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Ph.D. dissertations

Barry Bell – Ph.D. – 2007

The Narratives of Form, Symbol and Order in the Architecture of Wat Pho, Bangkok

Bot, West Façade - Barry Bell

This thesis strives to articulate the narrative or narratives latent in the manipulation of form, symbol, and order in the architecture of Wat Pho, a major royal temple complex in Bangkok, and to consider the temple’s revelatory significance in relation to the broader question of Thai sacred building.

Wat Pho presents a compelling model for such a study. Though predating Bangkok’ s re-foundation as Siam’s capital in 1782, the temple was taken under royal patronage and rebuilt as one of the city’s key monastic and cultural foundations. Wat Pho’s architecture is generally assumed to follow conventional patterns. Yet surprisingly, neither the symbolic values of Thai sacred architecture nor their specific expression at Wat Pho have been clearly articulated. Indeed the conceptual orders and narrative intentions of Thai temples are cloaked in mystery and misinterpretation, especially in contrast to their better known neighbours such as Angkor Wat. This is arguably due to the complexities of their host culture which combines a broad range of influences within its own unique synthesis. The differences may also, however, derive from a fundamentally different approach to form and architectural event - one which has been overlooked due to the implicit biases of recent architectural sensibilities.

It is hoped that this research, through revealing the narrative functions of form, symbol, and order in a particular temple may illuminate the more general symbolic principles of Thai sacred architecture, whether by congruence or contrast. More abstractly, unveiling Wat Pho’s narrative should assist in the revelation of the cultural sensibilities crucial to its host city and its historic form. This architecture and its urban analogies, demonstrating the persistence of symbolic and even mythic sensibilities, may, in addition, provide potent lessons for considering urban development today.

In memoriam: Barry Bell.

Torben Berns – Ph.D. – 2002

The Paradox of a Modern (Japanese) Architecture

This thesis analyzes the problems and contradictions inherent in modernity’s levelling of the fabricative and political realms. Seeking a broader perspective on the origins of aesthetic culture and aestheticized politics, it examines the relation of architecture to technology, culture, and politics. The thesis examines the consequences of the Enlightenment and “Radical Enlightenment” (understanding the rise of the modern nation-state as a direct consequence of the 18th century’s yoking of history and nature) from the perspective of Japan and its encounter with modernity. Japan as a modern nation-state, neither part of the European Enlightenment nor colonized by its instruments, was able to initiate a unique discourse around the question of history and the concomitant issues of identity and nihilism.

The thesis tracks the discourse through architecture as the terms shift and become more and more indistinguishable from the Western manifestations from which the Japanese architects wished to claim distinction.

The discussion on difference and possibility – cultural identity and the creative project – as fundamental questions for a contemporary practice of architecture is undertaken through an analysis of the polar positions of Tange Kenzo and Shirai Sei’ichi.

Lawrence Bird – Ph.D. – 2009

(Over)throwing Metropolis

This project focuses on images of apocalyptic destruction of the city in film, specifically the Metropolis stories by Fritz Lang (silent, 1926) and Rintarô (animated, 2001), reached by way of Osamu Tezuka's comic strip of the same name (1949). These films act on and through the image of the city to render acute the problematic modern relationships of architecture to the body, and of community to its others.

The cinematic tellings of Metropolis make use of archetypal figures of architecture: in particular the Tower of Babel, the Cathedral, the Labyrinth, the form of the city itself. As the story of Metropolis is retold from one film to another these architectural motifs fuse and transform, consistent with myth's parodic and distortive capacity. The dissertation examines these transformations, particularly that of the Labyrinth, which in Lang's film was modernity's shadow (haunted) but in the animated film takes on a colourful, hybrid substance (inhabited).

The experience of bodies as they move through the animated Metropolis forms the second part of the thesis. Bodies are variously disoriented, enframed and undone by the city; in the end a body in turn undoes Metropolis. These experiences articulate the unstable relationship of body and architecture arising from modern conditions, yet the film offers no easy answers. While Lang's resolution depended on the annihilation of the technical body, such bodies survive the animated apocalypse, if in broken form. Their survival in a landcape generated out of the Labyrinth -- and in clear rejection of Towers -- implies that the mode of dwelling and form of life which allow us to dwell authentically in our current condition involve, perhaps paradoxically, a critical (even playful) use of technology, an engagement with the strange/the foreign, and the navigation of a landscape which offers no simple homecoming.

This condition of dwelling is thrust upon us by postmodern circumstances. Yet is a condition for which we secretly yearn; indeed it is the only condition through which an authentic becoming is possible.

Gregory Paul Caicco – Ph.D. – 1998

Ethics and Poetics: The Architectural
Vision of Saint Francis of Assisi

Contrary to the view of many interpreters that Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) dabbled in church renovation for a few years following his first conversion experience in 1205, architecture remained a central preoccupation until his death in 1226. His creative practice ranged from hermitage planning to the clothing design of its occupants, from architectural legislation to the composition of psalms to be sung in the hermitage churches. Through the medieval art of memory, Francis formed his architectural intentions around two contemplative foci: first, the symbol of the tau, which became his attire, prayer position, signature, talisman for healing the sick, and the crucifixion of Christ imprinted on his flesh in the stigmata; and second, the chapel of the Portiuncula, which Francis renovated himself to be the cave of the annunciation and the nativity, the womb of Mary and a portion of heaven on earth where angels descended. With its hedge-bound monastery, it became the prototype for construction among his followers. As the art of memory aimed at an ethics, so did his architecture strive to inspire communal good through narratives of compassion, voluntary penance and humility.

The Portiuncula was copied throughout the Franciscan order, but as the order grew its commitment to poverty waned. As a result, buildings began to deviate from Francis' ideals. Rather than resort to prescriptive architectural legislation, Francis addressed this dilemma through an intricately choreographed performance of his death whose poetic image would be unforgettable for those who wished to imitate him in word, deed and architecture. Two years after this event, the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, built by his friend and hand-chosen successor, Br. Elias, rapidly rose to house the newly canonized saint. Its earliest form, narrative and symbolism, also widely imitated, seems to illustrate aptly Francis' architectural vision: if the Portiuncula was the Bethlehem of the order, the Basilica's tau plan became its Jerusalem. From these two prototypes Italian mendicant architecture for the next century drew its meaning and form.

