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Barie Fez-Barringten

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Axiom metaphors influencing architecture
By Barie Fez-Barringten   
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Last edited: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Posted: Saturday, August 04, 2012

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Techne is actually a system of practical knowledge. As a craft or art technę which is informed by knowledge of forms such as the craft of managing a firm of architects where even virtue is a kind of technę of management and design practice, one that is based on an understanding of the profession, business and market and 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.


If the facade of a building is designed in one order of architecture you can presume the other parts are in like arrangements where the whole may be of that same order including its’ plan, section and details because of mapping and channeling one idea from one level to another. Frank Lloyd Wright designed his prairie architecture with dominant horizontal axis thrust to his structure as common to the horizontal axis of the land upon which the building sat. In geometrical formal parts of an architectural metaphor we note those common elements where fit, coupling and joints occur.

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                            These axioms indicated by Roman numerals are self-evident principles that are accepted on face-value as true basis for argument since they have already been proven and described by the noted referent for each. Here they are postulates (or inferences) without their warrants. As such each is noted as to source and location for reference gleaned from “Metaphor and Thought” (footnoted as 1._._ throughout).There additional references noted in the footnotes. The footnotes are sub-axioms meant to both support the axiom while also being useful as an independent principle. The below axioms are predominantly derived from “Metaphors and Thought” by Andrew Ortony, earlier mentoring by Dr. Paul Weiss and are in addition to over forty years of work about my stasis to architecture as art being that “architecture as the making of metaphors” (please see background below after the monograph for your information).

                           Axioms (shown in Roman numerals) are self-evident principles that I have derived out of Ortony’s Metaphor and Thought[1.0] and accept as true without proof as the basis for future arguments; a postulates or inferences including their warrants (which I have footnoted as 1._._ throughout).These axioms are in themselves clarification, enlightenment, and illumination removing ambiguity where the derivative reference (Ortony) has many applications. Hopefully, these can be starting points from which other statements can be logically derived. Unlike theorems, axioms cannot be derived by principles of deduction as I wrote: "The metametaphor theorem" published by Architectural Scientific Journal, Vol. No. 8; 1994 Beirut Arab University.

                      The below axioms define properties for the domain of a specific theory which evolved out of the stasis defending architecture as an art and in that sense, a” postulate" and "assumption" . Thusly, I presume to axiomatize a system of knowledge to show that these claims can be derived from a small, well-understood set of sentences (the axioms). “Universality, Global uniqueness, Sameness, Identity, and Identity abuse” are just some of the axioms of web architecture. Francis Hsu of Rutgers writes that “Software Architecture Axioms is a worthy goal. First, let's be clear that software axioms are not necessarily mathematical in nature”. Furthermore, in his book titled The Book of Architecture Axioms Gavin Terrill wrote: “Don't put your resume ahead of the requirements Simplify essential complexity; diminish accidental complexity; You're negotiating more often than you think ;It's never too early to think about performance and resiliency testing; Fight repetition; Don't Control, but Observe and Architect as Janitor”.

                       In “Axiomatic design in the customizing home building industry published by Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management; 2002;vol 9; issue 4;page 318-324 Kurt Psilander wrote that “the developer would find a tool very useful that systematically and reliably analyses customer taste in terms of functional requirements (FRs). Such a tool increases the reliability of the procedure the entrepreneur applies to chisel out a concrete project description based on a vision of the tastes of a specific group of customers. It also ensures that future agents do not distort the developer's specified FRs when design parameters are selected for the realization of the project. Axiomatic design is one method to support such a procedure. This tool was developed for the manufacturing industry but is applied here in the housing sector. Some hypothetical examples are presented”. Aside from building-architect’s axioms directing that “form follows function”; follow manufacturers requirements and local codes and ordinances, AIA standards for professional practice architectural axioms are few and far between. Each has been summarized, paraphrased and translated into architectural terms.

Axioms:

Axiom I.

