Architecture and Contingency

Author: Jeremy Till

  • Architecture and Contingency


    Architecture and Contingency



The paper makes the argument that architecture is through and through a contingent discipline, but that architects have to a large extent attempted to deny this contingency through a retreat to notions of order, beauty and cleanliness. This stance can be traced from the first principles of Vitruvius, with his simplistic, but pervasive call for coherence, through to Le Corbusier, with his cry for architecture to be rid of contingent presences. Using the arguments of Zygmunt Bauman, it becomes clear that this rejection of contingency is not a trait of architecture alone, but of modernity as a whole. From this it is clear that the denial of contingency is not simply an issue of aesthetics and visual order, but a much wider one of social control and cultural cleansing. Whilst architects might acknowledge the former, they are less good at dealing with the latter. The paper consciously mixes the high with the low in its sources and style, in a very partial prompt that architecture needs to open up to such transgressions. It is, as a reviewer of the paper rightly said, a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

How to Cite:

Till, J., (2007) “Architecture and Contingency”, field 1(1), 120–135.

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Published on
01 Sep 2007
Peer Reviewed