Jennifer Carter – Ph.D. – 2007

Re-creating the Poetic Imaginary: Alexandre Lenoir and the Musée des Monuments français

Alexandre Lenoir and the Musée des Monuments français

Re-creating the Poetic Imaginary: Alexandre Lenoir and the Musée des Monuments français is a hermeneutical and philosophical study of the emergence of the narrative history museum in eighteenth-century France. The first example of this genre, Alexandre Lenoir’s creation of the short-lived Musée des Monuments français (1795-1816), purported to recount the history of a nation through a chronological arrangement and aesthetic re-presentation of France’s monumental and sculptural heritage, repositioned in a revolutionary dépôt-turned-museum at the former convent of the Petits-Augustins in Paris. Part monument, part myth, Lenoir’s project is an embodiment of Enlightenment ideals in its deliberate attempt to provide moral and didactic instruction through the sequencing of objects in choreographed spaces. Yet the reality is that the Musée was born of the French Revolution – a singularly tumultuous and radically transformative moment in modern social history – and in form and content the Musée bears witness to a society coming to terms with beginnings and endings in ways that recall the paradoxes of the very horizon in which it took shape. Lenoir’s almost fanatical obsession with fragments and the ruin, and his desire to evoke mythic origins and traditions, proved fertile concepts in the recovery of a nation emerging from revolution and the denial of its past.

This project positions the Musée des Monuments français as one individual’s endeavour to explore the new aims of history and its uses in the social sphere. As an investigation of the origins of the narrative history museum, this dissertation formulates a new critical discourse and framework for theorizing an ontology of the modern museum, one that does not ground its analysis uniquely in traditional theories of art and aesthetics, but rather derives its terms from a hermeneutical reading of eighteenth-century philosophy and architectural theory – toward an understanding of the larger representational and cultural practices that shaped modern historical consciousness and the construction of subjectivity.

The project thereby brings the prevailing theoretical basis of the museum institution into question through the positing of other possible foundational themes of investigation: memory, mimesis, myth and death. These themes are not arbitrarily imported and grafted onto the museum but rather they have surfaced from correspondences with established social discourses and practices, both synchronic and diachronic, in the civic sphere. Thus, the departure point for this investigation is the assumption that the narrative history museum is, and historically has been, both an expression of historical consciousness and the product of social actions brought about by this consciousness and, in this way, affords insight into how architecture and objects may provide the space of poetic experience to open up history for the future – rather than memorializing the burden of the past. By understanding the origins of the narrative history museum in this way, this project posits a second theory: that in its ontological essence, the museum, like theatre, responds to a social and psychic need to rehearse for the transformational experiences of the conditio humana.

Lian Chang – Ph.D. – 2009

Vitruvius and the Articulate Body of Architecture

This dissertation examines ancient Greek understandings about the human body as "articulated" (constructed of joined parts), to inform a reading of Vitruvius’ comparisons of architecture to the body. Its main premise is that during this time when an idea of “the body” took shape, the ancient Greek concept of articulation—as evident in literary (Hesiod, Homer, Sappho), historical (Herodotus, Thucydides), philosophical or scientific (Plato and Aristotle) and medical (Hippocrates, Galen) texts, as well as certain material artifacts—provided a framework through which ideas of corporeality (the body), human actions (social relationships and politics), constructions (architecture and other crafts), and the natural world were negotiated.

Three kinds of arguments about the body explicitly or implicitly deployed by Vitruvius organize the thesis into in three parts entitled “The Articulate Body,” “The Bounded Body,” and “The Numbered Body.” Part One, “The Articulate Body,” examines the Archaic language of articulation, which is both familiar and unfamiliar to our eyes. In Homeric language, as Nicole Loraux argues, the “ties that bind” are also nodes of rupture, and coherence emerges from the capacity for fragmentation and destruction. What does it mean to assemble the human body, a built or written “body of architecture” (in Vitruvius’ words), or the political body of the Athenian polis or the Roman Empire, when a body is precisely that which falls apart? Part Two, “The Bounded Body,” interprets a set of Vitruvius’ concerns about building materials, climate, drinking water, and city foundation alongside Hippocratic medical texts that establish a humoral understanding of health. The humoral body is regulated by the proper mixing of humors and elements in the bodily interior; disease is marked by the separation, or disarticulation, of humors. This Classical body, as the first expression of the body as a whole and bounded entity, is defined through its capacity for disarticulation and the translation of its pain into technē and discourse. Part Three, “The Numbered Body,” describes how Vitruvius, in what would become the most influential of his formulations, used numbers to bridge the gap that by his time had emerged between bodily experience and the world of architecture, politics and nature. His famous discussion of the necessary proportions of the parts of temples is examined in light of Plato’s assertion in the Timaeus that the geometric mean between any two numbers is the binding agent between those numbers, and therefore is necessary in the construction of the universe and everything within it. Articulation thus becomes proportion.

A recurring theme is that the body created in discourse is articulated, strong, and solid—something that a building, a city, or an empire could emulate—precisely because it is found to be weak, in pain, and capable of disintegration, but I do not see this as pessimistic. Rather, the real, frightening fragility of both the body and the political body tells us that architecture is necessary, or at least was understood as necessary at the Greek origins of western culture, to establish an order beyond suffering. This suggests that architecture has the capacity to create something strong, healthy and beautiful—something whole—emerging from but also transcending a lived experience that is all too often fragmentary.

Diana Cheng – Ph.D. – 2010

The History of the Boudoir in the Eighteenth Century

The boudoir, a space especially invented for women, has been described as the quintessential room of the eighteenth century. Characterized in literary and cultural studies as erotic and as metaphor of a woman's body, the boudoir is generally understood as a site for secret pleasures. Yet little has been written exclusively about the boudoir from an architectural perspective or from a woman's point of view. Combining art, architectural and social histories as well as literary studies, the dissertation presents the multiple meanings and understandings of the boudoir, from its inception in early eighteenth-century France as a space for religious devotion to its transformation as a voluptuous space towards the end of the century. Part one examines three types of private rooms dedicated to a woman: the oratory, the hybrid oratory-boudoir, and the boudoir proper. The second part looks at the development of the boudoir beyond the closed world of the honnêtes gens. It focuses on its consolidation into a sexually affective space, through the accounts of late eighteenth century writers, architects and courtesans. In examining the codification of behavioral norms, their relationship to spatial organization and decor, and the affect of the architecture, the dissertation demonstrates the significance of the boudoir as a psychological architecture fostering an interior life. The history of the boudoir in the eighteenth century can thus shed a new light on the way architecture contributed to the development of modern private life.