Parte, model and concept:

                             After assimilating the program in the process of making a habitable conceptual metaphor, the very first step in the design process is to develop a “parte’ as [A] 3.0 (presumptive) resolutions of the argument. It is a “top-down” approach later followed by designs which meet the parte. Alternatively, the parte may follow the design process and be presented to defend the design. The 1.1 generative metaphor is “carrying –over” perspectives from one domain of experience to another where you build one thing in terms of another where the other is the model, and, what you build is the application, the model being the “ideal” of the proposed design. While architects may initially state an ideal, it most likely evolves and even radically changes by the time the design process yields an architectural configuration (building manifestation). Once achieved the “parte” (concept/gestalt) manifests and can be articulated.

Axiom II. 1.2.1 Peculiarization, personalization and authentication are required for a metaphor to live. This the way the user metaphorize the using process, the user and the work empathize. In this is the art of making metaphors for the architect of public works. His metaphor must “read” the cultural, social and rightness of the metaphor’s proposed context. A dead metaphor is one which really does not contain any fresh metaphor insofar as it does not really “get thoughts across”; designs without concerns for scale, hierarchies, scenarios, surprise, delight, vistas, etc will be “dead”. They are “techne” driven, engineering a building without metaphoric concerns. Such a work is a techne driven design with craft-like knowledge. Techne is actually a system of practical knowledge. As a craft or art technê which is informed by knowledge of forms such as 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 and 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.

Axiom III. . 1.2.2/1.2.3 A conduit is a minor framework which overlooks words as containers and allows ideas and feelings to flow, unfettered and completely disembodied, into a kind of ambient space between human heads. Irregardless of the details the overall concept is “transferred “from one to the other, irrespective of sub-dominant and tertiary design elements. 1.2.2/1.2.3 Conduit City-wide metaphor: Geometry of urban blocks and the location of building masses that reflect one anther is a scheme to sharply define the volume and mass of the city block and experience of city streets (Vincent Scully). In New York City the grid and this insistence on buildings reflecting the geometry of the grid is a metaphor of city-wide proportions. The streets are defined by the 90 degree corners, planes and tightness of the cubes and rectangles to the city plan. In this way the metaphor of the overall and each building design no mater where it’s location on the block; no matter when or in what sequence the metaphoric constraint of appropriateness or zoning formulas, all lead the ideas to flow from one to another architect. Furthermore, the reader is able to “appreciate” (to attach importance to a thing because of its worth) the street, its geometry, limits and linearity as an idea on the 1.2.2/1.2.3 conduit from the architect, through the metaphor and to the reader.

Axiom IV. Architecture shapes the culture. Building shapes and forms tend to reflect common geometry; building types tend to share common facilities; building code use designations influence the selection of applicable code requirements, architecture, forming clusters and community spaces create opportunities for neighborhood identity and nurturing cultural identity. 1.3“It's a strange thought, that culture is a product of man-made, unnatural things, that instead of culture shaping the architecture, architecture shapes the culture.

Axiom V. Metaphor is a mental image. 1.4 Metaphor maps the structure of one domain onto the structure of another”. 1.4.1 for example, the “superimposition of the image of an hour glass onto the image of a woman’s waist by virtue of their common shape”. As before the metaphor is conceptual; it is not the works themselves, but the mental images. In this case metaphor is a mental image. “Each metaphorical mapping preserves image-schema structure:” In acting it is called a” handle” where your whole character’s peculiarity is remember by one acting device (accent, slang, twang, wiggle, walk, snort, etc) ;in architecture the building’s roof top, cladding, silhouette, interior finishes, lighting, gargoyles, entrance, rounded corners, etc. If the facade of a building is designed in one order of architecture you can presume the other parts are in like arrangements where the whole may be of that same order including its’ plan, section and details because of mapping and channeling one idea from one level to another. Frank Lloyd Wright designed his prairie architecture with dominant horizontal axis thrust to his structure as common to the horizontal axis of the land upon which the building sat. In geometrical formal parts of an architectural metaphor we note those common elements where fit, coupling and joints occur.

Axiom VI. Seperation: Since metaphor is the main mechanism through which we comprehend abstract concepts and perform abstract reasoning: 1.4.3 what is built is first thought and conceived separately from building, as thinking and conceiving is separate from the outward expression, so metaphor is a process and architectural metaphor is a process and what we see is what the process issues; not the manifest metaphor.

