From the Archives...
MG Taylor Philosophy and Practice of Architecture
[Matt Taylor Journal pages 44, 45, December
30, 1978, ]
The Fourth Domain of the Seven
Domains Model is Environment. One of the MG Taylor maxims is, "structure
wins." This applies in particular to the field of architecture and the
work and living environments created through that art and science. Most organizational
transformation is doomed from the outset because the culture represented by
the built environment reinforces an old way of work and thought, and inhibits
the expression of collaborative group genius and individual excellence as
well. Or, the breadth and depth of the design is severely attenuated through
misunderstanding the fact that architecture mirrors and creates the human
condition. So if we design and inhabit corporate ghettos, palaces or fortresses,
we can expect to reinforce behaviors that coincide with these forms. The Transition
Manager must cultivate an incisive understanding of how the physical environment
promotes or thwarts the goals and vision of the transformation--the organization's
ability to continuously respond to and create change in a healthy way. He
or she must add to that a strategic capacity to facilitate the recreation
of the environment so that it aligns with and enables the vision.
Further comments by the editor are indicated
in maroon italics.
Meaning and Attributes of Architecture
Architecture is the objectification of the values humans hold
essential to living: these values are made concrete by building and using
the structures that form our environment.
has three attributes. (An attribute is that which is essential
to a system--without which the system either ceases to be or becomes something
else.) It shelters a human's life; produces an efficient arrangement
of space and utilities; and expresses the best of human life (the values
that make life possible and worth while).
Architecture distinguishes between existence and living.
The attributes of shelter and arrangement are primarily utilitarian. The
attribute of expression is primarily aesthetic. All three must be harmoniously
integrated, one with the other.
Architecture is created by transforming problems of shelter and arrangement
into the expression of an explicit lifestyle, aesthetically practicing
specific values. Utilitarian concerns--bricks, boards, aluminum, glass,
steel--are the medium of the architectural art.
Architecture is the sound track to a person's life; expressing, leading,
teaching, sometimes pushing--generally providing embellishment, highlight,
focus, punctuation to that life and its meaning.
The three attributes must be in harmony, but they do exist in a natural
hierarchy. The structure, or shelter, may allow a few feet one way or another
and still properly shelter. Arrangement may allow a few inches (for most
concerns) and still be efficient. Expression is usually a hairline concern:
aesthetics is the fine tuning of the system.
The function of architecture is to create a proper environment for human
beings according to their nature as a race, and as individuals. To function,
architecture must be an expression of life, as well as a shelter for it.
In a masterpiece work, one can find no element that does not reflect all
three attributes of architecture as one.
The Way of Life
Lifestyle and use is the basis of all architectural theory and
practice. In art, the artist eliminates the insignificant by focusing on
what is important (to the artist). The art of architecture allows nothing
to become unimportant by making every action within the environment an
act of living art. This is done by expressing the essence of those values
deemed important to life in concrete form, and by practicing those values
through creative ritual and ceremony.
Architecture and the architect are not only expressing the values of
a culture but creating the physical environment that alters, reinforces,
expands or negates those values.
Architectural philosophy cannot start with design philosophy but must
constantly address the focus: what is (can be) a human be-ing; what is
(are) the proper life styles for human beings?
Great architecture is a self-aware process.
Scope of Architectural Concerns
An architect (master builder) "controls" all five
areas [of the diagram shown below]. The traditional architectural practice
deals primarily with 2 and 3 [design solution and contract documents],
and has some minor involvement with 4 [construction and fabrication], and
very rarely with 5 [lifestyle and use].
The design solution is usually controlled by the developer and/or the
patron. It's also controlled directly by laws, rules, taxes, and social
traditions. The typical architect is in fact an architectural designer.
For real architecture to be produced, a comprehensive synthesis must
exist between these five areas, tying the specialties together to form
a unique system, and close the whole cycle.
[see related information in the Design
Build Use model]