In What Style Could They Have Built?

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    Giving an obvious twist to the title of Heinrich H bsch's 1928 essay, "In What Style Should We Build?" this essay plots the thematic advances made to the subject by Gottfried Semper's theory of style. That the idea of style was essential to the nineteenth century architect's theorisation of architecture is paramount. What this essay aims to accomplish is to discuss the particular addressed in Semper's theory of style. Of interest is the etymology of the term style itself. The roots of the French and English style, but also the German word stil go back to the Latin stilus meaning a pointed tool for writing or engraving on a tablet. Thus can be appreciated the significance of Semper's discussion of the tectonic where the aesthetic is conjugated with the technique. And this, with association to Carl Botticher's notion of style, will set the theoretical premise for this paper. While Botticher saw style associable with the spatial covering potentialities of a given technique, Semper's theory of style dismantles the entire theoretical edifice of the nineteenth century debate on this subject. Against the historicists' emulation of past styles, Semper took the task upon himself to formulate a theory of style, the thematic of which involves motifs developed in applied arts rather than in frozen images of classical or Gothic architecture
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)73-92
    Number of pages20
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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