Axiom VII. The metaphor-building clarifies our place, status and value. As Metaphor is the main mechanism through which we comprehend abstract concepts and perform abstract reasoning so works of architecture inform our social, psychological and political condition.

Axiom VIII. 1.4.4 Much subject matter, from the most mundane to the most abstruse scientific theories, can only be comprehended via metaphor. The metaphor is engrafted with knowledge about the state of contemporary technology, scientific advancement, social taste and community importance, even an anonymous Florentine back ally’s brick wall, carved door, wall fountain, shuttered windows, building height, coloration of the fresco.

Axiom IX. 1.4.5 Metaphor is fundamentally conceptual, not linguistic in nature. It is the difference between the thing and what we perceive. Our perception of the building is the metaphor while the building is the evidence of the design process and the keys to unlock our mind.

Axiom X. 1.4.6 Metaphorical language (building) is a surface manifestation of conceptual (program, design and contact documents) metaphor. The built metaphor is the residue, excrement, product and periphery of the deep and complex reality of the building’s creative process and extant reality. As we don’t know the inner workings of our car and yet are able to drive so we can use our building. What we design and what we read not the metaphor but a surface manifestation of the concept metaphor. A concept which we can only know as well as we is able to discern metaphorical language. The construction and the metaphor beneath are mapped by the building being the manifestation of the hidden conceptual metaphor. To know the conceptual metaphor we must read the building.

Axiom XI. 1.4.7 Through much of our conceptual system is metaphorical; a significant part of it is non-metaphorical. Metaphorical understanding is grounded in non-metaphorical understanding. Our primary experiences grounded in the laws of physics of gravity , plasticity, liquids, winds, sunlight, etc all contribute to our metaphorical understanding often the conceptual commonality accepting the strange .

Axiom XII. 1.4.8 Metaphor allows us to understand a relatively abstract or inherently unstructured subject matter in terms of a more concrete, or at least, more highly structured subject matter. A structured building is a structured subject offering access to relatively abstract and unstructured subject matter. The whole of the conceptual metaphor is designed in such a way as to clarify, orient and provide “concrete” reification of all the design parameters into a “highly structured’ work; a work which homogenizes all these diverse and disjointed systems and operations into a well working machine. Hence architects translate their architectural conception from philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc into two dimensional scaled drawings and then to real-life full-scale multi dimensions conventions consisting of conventional materials, building elements (doors, windows, stairs, etc).

Axiom XIII. Commonalities are the keys to mapping across conceptual domains Sifting through the program the architect seeks the “commonality” between the reality and experience to make the metaphor. Mapping is only possible when he knows the “commonplace”, the commonality, the characteristic common to both, the terms that both the source and the target have in common in which the mapping takes place. The architect’s design agenda and the user’s requirements find both their commonalities and differences. As the architect structures his program, design and specifications he simultaneously structures the metaphor of his work of architecture. Architecture consists of program specifics where the conditions, operations, goals and ideals are from heretofore unrelated and distant contexts but are themselves metaphors “mapped across conceptual domains”. Architects translate their architectural conception from philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc into two dimensional scaled drawings and then to real life full scale multi dimensions conventions consisting of conventional materials, building elements (doors, windows, stairs, etc).1.4.9 As maps are the result of cartographers rendering existing into a graphics for reading so is mapping to the reading of metaphors where the reader renders understanding from one source to another. As the cartographer seeks lines, symbols and shadings to articulate the world reality so the reader’s choices of heretofore unrelated and seemingly unrelated are found to have an essence common to both the reality and the rendition so that the metaphor can be repeated becoming the readers new vocabulary. As the reader can describe the route he can identify the building. 1.4. 10

Each mapping (where mapping is the systematic set of correspondences that exist between constituent elements of the source and the target domain) Many elements of target concepts come from source domains and are not preexisting. To know a conceptual metaphor is to know the set of mappings that applies to a given source-target pairing. The same idea of mapping between source and target is used to describe analogical reasoning and inferences, for example, reception area to receive people, doors and door frames, columns as vertical supports, parking spaces for cars, Iron and stained glass design patterns, and typical design details appropriated for a given building system. 1.4.11 Aside from articulating a program architects carry-over their experiences with materials, physics, art, culture, building codes, structures, plasticity, etc. to form a metaphor. Identifying conditions, operations, ideals and goals are combined to form plans, sections and elevations which are then translated in to contract documents.

