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Constructional theory in Britain, 1870s – 1930s

Sirikiatikul, P; (2012) Constructional theory in Britain, 1870s – 1930s. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Unlike spoken and written theories, the constructional ‘theories’ explored in this thesis are drawn essentially from ‘practice’. While occasionally drawing upon what architects said and wrote, the thesis investigates the extent to which architects have worked out their theoretical propositions within the practical aspects of building, without necessarily articulating them verbally. Of the recent discussions on the relation of architectural theory to building practice, Kenneth Frampton’s Studies in Tectonic Culture (1995) stands out; but Frampton’s book is limited by his anti‐postmodernist framework, his mode of argument that largely attributes the value of architectural works to a theoretical dimension, his treatment of construction as a constant and passive given, and his disregard for the entirety of British architecture. This thesis criticises Studies in Tectonic Culture, arguing that British architecture offers some alternatives for thinking about the dialectics of ‘theory’ and ‘construction’. The way in which some British architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries worked – experimental, craft‐based and treating the process of construction as integral to the process of design – indicated that for them construction was more than simply a medium through which an architect’s ideas are expressed; and out of their calculated employment of construction, considered in terms of ‘labour’, ‘building’, ‘material’, and ‘representation’, could emerge a certain ‘implicit intellectuality’, which was no less a ‘theory’ than verbally articulated statements existing prior to construction. It is not theory that dictates construction, but rather that ‘construction’ itself can be a ‘theory’ in the process of becoming. In opening up possibilities for thinking about constructional ‘theory’, the thesis suggests the removal of an assumed theory/practice distinction, proposing instead ‘practice’ as essentially an indispensable body of ‘immanent theory’ as an alternative to Frampton’s theory of the Tectonic.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Constructional theory in Britain, 1870s – 1930s
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright restricted material has been removed from the e-thesis
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1353341
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