Understanding Meaningful Environments: Architectural Precedents and the Question of Identity in Creative Design intends to put forward a discussion on the use of precedents and the production of innovative designs as well as to discuss the relationship between precedents and identity in a world undergoing a rapid process of globalization. This publication provides insights into how the strategy of making use of design precedents as a source of knowledge rather than initiating a project from tabula rasa leads to efficient, effective, and/or innovative results, based, in particular, on the work of Le Corbusier and Santiago Calatrava. In the sense that architects’ ideologies and intentions did not form a main position in this account, one may say that it is not a value-added approach. However, in this publication, this other side of the use of precedents is explored, i.e. recollection and intention, because in addition to innovations, the critical use of precedents seems to help in the production of buildings/places that embody a critical notion of identity. The goal of this study is to provide a reflection on the themes mentioned, as well as to briefly discuss methods for precedent analysis.
This publication was made possible due to the support of Prof. T. de Jong, chairman of the Milieuplanning & Ecologie/ Environment and Ecology Section, Department of Urbanism of Delft University of Technology. We would like to thank him for the administrative and financial support as well as for technical facilities and staff. Invaluable support was given by Jos van Heerde, student assistant, who prepared the layout of the book and Wouter Notenbomer who manage to finish our last version. We are grateful to both for their work as well as to Marcus Richardson for the redaction of the whole book.
This publication is directly connected to the Precedents and Identity seminar held on June 22–23, 2005 as a result of Karina Moraes Zarzar's research on design precedents during her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Alexander Tzonis and on the question of identity at the Public Building Section. This seminar was made possible due to the administrative and financial support of Prof. S.U. Barbieri, chairman of the Public Buildings Section, Department of Architecture of Delft University of Technology. This seminar could not have succeeded without the support of two student-assistants, Aurélien Coulanges and Julie Heyde, who prepared the readers and posters, coordinated the inscription of the participants and participated intensively in the discussions during the seminar.
We are indebted to Liane Lefaivre, Roberto Segre, Celestino Soddu, and Enrica Colabella for their lectures and discussions during the Precedents and Identity seminar and are consequently also indebted to them for their direct or indirect participation in this publication. We also thank all participants who carried out a series of exercises involving the two main themes of the seminar. Moreover we thank Na Wang and Joo-Hwa Bay for their later contribution enriching the discussion of our main themes in this publication.
We thank all our students from Methods and Analysis at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft for their indirect but extremely valuable contributions in the discussion of our main themes. Finally, since we are interested in precedents that may embody a critical identity of the place, we are particularly indebted to Critical Regionalists, in particular to Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis.
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