Later the contractors map this metaphor based on their schemes of cost, schedule and quality control into schedules and control documents. It is not until equipment, laborers and materials are brought to the side that the metaphor starts to form. Once formed the only evidence for the user (reader) are the thousands of cues from every angle, outside and inside to enable use and understanding. An informed user can read the building’s history from its inception to opening day. 1.4.11 The scale of habitable metaphors is the intrinsic relation between the human figure and his surroundings as measured, proportioned and sensed. It is dramatically represented by Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. 1.4.11 It seems that onomatopeics are metaphors and can be onomatopoeic (grouping of words that imitates the sound it is describing, suggesting its source object, such as "click", "bunk", "clang", "buzz", "bang", or animal noises such as "oink", "moo", or "meow"). In this case an assemblage instead of a sound. As a non-linguistic it has impact beyond words and is still a metaphor.

Then a metaphor is much more than the sum of its parts and is beyond any of its constituent constructions, parts and systems. The buildings’ very existence is a metaphor and may not be valued much more than an onomatopoeic. 1.4.12 a. Mappings are not arbitrary, but grounded in the body and in every day experience and knowledge. b. Mapping and making metaphors are synonymous. c. The person and not the work make the metaphor. Without the body and the experience of either the author or the reader nothing is being made. The thing does not have but the persons have the experiences. As language, craft, and skills are learned by exercise, repetition and every day application so are mappings. Mappings are not subject to individual judgment or preference: but as a result of making seeking and finding the commonality by practice. d. In this way making metaphors is the process of empathizing. 1.4.13 A conceptual system contains thousands of conventional metaphorical mappings which form a highly structured subsystem of the conceptual system.

Over the year’s society, cultures, families and individuals experience and store a plethora of mapping routines which are part of society’s mapping vocabulary. As a potential user, when encountering a new building-type, such as a hi-tech manufacturing center, we call upon our highly structured subsystem to find conceptual systems which will work to navigate this particular event. 1.4.11 Architecture as a surrogate is accepted at face value. As a surrogate (a work of architecture) is "a replacement that is used as a means for transmitting benefits from a context in which its’ user may not be a part”, architecture’s metaphor bridge from the program, designs and contactors to a shelter and trusted habitat. The user enters and occupies the habitat with him having formulated but not articulated any of its characteristics. Yet it works. 1.4.11 “It makes sense, therefore, to speak of a. Two sides to a surrogate, the user side and the context side (from which the user is absent or unable to function). “

Each of us uses others to achieve a benefit for ourselves. “We have that ability”. b. “None of us is just a person, a lived body, or just an organism; we are all three and more. We are singulars who own and express ourselves in and through them. As Weiss proclaims c. That we cannot separate these three from each other so that it follows that we may find it impossible to separate us from the external metaphors. Inferences that are not yet warranted can be real even before we have the evidence. d. Metaphors are accepted at face value and architecture is accepted at face value. Accustomed to surrogates architecture is made by assuming these connections are real and have benefit. Until they are built and used we trust that they will benefit the end user. Assembling the ambulatory we assume the occupancy, frequency and destinations. We each are surrogates to one another yet fitted into one message. When this passage had been used as read as had been other passages, corridors and links. e. Like a linguistic, the building stands, like a great, stone dagger, 1.4.11 emphatic against the sky. The stair, the exit, the space calls, gives emphasis and is strongly expressive.

