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Wolfflin, From A To A Psychology Of Architecture





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as it is easy to understand . a point of view. is to represent the characteristics of the age. and no more upward to the romantic tower-realm of the jackdaw nester. Our living direction is likewise subject to horizontal laws. just as literature is called upon to express the spirirual image of life in its particulars. [ . which incidentally spends large sums on building. The great modern buildings that fully bear the stamp of our age are groupings of buildings. ) Not only in art but also in politics. This also particularly conditions the floor plans of our public buildings. just as in the past it was monarchical. in practical efforts. it fixes its goal in a straightline way . 74 "PROLEGOMENA TO A PSYCHOLOGY OF ARCHITECTURE" . in scientific research . living architect and a true son of his time will also find today that it is a joy to build. Form. just as literature has long since done. aristocratic. The task here is specifically to write the outline for a psychology of architecture. monumental housing. The task of architecrure. . Harry Francis Mallgrave and EleftheriOllkonamau. in society.a multi-articulated. in Empathy. or to answer the question with which he opens the dissertation .and this must above all define the spatial-symbolic art of building in its composition. The straightforward element that brings the needs of the present into our building practices will on the other hand be offset by the size of the projects. Their principle is spatial articulation. Architecrure must once again understand how to fall in with the so-called "materialist" age. it has."How is it possible that architectural forms are able to express an emotion or a mood?" Wolfflin was keen to eliminate kinetic or excerpt B Heinrich Wolfflin. and Space: Problems of German Aesthencs 1873-1893. 182-3. from "Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur" (1886). CA: Getty Publication Prograrrn. we ask for a perspective. and a creative architectural talent will understand how to master this marter-of-facmess with an energetic composition and a meaningful layout . This also completely defines the design of the new building types. *** No! We no longer live in the age of tower building. following its changing and moving multiplicity. to design the artistic image of space. like literature. and religious. it is gauged. 45 HEINRICH WOlFFllN from "Prolegomena to a Psychology of Architecture" (1886) uilding fast upon the psychological aesthetics of Robert Vischer and Conrad Fiedler was this doctoral dissertation of Heinrich Wolfflin. Multiple functions need also . pp.. The architecrure of the present is social. in general. to the powerfully emphasized rhythm of the masses .everywhere we ask more of an outlook than an outlook.Whoever is a complete. trans. Our entire modern direction necessarily leads to the visual perspective. 151. clear arrangement. to the extent that they have already developed or at least been prepared. 1994. and integrating unity once that arrangement has been clearly and forcefully expressed. Santa Monica.

in fact. we must say: Physical forms possess a character only because we ourselves possess a body. we have collapsed to the ground when we no longer had the strength to resist the downward pull of our own bodies. Taking the analogy of musical form.physiological explanations. We have carried loads and experienced pressure and counterpressure. regularity. Historical determinism becomes. This principle may be extended still further: any architectural style reflects the attitude and movement of people in the period concerned. we could never understand the meaning of sounds produced by others. and it is not difficult to show that architecture corresponds to the costume of its period. Wiilfflin essentially transposes Hegel's philosophical idea into a psychological guise. one of the central premises of the German Modern Movement in the first part of the twentieth century. Yet toward the end of his dissertation (see the second excerpt). How people like to move and carry themselves is expressed above all in their costume. contraction. If we were purely visual beings. we would always be denied an aesthetic judgment of the physical world. Although architects such as Henry van de Velde and August Endell would later be attracted to Wolfflin's theory.. So here. leads Wolfflin into difficulties. We understand only what we ourselves can do. reflected a more general Scholastic outlook that stressed precise (pointed) concepts. and that is why we can appreciate the noble serenity of a column and understand the tendency of all maner to spread out formlessly on the ground. Semper called it lapidary scholasticism. But as human beings with a body that teaches us the nature of gravity. too. This became the basis of Wiilfflin's famous methodology of artistic "formalism.. strength. In essence. Lubke saw it as the expression of spiritualism. thus allowing the notion of historical destiny once again to be reclaimed. The Gothic style. ] We have seen how the general human condition sets the standard for architecture. If we did not have the ability to express our own emotions in sounds. we gather the experience that enables us to identify with the conditions of other forms. I would like to emphasize this principle of historical characterization all the more energetically because I am unable here to pursue the idea in any detail. Why is no one surprised that the stone falls toward the earth? Why does that seem so very natural to us? We cannot account for it rationally: the explanation lies in our personal experience alone. The Gothic style will serve as an example. and so on. Germanic architectural theory since Semper had largely been in open revolt against the Hegelian idea that styles operate in fixed cycles determined by the intellectual development of a culture. According to what principles has it been judged? The tertium comparationis is not exactly "PROLEGOMENA TO A PSYCHOLOGY OF ARCHITECTURE" 75 ." which dominoted art history throughout the early part of the twentieth century. for instance. and numerical proportions. he follows the lead of Gottfried Semper in arguing that architectural styles follow very directly from the "attitude and movement of people" of a given period. they would also seek to construct an empathetic theory of architectural form outside of these classical parameters. But such formalism also carries with it an important architectural implication. He prefers to base his psychological answer entirely on the notion of "empathy." and thus turns (as the first shows) to a recent theory of musical form to explain how and why we respond to architectural forms in the way we do. [ . and in the end his analysis of architecture becomes quite conventional (classical) in that he goes on to find pleasing architectural forms in such attributes as symmetry. Wolfflin seeks a breakthrough in another regard: by transposing his empathetic psychology of form (discerned by an individual) into a collective psychology of form (the formal attitude of a culture). however.

