecture is the greatest of all the arts. A wider definition often includes the design of the total built environment, from the macro level of how a building integrates with its surrounding context like town planning, urban design, and landscape architecture to the micro level of architectural or construction details and, sometimes, furniture and hardware. Wider still, architecture is the activity of designing any kind of system. Even though our culture considers architecture to be a visual experience, the other senses play a role in how we experience both natural and built environments. Attitudes towards the senses depend on culture. The design process and the sensory experience of a space are distinctly separate views, each with its own language and assumptions.

Architectural works are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and, sometimes, as Work of art. Historical civilizations are often known primarily through their architectural achievements. There is no lack of questions, investigations and reasoning about architecture likening it to building supervision to the master minding of the great pyramids and contemporary iconic supersaturates.

Likening architecture to one of the other sciences, arts, philosophies, etc is trying to see it through one or the other prisms, perspectives to reconcile it into our cultural vocabulary. Depending on the architecture being viewed architecture many sometimes seem very scientific as science fiction, or artistic when viewing the architecture of Rome or the renaissance. The proposition that architecture is the making of metaphors is quest for a generic one size-fits-all theorem to stasis the question with the topoi of architecture for all times, building types and systems. It should even work when the term is not applied to making buildings or landscape but also computers, programs, communications systems and military strategy. 

The Answer:

Architecture is an art, because like art, it too, makes metaphors which are a stasis because “architecture as the making of metaphors” enables the center of the dispute to be argued with common purpose. So this is a stasis in definition which concedes conjecture. While there may be other concepts justifying the relationship between art and architecture the metaphor is the stasis, common ground and apparent commonality. It not only is apparent but with wide and broad applications to a variety of arts and architectural definitions, practices and contexts. There may have been a time when the architect was the “master builder” and the lead craftsman but for most that is only true by his skill in drawing, design and specifying and not his skill as a master carpenter.

The metaphor stasis is metaphor’s two technical and conceptual dimensions.  Both are valid separately and even more acceptable in combination.  But how do they two operate and how does knowing this benefit design, use and evaluation of built works? The technical is that all art, including architecture, expresses one thing in terms of another by its inherent and distinct craft.  On the one hand there is the architect who acts as the master builder (head carpenter); and on the other the fountain of conceptual metaphors which expresses ideas as built conceptual metaphors other wise known as works of architecture. Techne is actually a system of practical knowledge as a craft or art informed by knowledge of forms.  For  example,  the craft of managing a firm of architects where even virtue is a kind of technê of management and design practice, one that is based on an understanding of the profession, business and market. In this case the technai are such activities as drafting, specifying, managing, negotiating, programming, planning, supervising, and inspection.  By association with these technai, we can include house-building, mathematics, plumbing, making money, writing, and painting.  So much so that the study and practice of design is devoid from the humanities and downplays theories of architecture;  developing rather the crafts, skill and understandings needed to engineer, plan, sketch, draw, delineate, specify, write, and design. Contemporary architecture is replete with axioms, principles and theorems guiding the geometry, applications of science, use of engineering, and formal logic to produce technical metaphors and justly excluding a whole conversation about the conceptual part of the built metaphor.

Therefore out of both the resolution and the controversy consider the below issues: We derive issues for the controversy between art and architecture and the resolution that they both make metaphors which is both their commonality, stasis, topoi and resolution to all claims. Depending on the medium, application and utility art manifests itself through the metaphor in varying degrees and levels.  The referents, commonality not connectivity may not always be apparent as in so-called “abstract art” and ‘brutalism architecture”.  These issues are the questions inherent in the controversy and vital to the resolution that architecture is the making of metaphors. Inherent because the declarative nether defines how art makes neither metaphors nor the apparently unrelated manifestations of architecture. On face value art and its casual referents do not compare to architecture and architecture does not always link to art. So the declaration is inherently controversial thus yielding the overflow of its internal commonalities and differences. These issues are vital to the inductive reasoning of the resolution. Most of these issues are parallel but there are some that are convergent. The issues are coupled with their corresponding parallel claim supporting the resolution, parallel because they are neither a series nor convergent claims as they are each independent and not progressive nor interrelated to each other. Presumably, most of these issues grew out of controversy but not all issues were contested, therefore some are uncontested leaving a few controversial issues, they will be apparent in the below process.



There are 82 issues which have been combined together with their resulting claims and are each numbered consecutively with [numbered] or small italicized font references to footnotes and [lettered] references below. In my other works I have called these axioms and sub-axioms as they were reasoned differently. I also use italicized script where I quote the author.

The Issues are subdivided into five sections numbered with roman numerals distinguishing the dominant disciplines of each as:

I.  Philosophy, Linguistics, Psychology, and English.

II. Urban Studies and Planning, Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Experimental Psychology, Psychology and Opinion Research.

III. Psychology, Special Education, Social Policy, Learning Sciences, and Education

IV. Psychology, Philosophy, Linguistics, and Cognitive Science.

V. Psychology, Education, and Applied Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.

All the below issues argue the case that architecture is art because it too makes metaphors. These issues are the relevant and strong reasons of why architecture is making of metaphors. There is only 1 reason why architecture is an art and that is because it makes metaphors. (Technical and conceptual).But, what are the underlying (common) metaphorical facts common to art and architecture why architecture could be in the same family as art.

Each of the below either argue or presume that:  

  • Since art and architecture share in the way they make metaphors then one must like the other; and
  • There can be fields and sub-fields where the subfields share dominant characteristics.
  • That certain of metaphor’s characteristics exercised in art are also exercised in all other arts.
  • That in the making of any art, including architecture,  the making of metaphors sanctifies products and processes; and,
  • That the metaphoric process exercised in the making of a work of architecture transforms the process and the work from non-art to art, and the maker from manufacturer to artist. 





Web Site: Architecture is an art because, as art, it too, makes metaphors

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