e reflections

on architecture & urbanism


Manoj Parmar I Director 



The French philosopher, Rene’ Descartes contributed to the doctrine and principal of historical objectivity compounding to the theoretical foundation of ”Cartesianism” through his treatise, ‘’Discourse on Method.”  It began to emphasize historicity in the light of conceptual objectivity. The relationship of mind and corporeal sensuality is subjected to the objective  rationalism of forces that shape production (object). The objective historicism brings about substantialism of matter by dividing existence into mind, matter and nature.

Along with Descartes, Montesquieu through his treatise, “The Spirit of Laws” discarded the theological interpretation of exitsence and paved the way for the scientific history of human culture. In spite of the intimate connection between nature and culture, reason determines the nature of responses.

The ‘’Discourse on Method” and “The Spirit of Laws” began to revive the renaissance significance of anthropocentric space along with essential qualitites of a critical spirit, objectivity and secularization of thought that has pervaded into the contemporary thought pattern of objectivity for the architectural paradigm.

Houses have always remained as theoretical excursion mediums to set new cannons for contemporary practice in Architecture. The re-invention of the house as a “Machine for Living” became the  metaphoric object of Modern life.

The minimum form and maximum function set a new alignment to the aesthetic of house form. The rationality and vitality of program remained a constant victim for seeking a new language of architecture, per se. Architecture of houses always dealt with the duality of transfer of forms regard/ disregard for the program. The harder the contrast, the more it sets the challenge to contemporary living.

The House as a simple appliance was an operative metaphor which sets a new experiment in methodical cartesianism of architectural thought in attempting to locate the aesthetic (space) of houses. Houses have always remained products of systematic theoretical and rational research in the formal field of architecture.

Such research into the nature of objects leads to resultant forms, that determine the modern method of production and construction. The formal handling of volumes nevertheless convincingly demonstrates the aesthetic presence in architecture of houses while locating the parallel  drawn from reading of “Discourse on Method” 





“It renders the power of judging aright and distinguishing the object of truth from error which brings good sense of reason and by nature is equal in all men”


The outrageous rejection of ornamentation and drawing its parallel with crime is a clear indication of aesthetics that principally objectified and resulted from scientific investigation of form. Adolf Loos work sets away from formalistic tendencies of form to plan in space. Adolf Loos’ work sets away from formalistic tendencies of form to plan in space. The sequencing of spaces was the determinant factor of organizing the house programme.

“The indiscriminate juxtaposition of values of time where perfection of work composed of a collective is poised against the object perceived by cohesive method of assemblance.”



The Bauhaus attempted to contribute to development appropriate to the time, of housing, from the simplest appliances to finished dwelling and they must relate to each other rationally.

The school destined to achieve systematic, theoretical and practical research into formal, technical and economical fields – to derive the form of an object from its natural function and limitation.

“The provisory code of morals composed of maxims and actions based on the probable when ther power to determine the object of truth is low.”


The metaphor of universality of art form over individuality. The rigorous rejection of all representational reference, including the cubist and purist. Nature was too material, too individual, universal art allowed only for abstract composition, as equilibrium of position and weight of colour.


The De Stijl was concerned with the calculation of unequal masses in an anti-cubist system which exploded the closed contours of volumetric bodies. The de-composition of the cube led to the de-composition of programme as universal, flexible and anti-dogmatic.

The contemporary practice that exists throughout the world is unified and inclusive, not fragmented and contradictory like much of the production of the first generation of modern architects.



The minimum form & reduction of program, construction confirms the ideal of anti- individual & architecture that lies precariously trapped between art and kitsch of the fifties.

The objects that are perceived awake had no more truth in them than illusion as dreams. The self is a substance whose whole essence or nature coexists in thinking.”


In modern life, the world of activity has created its own objects: pen, typewriter, furniture, ocean liner, likewise the house needs to be re- invented from the clutches of pilasters, crowns etc. The house is a mach1ne for living in, it acquires clean air, full sunlight, and beauty in harmonious proportions.


The Architecture of time passionately demonstrated the nature of contemporary architecture of houses through industrial principles of construction (Domino), and exaggerated sequencing of program.


The Mathematics of the structural grid and a similar proportioning system with relationship to a higher (mathematical) order were some of the paradigmatic shifts from the precedence. 

They consisted of the spaces with fixed forms and harmonic interrelationships composed of horizontal layers of free space defined by the floor and roof slabs. The     ROOMS varied in shape and were asymmetrically arranged at each level. The plan insists on dormant centrality, while it asserts within the self-imposed square, a spiraling quality of asymmetry.



“One who is unable to determine the object from nature of material or unable to represent equally well on single surface with all different facets of objects tends to select one facet in effect of light and rest in shades.”

Whiteness allows a stark contrast of light & shadow, solid & void, it heightens the purity of visual form.

Engaging quotational elements, layered façades, conceptual homage to the design programme of whites, but slowly mutating the cubist & purist syntax by the influence of pop.

It refers to the syntactic model of interrelation without external reference. It has a dialectic relation between writing (transformation) and reading (implicit and explicit relation).

It represents a radical confession of faith in an autonomous architecture, which entirely frees itself from criteria of habitability.

“The truth to object of nature seems apparent on the sphere of reason that departed from object of speculative science who endeavored to regulate the actions of thought”




Nature is defined as a direct component of living; the House is viewed as a retreat, isolated fragments of light that illustrates the whole of nature. Architecture of domesticated nature through concrete walls offers unexpected architectural challenges. The decisive factor now becomes topography, wind direction, position of the sun and expectation as regards spatial programme.

Architecture must be “a counterpoint to nature, a dialogue with nature.” Architecture can pay tribute to nature is by confrontation, by creating a new equilibrium.


Descartes, /Rene’. “The Principle of Philosophy”. Port 2. The Philosophic works ofDescartes.

Lefebvre Henry. “Introduction to Modernity” London:

Verso, 1995

Scruton, Roger. “The Aesthetics of Architecture”. London: Metheun 1979.

Illustration Credits:

Images based on works of various authors.