Axiom XIV. Elegant architectural metaphors are those in which the big idea and the smallest of details echo and reinforce one another. Contemporary architects wrapping their parte in “green”, “myths” and eclectic images” are no less guilty than was their predecessors of the Bauhaus exuding asymmetry, tension and dissonance as were the classics and renaissance insisting on unity, symmetry and balance. The architect’s parte and the user’s grasp of cliché parte were expected and easy “fill-in” proving the learned mappings, learned inference trail and familiarity with bridging. 1.5.1 People ascertain the deep metaphor that underlies one or more surface metaphors by filling in terms of an implicit analogy”. A unique building metaphor may be reckoned by its apparent similarity to another from a previous experience. As a grain silo is to a methane gas plant and to oil tank storage; what may be implicit are the shapes, appurtenances, and locations. 1.5.2 We see the architectural metaphor, we read its extent, we synapse, analogies and metaphorize absorbing its information, contextualizing and as much as possible resurrecting its reasons for creation. The architectural metaphor only speaks through its apparent shape, form, volume, space, material, etc that the concepts which underlie each are known to the user as they would to a painting, poem, or concerto. 1.5.3 Architecture is often more suggestive and trusting rather than being pedantic; it leads and directs circulation, use recognition while abstracting shapes and forms heretofore unknown, but ergonometric. Furthermore as observation, analysis and use fill in the gaps users inference the locations of concealed rooms, passages and supports; the user infers from a typology of the type a warehouse of expectations and similes to this metaphor from others. In this way there are the perceived and the representations they perceive which represents when explored and inert what we call beatiful, pleasurable and wonderful. Upon entering a traditional church in any culture we anticipate finding a common vocabulary of vestibule, baptistery, pews, chancel, and choir area including transepts, chapels, statuary, altar, apse, sacristy, ambulatory and side altars. 1.5.4 Metaphor is in the mind: So while architecture is the making of metaphors and architects are making metaphors, their works, though metaphoric, are not themselves the metaphors but the shadow of the metaphor which exists elsewhere in the minds of both the creator and the user, and, it is there that the creator and the user may have a commonality (not commonplace). Ideally, if I design my own house, decorate my own room there will likely be that commonality. If an architect is selected from a particular neighborhood his metaphor will likely be sympathetic (common) to the culture of the area. Or, a concerted effort on the part of the design team to assemble the relevant and commonplace information. 1.5.5 Architects make a spatial representation in which local subspaces can be mapped into points of higher-order hyper-spaces and vice versa is possible because they have a common set of dimensions. Architects organize broad categories of operations and their subsets seeing that they are different from each others so as to warrant a separate group and that their subsets fit because they have common operational, functional conditions, operations, models and object is. Hotel front and back-of-the-house operations; Hospital surgical from outpatient and both from administration and offices are obvious sets and subsets. Axiom XV. a. Shelter and its controlled creation contains sensual ,graphic and strategic information fulfilling shelter needs by real deed rather than words of hope and future expectations. b. The building and not its metaphor is direct while its metaphor is indirect and being the sticks and stones of its manifestation. Yet the metaphor may be explained with language it would not accomplish the buildings shelter metaphor. The shelter prototype and its incarnation is itself indirect since its referent is obscured by contextual realities. 1.6.1 There is a difference between the indirect uses of metaphor verses the direct use of language to explain the world. 1.6.2 The distinctions and relationships between a. micro and macro metaphors and the way they can inform one another is as the form of design may refer to its program, or a connector reflects the concept of articulation as a design concept. b. Where articulation is being jointed together as a joint between two separable parts in the sense of "divide (vocal sounds) into distinct and significant parts" or c. Where an architect parses the program and reifies words to graphic representations bringing together desperate and seeming unrelated parts to join into parts and sub-parts to make a whole. Axiom XVI. a. The two domains of the building and its context may have analogies that relate to both, the site and the building will absorb a high amount of pedestrian traffic: both are ambulatories and both guide and protect the pedestrian. Like a building metaphor’s common elements with an uncommon application the common connects to the unfamiliar and the architect is able to find a way to bring them together and the user discovers their relevance. The neighborhoods walkways and the access to and through the building are analogous. As a child a Kressge 5 and 10 was built as a huge and wide corridor diagonally connecting Westchester Avenue with Southern Boulevard thus saving lots of steps, time and distance but providing a wonderful weather-free comfort- zone cutting through this block. The joining corners of the two avenues were filled with shops facing their streets which we could alternately frequent as an alternate. Alleys in big cities and Munich subway shopping malls are also examples of these design analogies, called galleries, alleys, mews, etc. 1.7.1 Metaphors work by “reference to analogies that are known to relate to the two domains”.  

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