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The nature of the artificial: the contingent and the necessary in spatial form in architecture

Hillier, B; (1985) The nature of the artificial: the contingent and the necessary in spatial form in architecture. Geoforum , 16 (2) pp. 163-178. 10.1016/0016-7185(85)90026-0. Green open access

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Abstract

As an explanatory ? as opposed to a descriptive ? concept, purpose has long since been dispensed with in natural science. But recently it has taken up residence in the ?sciences of the artificial? since, it is argued, the form and nature of artefacts can only be understood in terms of the human purposes they serve. The aim of this paper is to show, by examples, that in the case of architecture and urbanism ? the largest human artefacts apart from society itself ? the argument is fallacious. Architectural and urban artefacts exist to organise and order space for human purposes. But their form and nature cannot be explained in terms of these purposes alone. Explanation requires an understanding of morphological laws of space, within which human purposes work themselves out. The laws are, it would seem, akin to natural laws, and would not justify any special epistemological stance for the ?sciences of the artificial?. Purpose should not therefore be given any more privileged status for artefacts than it has for nature. In both areas the role of science is to give an account of the underlying morphological constraints on possibility.

Type: Article
Title: The nature of the artificial: the contingent and the necessary in spatial form in architecture
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/0016-7185(85)90026-0
Additional information: Imported via OAI, 7:29:01 16th Sep 2005
UCL classification: UCL
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/81
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