Architecture Over the Centuries
Professor Nam Sung-taek (Department of Architecture)
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Professor Nam Sung-taek of the Department of Architecture holds his prime interest in the comprehensive theory of symphonizing diverse scales of artificial environmental design from a small-scaled objet—a French word meaning object, material, or thing—to a large-scaled city. In his paper, 'The Effect of Everyday Objects on Indoor Remodeling: Loos and Le Corbusier, 'Housing Professors' ', Nam minutely elucidated the relationship between objets and space, which all together contribute to the principles of architecture. He also accounted for the change of the roles of architects and the definition of architecture design as a result of the shift in production of goods from artisan’s craftsmanship to mass production in factories as industrialization took place in the 20th century.
Shift in the Role of Architects
Up until the early 20th century, the idea of total art was dominant in the field of architecture. It is a system in which an architect designs not only the architecture itself but also what is contained within and stands around that construction, from the objets that relate to everyday life including spoons and chairs to the entire city at large. In other words, an architect used to design everything from an objet to the whole city, becoming a “form master” who created and designed small objets, spaces, and architectures that eventually expanded and came together to form a city.
It was not only the buildings themselves that portray the architect’s work but also what is in the building and how the objets were put in place as well. This convention often emphasized the artistic work that regarded the whole city as one architect’s art work, giving rise to the concept of total art again. The architects who sought the ideals of total art were tossed with an insurmountable dilemma—whether to reject or accept the shift—as the industrialized city began producing things that could not be hand-made and that which were more readily accessible, suggesting an alternative option for the residents to design their own homes instead of entrusting the experts.
In the face of such confusion, two architects who proposed a new notion at the time were Adolf Loos of Austria and Le Corbusier of Switzerland. The two architects embraced the on-going change and adjusted the principles of architecture accordingly, pioneering a concept called 'housing professor', which pointed out that architects are no longer form masters but teachers who educate people on residence and living: that is, training them how to select the appropriate objets for individual’s houses, rather than designing every little piece in a work. Their proposition allowed the residents to scheme their own houses by choosing objets that suited their taste and personality, creating what is like a personal 'museum' or 'gallery'.
“I admire the two outstanding architects in many aspects. They did not simply encage themselves within the traditional boundaries of architecture and rejected external factors such as changes or surrounding environments but attentively examined all the potential influences around them that might have an impact on their work. Embracing and incorporating the on-going circumstance candidly was the key to permitting further improvements to breakthrough. To create every piece of a complete architecture from an objet at small to a city at large, the two architects observed and applied the outside forces into their architecture and did not hesitate to change their views if necessary,” noted Nam.
It was not so strange in the past for an individual to seek the help of an architect to design the doors and tables to be placed in their houses. However, industrialization pivoted this perspective, by letting individuals to freely choose and customize the designs of their houses. Consequently, the opposite is true today. people seldom desire guidance of architects and prefer to independently pick the objets and sketch their own rooms when it comes to architecture. On this note, with people having much interest in designing their residences, Nam hopes those interests connect to the study of architecture, which became too cultural to be solely considered as an academic branch nowadays. He hopes that architecture will mean something more than just a part of industry and highlight its cultural aspect which can be a crucial part in our history.
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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