Lily Chi – Ph.D. – 1997

An Arbitrary Authority: Claude Perrault and the Idea of Caractère in Jacques-François Blondel and Germain Boffrand

This study examines the debates which marked the entry of culture as a theoretical issue in French architectural writing at the end of the 17th century. The premise is that while culture could be said to have always been present in the very earliest treatises as the context, goal, and medium of architectural speculation, the focus on culture for considering the grounds, principles, and aims of architectural work portends a modern struggle to define a secular basis for human work.

The study begins with Claude Perrault's controversial declaration of arbitrary and positive beauty in the 17th century. Key to this research is the concept of arbitraire which attended his thinking on custom. Following Perrault's own cue, and complementing earlier studies of his scientific background, the study examines evidence of these concepts in contemporaneous discussions of jurisprudence and language. These contexts indicate that Perrault spoke from within an already prevalent discourse--one which affected the terms of architectural thought even amongst Perrault's critics in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Remaining with the question of the critical terrain opened up therein for architectural work, the study continues with an examination of the idea of caractère-conversant articulated by Germain Boffxand and Jacques-François Blondel, respectively. As with Perrault, topical discourses of the time are examined to situate these terms, including those on luxury, taste, and civilité. As elaborations of a theory of architectural expression, the thinking on architectural character by these two authors can be considered heir to Perrault's legacy in more than one respect. The discourse of caractère itself, beginning with these first treatments, was an effort to articulate a role for human artifice, convention, and tradition within the search for enduring principles. More specifically, in seeking to ground architectural expression upon a language community--albeit a tenuous and finite one--Boffrand and Blondel developed a theory of signification which was a unique development of, and a demonstration for Perrault's analogy of arbitrary beauty and civil law. The uniqueness of this moment is framed by later developments in the thinking of grounds and fundaments, of invention and convention, and of architectural character at the end of the 18th century.

Christina Contandriopoulos – Ph.D. – 2011

Jacques Antoine Dulaure (1755-1835) and the emerging crisis of the unwalled city in 19th century France.

This dissertation analyses changing concepts of city and frontier in early nineteenth century France. Throughout the eighteenth century all of Europe's major cities had undergone a striking urban metamorphosis – they had lost their enclosing walls. The three functions of the city walls, military, legal and symbolic, had become dissociated and within a few decades the walls had disappeared from the urban landscape. Yet, in the theoretical definitions of the time, a city continued to be differentiated from a village or town by virtue of its walls. A paradox and a crisis of both meaning and form ensued; the modern city, open and complex, existed and yet it no longer resembled any of the cities described in classical discourse which took as precedents ancient cities like Athens, Rhodes or Rome. In these ancient cities, the walls had inscribed the limits and the physical space of the city but they had also served to symbolize the city and its place in a greater cosmology. With the disappearance of its walls, the city was thought to be at risk of degeneration, spreading outward and transforming into a shapeless, unstable and sick place. These anxieties provoked a great deal of thought and questioning; What constitutes a city? What was the symbolical function of early city walls? How is a city different from any other place? What should cities look like? Can a city exist without shape or limits?

One of the earliest, most interesting and overlooked thinkers to grapple with these questions was Jacques-Antoine Dulaure, an unusual character who drew on his personnal experience as architect and geographer to confront the emerging crisis of the unwalled city. Dulaure wrote from a variety of perspectives working as a mythologist, historian and archaeologist. His grand oeuvre, a History of Paris was very widely read and contributed in a significant way to elaborating and diffusing our notions of the modern city. In his book Dulaure synthesises all his previous writings, linking them with the history of Paris. His studies on phallic cults, primitive landscape and territorial markers led him to a groundbreaking thesis to explain not only the foundation of Paris but the origins of all cities. Dulaure rewrote the history of architecture and cities. He invented a new historical narrative which plunged the origins of building into a past that preceded all written histories, grounding his descriptions almost exclusively on archaeological discoveries of his time, privileging built evidences and ruins over textual precedents. He demonstrated that the earliest expression of architecture was not the ideal hut or the temple, but rather the boundary marker, the cromlech and the cippus – which were all territorial markers. For Dulaure, these monuments of frontier embodied the very beginnings of architecture, cities and of all social institutions.

Santiago De Orduna – Ph.D. – 2008

The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, From Idolatry to Virtual Reality

The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, (1325-1521) once the center of an ‘empire,’ is the most famous Mesoamerican pyramidal temple whose first archetypal origin may have appeared within the Olmec culture around three thousand years ago. The way in which this powerful archetype originated is uncertain, we can confidently underline, however, two necessary aspects for its appearance.

First of all, the geography: the land of Mesoamerica is geographically determined by two mountain ranges that run from north to south and met at the Itsmo de Tehuantepec. These ranges, known today as the Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, conform sloped sides to the seas and large fertile plateaus at the top between them, that is to say, the whole Mesoamerican world is given by its geographical condition as a truncated pyramid.

Second: As a contrast to the Christian God, the ‘Architect’ of the cosmos, who made the world in six days and on the seventh he “rested” without big lost; the Mesoamericans understood the creative act of the cosmos as a sacrificial act by the part of the gods. Almost all Mesoamerican cosmogonical myths tell us how the gods sacrificed their lives to separate the sky from the earth or cast themselves into the fire to transmute into the sun or moon or gave their blood to generate the movement of the cosmos. The earth was conceptualized as terrifying living creature who was constantly giving her flesh for the maintenance of humans, but that required the pay back of the sacrificial act. Mountains were also living gods, -or were seen as inhabited by gods,- who could propitiate raining. A patron mountain god, capable to gather clouds, absorbed rain water, and gave it back to the land in the form of rivers or springs was the prerequisite for the conformation of a political entity like the Nahua altepetl, an entity similar to the Greek city-states, which literally means ‘water-mountain.’

The teocalli, ‘house of god,’ was a truncated pyramidal temple that would host, at their top platform, one or two shrines for the ‘idols’ of the corresponding mountain patron god of the political entity. They would function as a religious-cosmic mediator in time and space between men and cosmos, the sky and the underworld, men and the gods. Their ritual use was regulated by a dual calendar. The teocallis were a humanized representation of the ‘sacred mountain’ where humans would die like gods and gods like humans, all for the sake of the cosmos and the community. It is hard for us to grasp the ethical dimension of the sacrificial act because, in our mechanistic mentality, there is no real connection between the offered blood and the movement of the cosmos, but for Mesoamericans, the connection was as evident as the plants grow and as the sun burns. The Main Temples would usually mark an axis mundi for the community, and were usually orientated towards the solstices, marking the agricultural seasons, contributing strongly for the communal sense of belonging.

