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Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction [Paperback]

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Item description for Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction by Nikos A. Salingaros...

"The Emperor Has No Clothes" is an old adage, but, in the sad case of Deconstructivism, it is absolutely appropriate, as Deconstructivism is really nothing more than Modernism in a new guise. Modernists, notably the Bauhusler, aimed for the clean slate, jettisoning everything that went before. Yet, at times, they claimed links with antecedents to give a spurious historical ancestry to their aims and creations. These questionable links and precedents are now being claimed for the works of Deconstructivists by sympathetic architects and their supporters. The second edition of this book is the beginning of a long-overdue counterattack.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   210
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.4" Width: 6.7" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 31, 2007
Publisher   ISI Distributed Titles
ISBN  3937954082  
ISBN13  9783937954080  

Availability  0 units.

More About Nikos A. Salingaros

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr. Nikos Salingaros is regarded as one of the world's leading architectural theorists.He is professor of mathematics at the University of Texas San Antonio, and is on the architecture faculties of the University of Rome, and Delft University of Technology. He is consultant to the Schools of Architecture of the Catholic University of Portugal, Viseu, and Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Architecture
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Criticism
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction?

Dense, Solid and Rich  Feb 25, 2008
The great architects Vitruvius and Palladio devoted their lives to bringing architecture to life, by working from a powerful mastery of science, mathematics, and Universal laws. In a continuance of this heritage, Dr. Nikos A. Salingaros has used his contemporary genius in mathematical physics to architecture to create a collective body of work that sets forth scientific evidence showing the series of illogical and misleading failures of the Modern and Deconstruction movements.

In this particular book "Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction," via a series of brilliant essays by himself, and with others, Dr. Salingaros exposes the low degree of organized complexity in Modernism and Deconstruction, and elegantly outlines their destructive and dangerous nature.

Salingaros exposes the hideous cult atmosphere they created and the pseudo-intellectual theory that accompanied it, to sell their concepts and proposals. It is perfectly clear to the reader how such trickery, skillfully utilized, has unfortunately in this case allowed such distorted manifestations of architecture and urban planning to occur worldwide. He additionally makes clear how the practitioners, and propagandists of those movements, who force-fed ugly, monstrous and evil architecture upon the public, are themselves lacking scientific knowledge, and an understanding of the human soul.

Utilizing an outstanding level of intellectual clarity and vigor, Dr. Salingaros shows once again that relying upon fact, history, and scientific analyses yields incredible results.
Thw Way Out of Architecture's Dead-End Begins Here  Sep 19, 2007
Salingaros's "Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction" is both like and unlike Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House.

Wolfe's book tells the story of a movement that begins with the European left's rejection of everything bourgeois, and ends with ugly but prestigious buildings built and financed by bourgeois kingpins of American capitalism.

Salingaros's Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction likewise involves a European philosophy (or ideology, to be more precise) that has also created an architecture of sorts. But while Wolfe's book is journalistic and tells a story, Salingaros's is analytic and engaged. Salingaros means to change things.

Anti-Architecture is structured as a series of letters, commentaries and meditations--most but not all of them written by Salingaros. The final chapter presents a conversation between the author and the architect Christopher Alexander.

Salingaros clearly considers the deconstructivist theory behind post-modern architecture to be nonsensical. Whether post-modernists will find this insulting or not is less clear. If one's task is to de-construct reality, then no doubt nonsense performs the job as well as any other methodology.

Deconstructivist intellectuals such as Derrida are usually associated with the left, and presumably Derrida himself considered himself of the left. Ideological systems, however, are remarkably similar, regardless of how they self-identify. The realm of the ideological slips easily from left to right and back again.

Take, for example, the following self-description from the Deconstructivist Architecture show at the Museum of Modern Art: "The lurid overtones of violence and corruption are intentional; they are, in fact, central to the ethos of deconstructive architecture ... Disturb, torture, interrogate, contaminate, infect; these are the words [chosen] to explain and to praise deconstructive architecture" (Anti-Architecture, 122). Violence, torture, interrogation--sounds rather like a description of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay.

Another section of the book surveys the thought and work of the post-modernist architect Bernard Tschumi. It was Tschumi who designed the Parisian "Parc de Villette" (which has been described by the Project for Public Spaces as among the world's most boring and unsuccessful parks). Now deconstruction, we are often told, is a kind of game, and certainly Tschumi has some very playful notions about deconstructivist architecture. In one theoretical work, for example, Tschumi regales his readers with tips from the Marquis de Sade on how, with a single sexual act, it is possible to simultaneously commit incest, sodomy and sacrilege. I'm not kidding.