1994. its concepts are formulated with the greatest precision. as it were. This little known theoris1 and architect taught at the Stu"gart Polytechnikum in the early 1880s. 198. but this upward impulse finds a clear expression only in the pointed arch. that is. even though there may be a grain of rruth in both descriptions. Goller chooses to disregard entirely the his10rical and symbolic Adolf Goller. ation. no definite will can be recognized. The mental fact in question is the tendency to be precise. sharp. Form. the forehead assumes hard vertical folds. Harry Francis Mollgrove and Eleftherios Ikonomou. from "Was is die llrsxhe . each generation is reared with a collective image of the architectural forms with which it is familiar. all restful expansiveness disappears. in &npathy. Taking his model one s1ep further. and over time these forms and proportions become jaded. pp. Scholasticism and spirirualism can be considered the expression of the Gothic period only if one keeps in mind this intermediate stage.. and conscious of the will. for ins1ance. the passing of the high Renaissance into mannerism). His application of perceptual theories to architecture here yields some very dramatic results. 194-5. and a will that is everywhere most decisively expressed. the whole body stiffens and pulls itself together. Sonto Monico. n (1887). ond Spoce: Problems of Germon Aesthetics /873--1893. 76 "WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF PERPETUAL STYlE CHANGE IN ARCHITECTURE?" ." In essence. 46 ADO l FG E 0II R from "What is the Cause of Perpetual Style Change in Architecture?" (1887) V ery much in line with the psychological formalism of Wolfflin is this exceptionally important tract by Adolf Goller. Here we find the Gothic forms presented in principle: the bridge of the nose becomes narrower. no relax­ . CA: Gaily Publication Programs. Physically this aspiration presents itself in precise movements. We will find firm ground only by referring these psychological observations to the human figure . Irons. What does roundness want? Nobody knows.clear. and a new style is created with a new memory image. where he became much cttrccted to the psychological models put forth by Hermann Helmholtz and Wilhelm Wundl. And the same is true with the Romanesque rounded arch. nothing bloated . It ascends. Thus over a period of time a style becomes used up. It is well known that many people (especially university lecturers) like the feeling of rolling a sharply angled pencil between their fingers in order to sharpen their thoughts. The sophisticated subtlety of the scholastic centuries and the spirirualism that tolerated no matter divested of will can have shaped architecrural form only through their bodily expression.. His thesis revolves around two concepts: the cultivation of a cultural "memory image" and the baneful effect of psychological "jading. pointed forms. during which a psychological feeling is directly rransformed into bodily form. A round pencil would not serve the same purpose. Scholasticism clearly reveals this aversion to anything that is imprecise. architects tire of using the same forms and begin to pursue proportional deviations (explaining.