The Mexica, better known as the Aztecs, where a Chichimec tribe that came from the north after a long pilgrimage, and settled down around 1535 at the ‘mist’ of the marshes at the center of lake Texcoco. Just after the foundation of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, in the place where they encounter an eagle devouring a snake over a prickly pear cactus, the Aztecs proceed to build a teocalli for their tribal good Huitzilopochtli. The dual Temple of Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, the traditional god of rain, grew in size and grandeur during the next hundred and fifty years until the arrival of the Europeans.

My dissertation can be conceptualized as an hermeneutic promenade around the Great Temple of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. I intend to reach the top platform after reviewing different interpretations of the Temple, not to have a complete scientific understanding of it, but to have an advantage point for my own partial interpretation. The promenade has five chapters that correspond with the four sides of the temple and the central point. The first chapter deals with the Conquerors chronicles who describe the Temple when it was still standing. They spoke of its magnificence with sincere wonder and horror of the human sacrifices they observed. After the defeat of the Aztecs, the Spanish decided to found the capital of New Spain above Tenochtitlan, the Great Temple was demolished and its stones were used to build a Christian cathedral, perpetuating, what Octavio Paz called the Aztec ‘pyramid’ of domination and its sacrificial stone.

Our second cycle will revise the most interesting accounts of mendicant missionaries: They saw in the indigenous temples the house of the devil that had to be demolished. They had, however, a difficult task: if they wanted to ‘win’ the indigenous souls, the new faith had to be rendered somehow compatible with their old beliefs; that was their great success and their great failure. Aztec temples and Christian churches were seen by the natives, as the place where the ritual sacrifice of Christ, another god, which gave his life for the common good, like others, took place. Some missionaries, find the indigenous religion dangerously similar to the Christian one, and thought the only way to get rid of it was to study it in depth. That was the beginning, to my believe, of what was going to be the instrumental model in the social sciences. Ironically, it is from the work of these more radical missionaries from which we have a quite accurate picture of how the Great Temple and the religious life of the Aztecs actually was.

The third cycle is a revision of the ambivalent positions of the Nahuas themselves towards their own past during the colonial period. I will revise mainly, how the Great Temple was represented under western influence in the colonial Nahua codex.

The forth cycle revisits the most important European views in regards to the Great Temple from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. For many years, the chronicles of the conquerors were taken to render different hypothetical reconstructions of the Temple. This reconstruction had a grate visual impact that strongly shaped the western mind regarding Mesoamerican culture. The European imagination mixed its own mythologies with the Temple of the Aztecs: Solomon’s Temple, ‘Infidel’ mosques, Egyptian pyramids, Babylonian ziggurats, and other paradigmatic buildings were incorporated to the Mesoamerican image. Huitzilopochtli was seen either as Lucifer, or the ancient pagan god of war, ‘another Mars.’

With the Enlightenment, a sense or progress permeated European culture. The image that the Europeans had of the Aztecs shifted dramatically: From being infidels they became inferior beings. The long before discarded discussions about the inhumanity of the native Americans and their lack of human soul were now seen under a scientific aura; they were inferior because of their adverse material circumstances. Any kind of monumental architecture was denied, the accounts of the conquerors were taken as exaggerations and the Great Temple was seen as a hut not worthy to be taken into further consideration. It was also during the enlightenment, that the Mexican mestizos and creoles felt the necessity to vindicate the image of the Aztecs in the mind of the Europeans. Exiled Jesuits, scientist, poets and philosophers collaborate with the formation of a national conscience. Mexican history was rewritten independently form the European past, having its roots, not in Athens or Jerusalem, but in the ancient civilizations of Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan. The Great Temple of the Aztecs was monumentally depicted, and it was compared to the pagan temples of Greece and Rome. Their formula had good sounding, and slowly, the people of New Spain, indigenous, mestizos and creoles, began a tricky and problematic identification between themselves and the ancient Mexica, being the Great Temple the root of this common understanding.

In the fifth stage, I will revise the views of the post-revolutionary regime constituted after the armed uplift in the second decade of the twentieth century, among which are the Mexican ‘muralism,’ indianism and the scientific approaches including the archeological and anthropological.

The post-revolutionary regime confronted again the challenge to create a modern nation: The indigenous population, and its historic background were seen either as an obstacle for progress or as the idyllic happy and bright era of our ancestors. The Great Temple was represented in the murals of the National Palace as the center of a complex and “advanced” civilization. Other representations based on both, archeological evidence and written accounts were made. These representations intended to reestablish a view of the Temple as it ‘was,’ objectifying it and rejecting any kind historical distance and imaginative implementation. The positions polarized, and in general, the results have been poor: stiff and aseptic archeology, political propaganda, rejection of the indigenous past or blind copy of their forms and ‘styles.’ Architects went from one side to the other, functionalism or Indianism, hardly finding the middle ground of a true synthesis. Except for few cases, the metaphoric act, the poetic image, was left out of the formula and it was hardly if at all achieved. To finish this last cycle, at the light of having made a long promenade around the Great Temple, I will study the architecture of the National Museum of Anthropology, which to my view, has great and poetic insights but also great failures, and where is clearly exemplified the richness and dangers of departing from historical models to be uncritically translated into contemporary architecture. In 1982 the foundations of the Temple were unearthed. The event was undertaken with chauvinistic passion and scientific cleanness, the results: cheap propaganda and the cold galleries of the museum. There is evidently an absence of historical conscience, simultaneously rooted and new, capable of reconciling opposites by the metaphoric act that may counterbalance the pervasive and overwhelming technocratic world of ‘progress.’ At the end of this historical promenade, we could hopefully expect to have a clearer view of the sacrificial nature of the origins not just of Mesoamerican architecture, but of all urban civilizations, and to grasp, how modern western thought has apparently alienated itself from its origins as modernity progresses, with the constant and eminent danger of falling into a fundamentalist reaction. We certainly can not intend to go back to Aztec times and offer our blood to the cosmos for the sustenance of life, nor we can continue, however, taking from nature without thinking of ‘paying’ back.

