CHORA: Intervals in the Philosophy of Architecture

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Book series published by the History and Theory of Architecture Graduate Program and McGill-Queen's University Press

Managing Editor: Alberto Pérez-Gómez

Preface

CHORA (the Greek word for "space"), is devoted to exploring the potential of architecture beyond conventional aesthetic and technological reductions. In a world where unabated scientism and irrelevant nihilism are prevalent, where the supposed alternatives to the rationalist and functionalist building practices of modernity are often no more than empty formalism and extrapolation of deconstructivist positions into architecture, CHORA offers a forum for pondering other possibilities. It is possible to affirm the specificity of architecture vis-a-vis both technological building and the mass media, while a  voiding futile turns into nostalgia? Can we recognize the truth present in our architectural tradition and the hope revealed in our presence as embodied human beings, while rejecting the dangerous delusions of absolute, transparent truth and logocentric power?

Architecture is at a crossroads. If its role as a stage for the perpetuation of human culture as not recognized and redefined, its demise will be  inevitable. The work of the architect, a work of imagination, cannot be simply a dominating gaze, a solipsistic play of mirrors, or a manifestation of the will to power. It may yet be something different, something that must be explored and that may, as a reconciliatory action, point to a referent other than itself. In a world where the media establish new paradigms of communication approaching the ephemeral nature of embodied perception and the primary orality  of language, architecture may indeed be able to carry intersubjective values, convey meaning through metaphor, and embody a cultural order beyond tyranny or anarchy.

CHORA offers a space to meditate on the possibility of such an architecture, capable of both respecting cultural differences and acknowledging the globalization of technological culture. Interdisciplinary by definition, and reflecting a veriety of cultural concerns, its essays operate from within the discipline of architecture. Generated by personal questions of pressing  concern for architecture and our culture, these radical explorations of form and content suggest alternatives for a more significant practice. While the main philosophical framework for CHORA stems from phenomenology and hermeneutic ontology, the architectural pursuits in this collection could be placed generally in the broad context of European philosophy, which demands a fundamental redefinition of thought and action, and a substantial rethinking of traditionally accepted values.