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Architectural Criticism, an Object of Research

Abstract : Defining, architectural criticism – demarcating its area, determining it or its objects (technology, program, form, modes of construction) and identifying its tasks – is a chronic matter of concern in a large number of debates and essays. But when building criticism into an object of research, one encounters epistemological difficulties. Its definitions vary depending on whether we consider architectural criticism as one of the forms of criticism of aesthetic productions, close to criticism of the visual arts or of music criticism, or whether we confer it, on the contrary, a disciplinary autonomy ; and in that case, by foreseeing criticism as an internal discourse inside the architectural field, in exclusive relation with history and with architectural theories, while competing for their limits. Thereby, to contribute to the construction of architectural criticism into an object of research, this article declines several meanings, by returning to its double origin in philosophy and in criticism of the aesthetic productions. It also underlines that the term of criticism covers different notions, according to cultural context : from architectural chronicles to critical history and to critical theory, and to critical theory and its by-products in architectural theories since the 1970s. This essay brings to mind some attempts to elaborate architectural criticism outside empiricism and outside a frequent distinctive involvement : by searching out criteria coming from an established corpus of theories or, in the 1970s, with the ambition of establishing for architecture a “scientific“ criticism, importing notions from other disciplines. It evokes more recent postures such as the development of a theoretical and academic criticism in the United States, or as the debate on “critical“ and “post-critical“ architecture since the 2000s. In conclusion, defining “the“ architectural criticism in an unambiguous way can only raise from an a priori doctrinal position : the identification of an object of research will inevitably have to refer to particular situations, which shaped criticism configurations at historic periods and in precise cultural circles.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 11:35:20 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - 3:08:02 PM

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Helene Janniere. Architectural Criticism, an Object of Research. Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale / Les Cahiers de la recherche architecturale et urbaine, Paris : Ed. du patrimoine, 2009, pp.121-140. ⟨10.4000/crau.311⟩. ⟨hal-02563320⟩

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