What drives my dissertation is the hypothetical belief, that before modernity came to its maturity, after the French Revolution, a common understanding between the cultures was easier to attain, and from which we can still learn something. My thesis implies that the process of modernization of Mexico, is also a process of alienation between the more ‘westernized’ Mexican population and the surviving indigenous, phenomenon which Octavio Paz named as the ‘two Mexicos,’ which are parting further and further away. The present dissertation intends, if not bringing them together, at least to construct a bridge between them.

Caroline Dionne - Ph.D. - 2006

Running Out of Place:
The Language and Architecture of Lewis Carroll

The Language and Architecture of Lewis Carroll

This dissertation examines the links between architecture and literature through the work of English author/mathematician/geometrician Lewis Carroll/Charles L. Dodgson. The premise is that throughout Carroll’s work, questions concerning the position of the body in relation to its surroundings— the possibility for one to forge a sense of place—are recurrent. Carroll stages a series of bodily movements in space: changes in scale, transformations, alterations, translations from bottom to top, from left to right, from the inside to the outside, and so on. Reading the work, one is constantly reminded that one’s perception of space, as well as one’s understanding of where one stands, are phenomena that take place in language, through utterances, through words. Approaching Carroll’s work with particular attention to the space of bodily movements and to plays on language, one can access a subterranean architectural discourse. This discourse is oblique, suggested rather than explicit, but nonetheless raises pertinent questions concerning the formation of architectural meaning: the relationship of sense to its limits—to nonsense— in architecture.

The following texts are studied: Carroll’s two architectural pamphlets; the two Alice stories with their convoluted spaces; a long epic poem dealing with the space of discovery; a drama on geometry and a logical exposition on the paradoxes of movement. Throughout Carroll’s multifaceted work, nonsense guides the construction of the texts. Working at the limits of language and literary genres, Carroll’s parodies possess strong allegorical powers: sense travels obliquely and the work remains enigmatic. However, the reader somehow understands the work; the experience of the work produces a certain kind of knowledge.

In architecture, meaning is also tied to its outer limits—to the polysemy of nonsense. Through one’s experience of space, a stable and orderly building becomes heterogeneous, loaded with qualities and symbols. A sense of place emerges and meaning momentarily appears along the sinuous paths that run between bodily movements, thoughts, dreams, desire and words.

Essam Hallak – Ph.D. – 2010

Beyond Boundaries
A Philosophical Mapping of the Pre-Modern City of the Levant

Understanding the pre-modern Muslim-Arab city of the Levant within our embodied modern framework of reference and in the absence of classical texts explaining urban theory within its culture highlights epistemological differences, which endemically produce cultural projections and misrepresentations. Therefore, this dissertation provides a conceptual framework for comprehending the city through an intertwined process of examining key conceptual and historical aspects of the city from within its indigenous culture while, simultaneously, critiquing our modern frameworks for conceptualizing it as currently epitomized in French poststructuralist philosophy. The dissertation undertakes this project through the investigation of the foundational notion of structure and boundaries as defined by dichotomous epistemology in modern Western thinking and by complementary duality in traditional Muslim-Arab epistemology. It reconstitutes the discourse of the city according to these terms by arguing that the latter defines Muslim-Arab worldviews and culture including, most notably, the semantic and phonetic structure of Arabic words. Through an analysis of key architectural and urban terms within a culturally-specific hermeneutical framework, the dissertation shows that compositions of any structural unit as complementary dualities intermediated by liminal mechanisms in order to create a horizontal hierarchy of autonomy and interrelativity are at the basis of the particular concepts of identity, difference, and dimensionality which ground Muslim-Arab ontology. These concepts underlie the intertwined conceptual, spatial, and social orders of the city and frame its urban culture. In comparison to this framework, it demonstrates the limitations of Derrida’s deconstructionist model of interplay of opposites in overcoming the structuralist, dichotomous, and essentialist notions in understanding the urban order. It also shows the inability of the Foucauldian power discourse on centrality and marginality to break away from its structuralist and dichotomous presuppositions. Finally, the dissertation exposes Deleuze’s critique of identity and hierarchy as engendering the dichotomous thinking its author had endeavoured to escape. As an alternative, the dissertation proposes a framework indigenous to the Muslim-Arab city based on complementary dualities resulting in a hierarchy of diverse unity. This hierarchy is horizontal, polycentric, and relational relative to another vertical, centric, and metaphysical hierarchy. The meeting of both hierarchies occurs through human agency and defines moral spaces of freedom as the foundation of the cultural values and spatial order of the Muslim-Arab city.

Jose Jacob – Ph.D. – 2004

The Architectural Theory of the Mānasāra

The extant Mānasāra is one of the authoritative treatises of vāstuśāstra, traditional Indian architectural theory. The dissertation addresses the question of the nature of vāstuśāstra, traditional architectural theory, as enunciated in the Mānasāra, and the relationship of theory to traditional practice. Vāstuśāstra claims itself to be a priori with respect to practice. Two aspects of theory, theology and nomology, constitute the ontological and epistemological foundation and structure for this claim. From this śāstraic perspective, practice is understood as mere application of rules. However, a closer hermeneutical reading of the text reveals the dialectical nature of theory itself, in both its theological and nomological aspects. This dialectic obtains in the relationship between theory and practice as a certain reciprocity between them, and in the parallelism between making the temple (the paradigmatic architectural object) and writing the treatise. Thus, a more precise understanding of the nature of traditional theory and its relationship to traditional practice is arrived at through this exercise. Such a calibrated understanding of vāstuśāstra is indispensable in addressing the issue of the proper role that it may play in contemporary Indian architectural practice which is constituted in the modern scientific and technological mode.

Robert Louis Kelly – Ph.D. – 2002

In Search of Michelangelo’s Tomb for Julius II
Reconstructing that for which no fixed rule may be given.

In early 1505, at twenty-nine years of age, Michelangelo began work on a massive tomb for Pope Julius II. The formal, temporal, and constructional intertwinings of this project are plumbed to create the foundation of this text. Finding its only full manifestation in the narratives of Vasari and Condivi, this tomb was the site of Michelangelo’s first engagement with the making of architecture. The execution of this project would go on to intermittently occupy nearly half of Michelangelo’s lifetime, making it a pivotal and paradigmatic work in the understanding of his opera. Explored as an embodied architectural treatise, the tomb reveals Michelangelo’s dynamic process of creative making. Problematic issues in the prevailing Twentieth Century analyses and reconstructions of the tomb are called into question and alternative approaches to establish a deeper understanding of the project are proposed. Conjectures on the relevance of history, the hegemony and limits of analysis, the physical manifestation of ideas, what it means to “finish” a project, and what constitutes a “work,” are projected from the foundations of the tomb onto the making of architecture today.

