The Gehry House and “Spatial Equivalents in the World System”: Hermeneutics of Object or Translations of Work?

By Levent Kara.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We may delineate two senses of interpretation in architecture. In one sense, interpretation is “an effort of evaluation of an architectural statement and of proposing hypothesis as to its possible meaning which necessarily constitutes transcoding operations in which we frame equivalents for architectural and spatial phenomenon in other codes or theoretical languages” (Jameson 1991, 120). In another sense, interpretation indicates a “pointing in a particular direction, rather than an end point”; that is, “not a conceptual explanation but much more like understanding and explicating… not a reading in of some meaning but clearly a revealing of what the thing itself already points to” (Gadamer 1986, 68). While architects mostly operate within this latter sense of interpretation of architecture in the design process, a hermeneutics of the object, from the precedent analyses to retrospective iterations of the design work at hand, it is the former sense of interpretation, a translation of the architectural work into other cultural codes, that has been the celebrated notion in contemporary architectural theory. My intention in this paper is to show that the interpretations of architectural works through other modes of cultural production bypass an irreducible level of experience in the immediacy of the architectural object and carry an inherent risk of losing touch with architecture as a mode of thinking life through making material form.

Keywords: Architecture, Interpretation, Hermeneutics, Object, Narrative, Experience, Structuralism

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.145-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 733.698KB).

Dr. Levent Kara

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Community Design, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Dr. Levent Kara joined the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design in 2010. He received his B.Arch and M.Arch degrees from Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi (Turkey) and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Dr. Kara is a registered architect in Turkey where he practiced for several years before coming to the University of Florida for doctoral studies in 2002 with a full four-year Alumni Fellowship. His practice in Turkey involved commissioned design work, competition entries, and construction supervision. Prior to his appointment at USF, Dr. Kara taught design studios and theory and history courses in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Dr. Kara’s research investigates architectural design as a critical practice in the production of culture. To this end, his scholarship mainly concentrates on the epistemology of design thinking, from the fundamental modalities of architectural design in terms of the relation between thinking and making, to the contemporary dilemmas surrounding the theory / practice dichotomy. This main focus on the epistemology of architectural design is further supported by lateral research on the interfaces between architectural design and other modes of cultural production including formal philosophical investigations in natural epistemology, aesthetics and culture theory, and pedagogical investigations in architectural design and theory. Dr. Kara’s writings range from formal philosophical subjects in epistemology, aesthetics, and culture theory, to architectural design, theory and criticism, and architectural pedagogy.


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