The function of aesthetics in architecture education: TU/e in the 1970s

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

Abstract

While the discipline of architecture has always valued aesthetics, the same has not always been the case for the profession of architecture. This split has often been presented as two opposing perceptions of architecture, that is, the understanding of architecture as an artistic expression or as the science of building. While both dimensions are important for a full understanding (and appreciation) of architecture, even if inadvertently, academic programs tend to favor one dimension one over the other in their teaching of architecture.
This was, rather consciously, the case at TU Eindhoven (TU/e). When its architecture department was first established in 1966 (then still the Eindhoven Polytechnic), it was specifically intended to place an emphasis on the technical aspects of architecture. Such forceful promotion of architecture as a profession concerned primarily with the science of building was perhaps best expressed by the curriculum devised by the department’s first dean (1967-75), John Habraken, which greatly focused on architecture’s supports and infills. Although Habraken’s distinction between infrastructure and inhabited space was in itself a radical concept, its teaching was not only rigid but also greatly limited the scope of architecture to, mostly, the problems of technique.
The dissatisfaction with Habraken’s curriculum became a flashpoint for the Eindhoven student revolts in the early 1970s and allowed for the introduction of free project work to the new foundation course. This provided the space for aesthetic considerations to be introduced to the curriculum in a structural manner. Effectively, supported by reflections on history, theory and criticism, in Eindhoven the appreciation of architecture expanded beyond functionalism to also include aesthetic appreciation. Beyond technique, architecture was also emotion.
The establishment of the chair of Architecture History and Theory (commonly known as AGT) in 1973 with Geert Bekaert’s appointment, provided an exceptional impetus for a greater appreciation of architecture as a discipline in Eindhoven. Its influence in shaping the architectural production of TU/e students was almost immediate, with its presence fostering a greater appreciation for architecture’s intellectual and aesthetic dimensions. Eventually, AGT fostered the emergence of a unique postmodern—and even autonomous—architectural expression in the Netherlands. An architecture freed from tectonic constrains or functional requirements that explored the full range of aesthetic sensations and experiences, in which the function of aesthetics displaced the aesthetics of function.
This paper will discuss how aesthetics in general, but the appreciation of art, beauty, and the development of taste, as well as the ambition to create aesthetic experiences, became the most important instrument in broadening the understanding of architecture at TU Eindhoven. Through aesthetic appreciation, TU/e was no longer educating engineers with some basic understanding of architectural design, but rather humanist architects equipped with a critical stance and an appreciation of beauty and art. Ultimately, the function of aesthetics at TU/e was to free architecture from its original limited task and allow it to probe the depths of the human condition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
EventThe problem of the Building: symposium of the Nederlands Genootschap voor Esthetica - Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Oct 201926 Oct 2019

Conference

ConferenceThe problem of the Building
CountryNetherlands
CityEindhoven
Period25/10/1926/10/19

Fingerprint

Aesthetics
Eindhoven
Education
1970s
Curriculum
Teaching
Art
Aesthetic Appreciation
Aesthetic Experience
Human Condition
History
Split
History of Architecture
Ambition
Emotion
Architectural Design
Impetus
Tectonics
The Netherlands
Functionalism

Cite this

Figueiredo, S. M. (2019). The function of aesthetics in architecture education: TU/e in the 1970s. Paper presented at The problem of the Building, Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Figueiredo, Sergio M. / The function of aesthetics in architecture education : TU/e in the 1970s. Paper presented at The problem of the Building, Eindhoven, Netherlands.
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Figueiredo, SM 2019, 'The function of aesthetics in architecture education: TU/e in the 1970s' Paper presented at The problem of the Building, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 25/10/19 - 26/10/19, .

The function of aesthetics in architecture education : TU/e in the 1970s. / Figueiredo, Sergio M.

2019. Paper presented at The problem of the Building, Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

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Figueiredo SM. The function of aesthetics in architecture education: TU/e in the 1970s. 2019. Paper presented at The problem of the Building, Eindhoven, Netherlands.