Robert Kirkbride – Ph.D. – 2002

“The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro and the Architecture of Memory”

This investigation of the studioli, small contemplation chambers in the ducal palaces of Urbino and Gubbio, considers their position in the western tradition of the memory arts. Drawing upon select images in the studioli, as well as text sources readily available to Duke Federico da Montefeltro (1422-82) and the members of his court, this inquiry examines how the discipline of architecture equipped the late quattrocento mind with a bridge between the mathematical arts, which lend themselves to mechanical practices, and the art of rhetoric, a discipline central to the cultivation of memory and eloquence. As ramifications of material and metal craft, the studioli offered the Urbino court models for education and prudent governance.

Lisa Landrum – Ph.D.– 2010

A Study of Potential Inhabitation that asks how the mimetic faculty which inspires the mime might also teach the architect.

The architect performs in both real and imagined realms: inhabiting the real while simultaneously projecting the possible. It is not only possible architectures which the architect projects, but possible acts of dwelling. To imagine and evaluate these acts of dwelling the architect assumes many guises and dwells hypothetically in both real and proposed environments: plotting potential narratives and imagining plausible encounters which the architecture might invite or sustain. This projective activity of hypothetical dwelling is not a gratuitous or indulgent moment in the architect’s process, but rather a continuous and essential activity performed throughout the process of making inhabitation - a process any active dweller is also continually performing.

It is this paradoxical terrain of the real and the imagined in which architects physically and hypothetically dwell. It is a terrain where inhabitation and potential inhabitation mimetically inspire and instruct one another; and it is this terrain which my dissertation will investigate.

Since for the architect, imagining inhabitation is intertwined with imagining the particulars of a potential physical space, then it remains the architect’ s role to continually imagine and play out, as a kind of mime, these performative and interpretive acts of dwelling.

My research intends to study historical and contemporary examples of how architects have used and might use their corporeal imaginations to rehearse possible acts of dwelling. Concurrent research into the teachings of mime will offer a theoretical framework for these examples and serve to develop an approach to architectural pedagogy. In this manner, the mimetic faculty which inspires the mime is invited to teach the architect to imagine, animate and evaluate potential inhabitation.

Panos Leventis – Ph.D.– 2004

Nicosia, Cyprus, 1192-1570: Architecture, topography and urban experience in a diversified capital city.

Architecture, topography and urban experience in

This study explores and reiterates the significance carried by the notions of place, multiplicity and experience in the approaches to the study of architecture, in the shaping of cultures, and in the construction of urban (hi)stories and topographies. The research aims to reveal the existence of a transcultural space constituting the cosmos of Nicosia, capital city of the late medieval and renaissance Kingdom of Cyprus. It is argued that the natural and built environment of the city simultaneously witnessed as well as constructed this highly obscure space, whose elusive nature has not been sufficiently or comprehensively researched thus far. The purpose of this study is to unearth numerous attempts at reconciliation by medieval civilizations, and to comprehend their repeated efforts at bringing in parallel existence and understanding adjacent, but seemingly oppositional or even confrontational, cultures and spaces.

The method used engages a re-interpretation of Nicosia’s urban space by means of a scholarly narrative, defined as a comprehensively annotated telling of citizens’ experiences through the city. While maintaining that it is this telling which better exposes the city’s character, past findings on the architecture, topography, and urban experience of Nicosia are concurrently examined, some of them accepted and others re-proposed. Different architectural and ethical realities for the city, as well as varied urban and social identities, emerge as possibilities for pondering only after the superimposition of scientific findings on an interweaving web of experiences, on the remarkably phenomenal world of medieval urban space.

Irena Zantovska Murray – Ph.D. – 2002

“Our Slav Acropolis”: Language and architecture in the Prague
Castle under Masaryk

The present study explores the relationship between language and architecture as symbolic systems against the background of the creation of independent Czechoslovakia at the end of World War I. It takes as its focus the Prague Castle, and the intent of the first President of Czechoslovakia, philosopher Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), to "democratize" the vast complex of historic structures that formed it, with the help of the Slovenian architect Joze Ple_nik (1872-1957). To effect change in the charged, historically circumscribed spaces of the Castle can be viewed as a language analogy mainly in the terms of creating new relationships. Polysemy is a characteristic, sometimes dominant, feature of the transformation process.

In the hierarchy of public spaces, the Castle was meant to constitute the ultimate symbolic space not just for Prague, but for the entire nation. Memory, as recollection, but also as imagination and ingegno, impelled symbolic action both verbally and architecturally. Ple_nik's own "grammar of creation" sought constitutive forms in the traditions of Antiquity and ancient Egypt, in Masaryk's ideas of democratic governance as well as in the collective memory of the city. These were informing principles that created a more layered referential field.

The invention of tradition and symbolic identity of the Castle in the new context of republican Czechoslovakia was a complex process accompanied by competing narratives. Masaryk wished the Castle to become "a symbol of our [Czech and Slovak] national democratic ideals," and spoke of a need to "embody" the new parliament in search for an ethical existence rooted in faith and self-education, imbued with both scientific rigour and poetic making, and implemented through the everyday work by all citizens.

A unique example of another type of narrative is a body of correspondence addressed to Ple_nik between 1920 and 1956 by the President's daughter, Alice Garrigue Masaryk (1879-1966), who represented her father in his role as patron and served as a conduit between him, the Castle Building Administration and Ple_nik himself. A close reading of these letters explores to interrogate the role of language in both the transmission of tradition and in the actual process of architectural making and constitutes an original contribution to scholarship.

Marc J. Neveu - Ph.D. - 2006

Architectural Lessons of Carlo Lodoli (1690-1761): Indole of Material and of Self

Architectural Lessons of Carlo Lodoli

Carlo Lodoli (1690-1761) exists as a footnote in most major history books of modern architecture. He is typically noted for either his influence on the Venetian Neoclassical tradition or as an early prophet to some sort of functionalism. Though I would not argue his influence, I doubt his role in the development of a structurally determined functionalism. The issue of influence is always present as very little of his writings have survived and his built work amounts to a few windowsills. He did, however, teach architecture. I propose to explore the pedagogic potential of Lodoli’s lessons of architecture.