Deconstruction, in other words, leads to a dead-end. To his credit, Salingaros does more than dwell on what he opposes: he also seeks a way forward, and his efforts in this direction involve a sometimes uneasy conversation between the sacred and the scientific.

There is neither time nor room here to properly develop this theme. To do it justice would require, at minimum, putting Salingaros's book in the context of all his other writings plus his many years collaboration with Christopher Alexander. For now, the following generalizations will have to suffice. Both Salingaros and Alexander have refused to engage in either nostalgia for a pre-scientific religiosity or in despairing acceptance of a meaningless mechanistic nature. Like the early-20th century French philosopher Simone Weil (whom everyone, in my opinion, should read carefully), they recognize that the beauty described by true science and the beauty described by true religiosity, are one and the same. They recognize that it is not the point of architecture to just theorize about this and that, and still less is it architecture's job to produce pretty baubles for elites. The task of architecture is to connect beauty with the everyday life of all those who work for a living. A life so lived is full of meaning at every moment.

Responsive Arguments for a Better Future  Jul 3, 2007
Extract from a review in Vol 1, Issue 2 of Archnet--IJAR, July 2007

In this book, Nikos A. Salingaros sets the stage for a new thinking about the current status of architecture. Twelve essays critically analyze evolutionary aspects of modernism and post-Modernism, while heavily criticizing the resulting end-style of these two movements: Deconstructivism. The main argument of this manuscript lies in Salingaros' belief that architectural deconstruction is not a new thing. It has started since the 1920s from the Bauhaus, the international style, and modernism, going through new brutalism and late and post modernism. Each of these "-ISMS" is regarded as a cult that had tremendous negative impacts on they way in which we think about or approach architecture in pedagogy and practice. Salingaros argues, and rightly so, that deconstructivists have disassociated themselves from the lessons derived from history and precedents, while distancing themselves from basic human needs and cultural contexts.

One should note his criticism of the critics, the articulate and fancy rhetoric and writings of Charles Jencks and Bernard Tschumi. He points out that Jencks' understanding and use of scientific concepts to justify and celebrate deconstructivist architecture is simply superficial. On the other hand, Bernard Tschumi's two major writings titled "The Manhattan Transcripts" and "Architecture and Disjunction" were closely examined by Salingaros. He concluded that Tschumi's work is a collection of meaningless images that resembles advertising and a false claim of knowledge of mathematics in analogizing it to architectural form.

The other ten essays offer eloquent and convincing arguments against such a destructive attitude of deconstructivism and deconstructivists. However, three of these should be highlighted. The essays titled "Derrida Virus", "Background Material for the Derrida Virus", and "Death, Life and Libeskind" eloquently show how Derrida's notion of deconstructivism became a dangerous virus, which keep reproducing itself infinitely. Derrida, an Algerian-born French philosopher founded such a notion in literary criticism, and described it as "a method for analyzing texts based on the idea that language is inherently unstable and shifting, and that the reader rather than author is central in determining the meaning" (Derrida, 1973). While his work was heavily criticized by prominent linguists and philosophers including Noam Chomsky, it found listening receptive ears in the architectural community, a typical habit of many name architects who run after slogans and strange notions that help them to philosophize and theorize in order to justify their work.

Metaphorically, the virus has killed almost all connections to the past, to humanity, and to context. The resulting ills are manifested in many cities, but the trauma is well articulated in the work of Daniel Libeskind in the Ground Zero Proposal, the Seattle Public Library, and the Berlin Holocaust Museum. Salingaros shows how the rhetoric surrounding the claims of Libeskind on the emotional experience of the Ground Zero proposal are nothing but negative. In this respect, a reference needs to be made to university campuses that are supposed to convey constructive messages about the future of learning, research, and humanity; they are calling deconstructivists to destruct their learning environments. This is clearly evident in the work of Antoine Predock in the McNamara Alumni Center of the University of Minnesota, and the work of Frank Gehry's Wiseman Art Museum of the same University. Notably, Gehry's work is invading many university campuses including Case Western Reserve University through its School of Business, and the University of Cincinnati through its Center for Molecular Studies. University campuses are intentionally conveying "deconstructive" messages.

Undoubtedly, this manuscript is a voice of logic and reason against anti-architecture norms, and the destructive attitudes of their followers. I would add my voice to other reviewers of this manuscript: that it must be a mandatory reading in schools of architecture worldwide. Salingaros' call for going against those attitudes and regaining our interest in solutions to human problems needs to be adopted. The manuscript's thrust for re-associating ourselves to the near and distant past -- depending on who we are and the cultural context in which we operate -- deserves special attention by both academics and practitioners.

Ashraf Salama, Ph.D.
Professor of Architecture

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