Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Salingaros supports Alexander’s tying religion to geometry

Nikos Salingaros
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nikos A. Salingaros (born in Perth, Australia) is a mathematician and polymath known for his work on urban theory, architectural theory, complexity theory, and design philosophy. He has been a close collaborator of the architect and computer software pioneer Christopher Alexander, with whom Salingaros shares a harsh critical analysis of conventional modern architecture. Like Alexander, Salingaros has proposed an alternative theoretical approach to architecture and urbanism that is more adaptive to human needs and aspirations, and that combines rigorous scientific analysis with deep intuitive experience.

Influence [edit] Architecture
Salingaros has had a significant theoretical influence on several major figures in architecture. Christopher Alexander, author of the seminal treatises A Pattern Language and Notes on the Synthesis of Form, describes Salingaros' influence: “In my view, the second person who began to explore the deep connection between science and architecture was Nikos Salingaros, one of the four Katarxis editors. He had been working with me helping me edit material in The Nature of Order, for years, and at some point -- in the mid-nineties I think -- began writing papers looking at architectural problems in a scientific way. Then by the second half of the nineties he began making important contributions to the building of this bridge, and to scientific explorations in architecture which constituted a bridge.” [5]

Prince Charles, an influential critic of contemporary architecture, expressed Salingaros' influence in his own preface to Salingaros’ A Theory of Architecture: “Surely no voice is more thought-provoking than that of this intriguing, perhaps historically important, new thinker?” [6]

The End of Tall Buildings (2001), co-authored with James Kunstler, [7] argued that the age of skyscrapers is at an end, and that 9/11 marks the beginning of the end of modernist typologies dominating urban form. While the world has not stopped building skyscrapers, this became one of the most cited and controversial essays on the topic. Referring to this essay, Benjamin Forgey of The Washington Post said: “What many are feeling today goes right to the marrow: the fear of being a target. And who today can deny that tall buildings such as the World Trade Center towers make ideal targets?” [8] [edit]

Salingaros contributed to the New Athens Charter of 2003, which is meant to replace the original 1933 Athens Charter written principally by the highly influential modernist architect-planner Le Corbusier. That blueprint segregated urban functions and contributed to generating post-war urban typologies such as monoculture and sprawl. Through this and other writings Salingaros sought to retrofit suburbia, and reconnect US and European cities at the human scale. This work can be seen as allied with the New Urbanism movement to replace sprawling development with compact, walkable cities and towns.

Salingaros has been a harsh critic of deconstructivism in architecture, and its uncritial application of the philosophy of post-structuralism. His essay “The Derrida Virus” [15] argues that the ideas of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, applied in an uncritical way, effectively form an information "virus" that dismantles logical thought and knowledge. Salingaros employs the meme model earlier introduced by Richard Dawkins to explain the transmission of ideas. In so doing he provides a model that validates earlier claims by philosopher Richard Wolin that Derrida’s philosophy is logically nihilistic.

Even though Salingaros uses Dawkins’ ideas, he nevertheless strongly disagrees with Dawkins’ evaluation of religion as just another meme, as expounded in Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. Supporting Alexander’s most recent work tying religion to geometry, Salingaros argues for the important historic contribution of religious tradition to human understanding, both in architecture and in philosophy.

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