Lodoli’s teaching approach was not necessarily professional in that he did not instruct his students in the methods of drawing or construction techniques. Rather, his approach was dialogical. The topics were sweeping, often ethical, and ranged from the nature of truth to the nature of materials. Existing scholarship pertaining to Lodoli most often focuses upon his students’ production of texts, projects, and projections. Andrea Memmo’s Elementi dell’ Architettura Lodoliana (1786, 1833) and Francesco Algarotti’s Saggio sopra l’ architettura (1756) are both specifically named by the respective authors as advancing Lodoli’s architectural theories. Often overlooked are the apologues, or fables, used by Lodoli in lessons to his students. The main source for these fables is the Apologhi Immaginati (1787). Others were included in Memmo’s Elementi. Apologues from both sources have been translated for the first time into English and can be found in Appendix 1 of the dissertation.

I look specifically to these stories to understand and illustrate Lodoli’s approach to making, teaching and thinking. This is understood through Lodoli’ s characterisation of the identity of materials and of the self. Within this dissertation I intend to flesh out the textual and architectural fabric surrounding the pedagogic activities of the Venetian Friar known as the Socrates of Architecture, Carlo Lodoli.

Stephen Parcell - Ph.D. - 2007

Four Historical Definitions of Architecture

The dissertation examines four historical definitions of Western architecture: architecture as a techné in ancient Greece, as a mechanical art in the Middle Ages, as an art of disegno in Renaissance Italy, and as a fine art in the eighteenth century. These definitions situated architecture within larger classifications of knowledge. They established alliances between architecture and other disciplines. They also organized elements of architectural practice: what we would associate conventionally with the designer, builder, dweller, material, drawing, and building. The dissertation reviews writings in each historical period and focuses on the practical implications of several texts: Hugh of St. Victor, Didascalicon; Leon Battista Alberti, De re aedificatoria, Book 1; and Étienne-Louis Boullée, Essai sur l'art. As a series, the four historical definitions show how the very concept of architecture and the elements of architectural practice have been open to change. Even the word "architecture" has questionable roots.

Louise Pelletier – Ph.D. – 2000

Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières’s Architecture of Expression, and The Theatre of Desire at the End of the Ancien Régime; Or, The Analogy of Fiction with Architectural Innovation

This dissertation explores the role of architecture as an expressive language through the transforming notion of character theory in France at the end of the eighteenth century. In antiquity, Vitruvius wrote of the expressive role of architecture in his definition of "decorum." For Vitruvius, architecture could transcend its materiality by expressing the order of the universe.

Important cultural changes in the late seventeenth century transformed the very nature of architecture. A questioning of architecture's natural foundation plunged the whole discipline into a potential crisis of meaning. Eighteenth-century architects began to explore the expressive power of architecture as the product of a personal, culture-specific imagination, and struggled to preserve its meaning so that it could remain a shared language.

Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières (1721–ca.1793), a French architect and theoretician, developed a theory of architecture in which the character of a building should express its destination or the social status of its client. Unlike previous character theories in architecture, Le Camus's theory was based on an explicit analogy between architecture and theatre. His architectural mode of expression followed a temporal progression similar to the dramatic unfolding of a play, and gradations in ornamentation throughout the interior of a building resembled a succession of stage sets in a theatrical performance. This study examines theatrical theories of expression in staging and acting that influenced Le Camus's architectural theory. It also examines the social and political role of the theatre, and considers how formal developments in theatre buildings led to innovations in Le Camus's own built work.

Whereas previous studies of Le Camus de Mézières have focused on his most important architectural treatise, Le génie de l'architecture, ou l'analogie de cet art avec nos sensations, this dissertation considers the wide range of Le Camus's written works, including his plays, a novel, and a description of a picturesque garden. These works disclose the main thread that extends throughout Le Camus's architectural theory, which is to express the erotic tension of an architecture of desire.

Pari Riahi – Ph.D. – 2010

Ars et Ingenium:
The Embodiment of Imagination in the Architectural Drawings of Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Architectural drawings are still the primary means of expression in investigation, representation, and actualization of architectural projects. New technologies have greatly contributed to the propagation of an already existing genre that may be called “paper architecture”, projects that begin and end in drawings. The majority of the computer-generated images, perspectives, montages, and collages made by most architects these days draw us to partake in a world that may be classified as uncanny. Apparently familiar and realistic, current projects also have an otherness that alienate us and deny access to their world, which we are at the same time drawn into, both inviting and repelling. An excess of definition based on unstable grounds of uncertainties tempts one to term these drawings “illusionistic.”

Traditional drawings are to some extent abstract, they offer a distance that creates an intermediary state between being and non-being and directs the architect’s imagination toward the realization of a project, while current representations defy this abstraction, or represent other abstractions that are unfamiliar to us and so take us by surprise. By using transparencies, lighting, and showing a mass of people using the space, these drawings suggest a life for a not yet realized building that is spontaneously exciting and yet has an artificial character to it. In coming to terms with our situation today, I suggest that there is a need to go back and question the origins of what defines our understanding of the normative means of representing architecture, shaped to a great degree during the 15th-century Renaissance in Italy. According to Frommel the slow transfer from the authority of built models as the major means of representation to detailed drawings started in the early 13th Century and was carried through the thriving era of the Renaissance until it achieved cohesive criteria by early 16th Century. Development of perspective drawing, initially elaborated for pictorial representation and its maturing through the span of 15th century, culminated in its use as an essential component of architectural representation. The versatility of artists going from painting to architecture and vice versa led to an enrichment of both domains, as each became the field of exploration for the other. While architectural space became a crucial part of many paintings of the time, pictorial space turned to a field of experimentation for the painter to test his understanding of space and his ability to represent it. Concurrently a subtle preoccupation with the notions of imagination and invention is also present in some of the treatises on painting and architecture. Coping with this relatively new means of expression, Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501) is chosen as a central figure whose contribution to the act of drawing could teach us something that thus far we might have neglected. Besides his paintings, sculpture, fortifications, and architectural projects, Francesco di Giorgio’s essential contribution to the Renaissance is his body of theoretical work known as Trattati di architettura, ingegneria e arte militare, written and rewritten during the course of his life. Francesco di Giorgio’s use of the drawings is not necessarily a novelty. However, his formulation of drawing as the main vehicle for architectural thought is distinctive.

I propose that Francesco di Giorgio’s foremost contribution to architectural theory is neither his translation of Vitruvius, nor his theory of human analogy, nor even his machine designs as separate entities. Rather it is his use of drawing, combined with text, as the primary means and the main mechanism for the architect to inquire, examine, advance, and realize an architectural project that is his greatest achievement. It is thus not surprising that his work was not adopted so much for its theory as for his drawings, which found their way into the artistic circles of the Italian Renaissance and were continuously copied, transformed, and embraced in different contexts. Francesco di Giorgio has never been credited with his clear intention to combine text and drawing, the manner in which they should be used, and what effects they produce in the imagination of the reader/architect. By examining Francesco di Giorgio’s Trattati simultaneously with his drawings, my study aims to depict the characteristics of the act of drawing and its connection to architectural imagination. A thorough examination of Francesco di Giorgio’s work within the two frequently intersecting lines of drawings and imagination might enable us to formulate better what we expect of architectural drawings in our time, which currently are on the verge of a significant shift.

Nicholas Roquet – Ph.D. – 2011

Life in Costume

Because we often assume a thirst for authenticity to be specifically modern, we seldom question its origins or validity. Yet the scepticism with which we meet pictorial representations of the past is, in large measure, a legacy of nineteenth-century Realism. Charles Dickens’s novel The Old Curiosity Shop (1841), for example, is in part a satire of historical representation and its conventions. Halfway through the novel, Dickens evokes a travelling waxwork, whose owner has “an inventive genius” for adapting her wares to the taste of her changing audiences:

Mr Pitt in a nightcap and bedgown, and without his boots, represented the poet Cowper with perfect exactness; and Mary Queen of Scots in a dark wig, white shirt collar, and male attire, was such a complete image of Lord Byron that the young ladies quite screamed when they saw it.

The waxwork provides an apt image for the questions which underlie my dissertation: is it legitimate to mobilize survivals of the past for present-day purposes? And under what conditions may such survivals still be understood as authentic?

The dissertation examines the meaning of “past” in the domestic interiors of British architect William Burges (1827-1881) Along with G. E. Street, William Butterfield and G. G. Scott, Burges is recognized in contemporary historiography as one of the leading figures of the Gothic Revival in Britain. A member of the Ecclesiological Society, Burges rose to prominence as an architect and medieval scholar with his winning entry in the competition for Lille Cathedral in 1856. But what makes Burges useful for my purpose are those aspects of his work which distinguish him as a misfit among High Victorian architects: alone among a generation deeply preoccupied with developing a new style for a new age, Burges gave himself the freedom not to be of his time; and as the Revival lost impetus in the late 1860s, he remained committed to the persona of a latter-day medieval master.

The dissertation’s central argument is that one possible response to the crisis of historicism in the late nineteenth century was to exalt artifice, rather than divest oneself of it. Freed from narratives of development or progress, historical forms could now be viewed as pure conventions—as words with which one might freely play. As with earlier, Romantic forms of historical representation, this stance also made a theatre of the past, but stripped it of any rhetorical claim to authenticity. In this sense, one can speak of the historical interior in the late nineteenth century as a form of “costume” rather than “dress”: even as it lost credibility as a truthful expression of epoch, rank, or personal character, the interior took on a new function of self-invention. More than any formal resemblance to the Aestheticism of the 1880s, it is this underlying attitude to the past which links Burges’s architecture to the dandyism of Baudelaire, Wilde, and the Huysmans of À Rebours.

Carlos Rueda-Plata – Ph.D. – 2008

The Making of Place as a Construct of Imagined Realities

This thesis is committed to strengthen the need to articulate the concept of place -beyond usual discussions on the internal “evolution” of architectural discourse- by treating place creation as a as highly advanced form of thought and action in society. An objective to be achieved through the “deciphering” of three contemporary place-making concretions, in the form of architectonic and urban complexes, by Rogelio Salmona. These are transformed public environments that, corresponding to the development of advanced notions on the aesthetic exploration of space and place, in current times, I argue, they were also -and mainly- conceived in the task of anticipating -or prefiguring- a desired reality, specific to the Colombian society of the late 20th century.

The research is focused in the analysis of works, not merely in the discussion on the generative forces. However, it requires acquiring specific knowledge on the personality of the author and his social frame, a concept, which in accordance with Pierre Francastel means “the interaction between the intellectual and technical conditions of creative activity”. The verification of Salmona´s ideological consistence and the methodology is mainly informed by P. Francastel (1900-1970), a French thinker who was particularly relevant to Salmona, in structuring his conception of the practice of the art of architecture as well as in the taking of a historical and ideological positioning.

Hui Zou - Ph.D. - 2006

The Jing of Line-Method: A Perspective Garden in the Garden of Round Brightness

The Jing of Line-Method: A Perspective Garden in the Garden of Round Brightness

This dissertation examines the history of the Western Multistoried-Buildings garden (Xiyang lou) located within the Chinese imperial Garden of Round Brightness (Yuanming yuan) of the Qing dynasty. As a “Western-like” garden designed and co-built by the European Jesuits in China, the Western Multistoried-Buildings garden was unique in garden history. It provides a significant case study of the cultural encounter between Chinese and European civilizations in the eighteenth century. Focusing on the communication between the visions of the Chinese emperor and the Western Jesuits during the construction of this European garden, this research demonstrates how Jesuit metaphysics fused with Chinese cosmology through the creation of the multiple jing, the bright views of the garden scenes, using the technique of the “line-method,” which embodied the Chinese transformation of Western linear perspective. Differing from the usual approach in history and cross-cultural studies that treats buildings and gardens as secondary objects re-presenting a priori or a posteriori ideas, it goes directly to the material context to analyze how the creation of a garden framed the minds of individuals who came from different cultures and religions. Such a “materialist” approach not only acts as a reflection of the Western metaphysical approach as well as the Marxist dialectic materialism in modern China, but also attempts to initiate a new interpretative perspective that is closer to the poetic essence of the Chinese culture. As the Western Multistoried-Buildings garden demonstrates, there does exist a way by which cultural and religious conflicts are dissolved into the “round brightness” of cultural fusion, which in turn makes cultural differences shine. The dissertation consists of four chapters: the vision of round brightness in two Chinese emperors’ minds; the thought provoking scenes within Chinese gardens—jing; the Chinese eighteenth-century translation of Western linear perspective—“line-method”; and the multiple jing of round brightness composed through line-method. In the dissertation, the author presents his English translations of many valuable primary sources of the Qing dynasty including the imperial archives, the emperors’ poetry and prose, and the emperors’ records (ji) of the Qing imperial gardens. These translations appear for the first time in the scholarship of sinology as well as architecture and garden history.