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On the typology of architecture <...,.J


Giulio Carlo Argan
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Translated by Joseph Rykwert explain, ltl generation, the way In which a 'type' la the first category are centrany or longltudlnally hlstorlcer' 'model•' (for lnitance, the temple of the
Thnl anicl• :app-.rN flrsc in a volume of eua)'I (edited by Klirf . formed. It I• nevet formulated • pr/orl but always planned buildings; of the second, flat or domed Sybil at Tivoli), and ao appears to clalm.fpr .Itself
Oeuin1•r and Mohammed Rusem) off•Ad to Prof'euor Hans
h
�tr:-s':cki/�:t rc•�!��':t"!t:��:.���� :1�;p�=�
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i•ct which·is cencnil to sp«:ulation about archit«tural theory both
· cioduced·from a series of lnstancea, So the 'type' of
• circular temple.la never Identifiable with this or
roofs, travlated or arcuated ayatems; and of the
third, orders of columns, ornamental details, etc.
the'fllittii of�oth model and 'type'. Indeed it seem,
characteristic of Bramantesque classicism to aspl11
in this country and in AnMria-but to do 10 from a rather ·· that.circular temple (even If one deflnlte building, In Now, It la clear that a clasalftcatlon so constituted to a ayncretlc union of !deal antiquity (which Is
unfamiliar standpoint and so contribute a new element to current
dhcusaion. JR thla case the Pantheon, may have had and continues follows the succession of the architect'• working essentially 'typical') and of historical antiquity whlct,
Most modern critics who depend ultimately on some -lc(f,ave a particular Importance) but ls always the process (plan, structural system, surface treatment) has a status of a formal model. An instance of a
form of Idealistic philosophy would deny that an result of the confrontation and fusion of all circular and that It ls Intended to provide a typological diametrically opposed attitude Is that of neo­
architectural typology could In any way be valid. femplas. The birth of a 'type' ls.therefore-dependent guide for the architect to follow In the procesa of classical architects who assume classical architec­
They are right In so far as It would be absurd to on the existence of a aeries of bulldlnga having conceiving a building. So that the worldng out of tural typology. not classlcal architectures,. as a modal;
maintain that the formal value of a circular temple between them an obvious formal and functional every architectural project has this typological so that the movement produces works which are

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is increased as it approaches an Ideal 'type' of · analqgy. In other words, when a 'type' la determined aspect; whether It ls that the architect consciously merely three-dimensional transcriptions of 'types',
circular temple. Such an Ideal 'type' Is on!Y an ,.In the practice or theory of arcbltecture, It already follows the 'type' or wants to depart from It; or even If the concept of typology could In aome ,way be
abstraction; so It is Inconceivable that an archltec• · has an existence as an answar to a complex of In the sense that every building It an attempt to brought back to that of 'techtonlcs' as recently
tural 'type" could be proposed as a standard by which Ideological, rellglou1t or pr11ct1cel demando which produce another 'type'. deflned by c,sare Brandi (Eliante ode/la -11/telbna,
the individual work of art could be valued. On the arl1p In a given historical condition of whatever But If the 'type' la a achema or grid and the schema 11156), one might say that typology Is a notional balO
other hand It cannot be denied that architectural . cultjire. lnevttably embodies a moment of rigidity or Inertia, on which formal developmont of the arllst must
typologies have been formulated and passed down the presence of such a schema needs to be explained Inevitably rest.
in theoretical treatises and the work of famous In ti\s proces• of comparing and superimposing
lndltklusl forms so as to determine the 'type', In the context of an artist's creative proce1s. This It will, therefore, be clear that the position of the
architects. It Is therefore legitimate to postulate the leads one back naturally to the general problem of
particular characteristics of each Individual building artist rls-+rls history has two aspects, the aspect al
questlon'of typology as a function both of the the relation between artistic creation and hlstorlcal
are eliminated and only those remain which are typology and that of formal definition. That of
hlstorlcai process of architecture and also of the experience, since It ls from historlcal experience
common to every unit of the series. The 'type' typology la not problematic: the artist assumes
thinking and working processes of Individual that the 'type' ls always deduced. What requires
therefore, I• formed through a proceos of roduclng a certain data, ta!<lng as a premise of all his work a
architecfs. further explanatlon, however, la the proposition that
complex of formal variants to a common root form. group of common notions, or a heritage of Images.
There Iii an obvious analogy between architectural at least a part of that historical experience presents
If the 'typo' 11 produced through auch a "prOC<tH of with all their more or less explicit content and their
typology and Iconography: typology may not be a Itself to an architect who ls designing a building In
regro11lon, the root form whi_c:h la then found Ideological overtones. Thia aspect may be compered
determining factor of the creative process, but It ls the form of a typological grid. The 'type', so
cannot be taken as an analogue to something ae to the iconographic and compositional tr-ent of
always In evidence much as Iconography ls In Quatremire de Quincy has said, I• an 'object' but
neutral as a structural grid. It has to be understood themes In figurative art. The aspect of formal·
figurative arts, though its presence la not always 'vague or indistinct'; it la not definite form but a
as the Interior structure of a form or as a principle definition, on the other hand, Implies a reference to
obvious. How does an architectural 'type' appear?' schema or the outline of a form; It also carries a
which contains the po■slbllity of Infinite formal definite formal values of the pH! on which the artist
Those critics who would admit that 'typea' have a residue of the experience of form• already accom­
· variation and further structural modlflcatlon of the expllcltly arrives at a Judgment. This Judgment,
certain Importance are those who explain architec­ pllahed In projects or bulldlngs, but all that makes
' 'type' Itself. It la not, In fact, neceaaary to demon• however, must Itself Imply a typology since, when­
tural forms In relation to a symbolism or to a ritual for their specific formal and artlotlc value lo dlocarded.
strate that If the final form of a building ls a variant ever a velue judgment on given works of art la
pattern connected with them. This kind of crltlclom More precisely In the 'type' they are d1prlved of
of a 'type' deduced from • preceding formal 11rle1, passed, a judgment must also be passed about the
has not resolved (and cannot resolve) a crucial their character and of their true quality aa forms; by
the addition of another variant to the aeries will way In which the artist, In creating them, had .dealt
problO/!I: does symbolic content exist "'ore the sublimation Into a 'type' they assumo tho Indefinite
neceaNrlly determine a more or lesa consldorablo with the relevant typologlcal scheme.
creation of the 'type' and detennlne It-or ·1 s It Just a value of an Image or a sign. Through this reduction
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subsequent deduction? This question of precedence • :change of the whole 'type',

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The question of the value of architectural typology
of preceding worka of art to a 'type', tho artist frees
ls, however, not decisive where It Is considered In · T- salient facts ahow that the formative process of has recently been examined by Sergio Bettini
himself from being conditioned by a definite hlstorlcal
the context of an historical procesa; when symbolic · a iypology la not Just a classifying or statlstlcal form, and neutralizes the past. He a11umes that
(Zodiac, No. 5) and by G. K. K6nig (Lezlonl de/
content precedes the 'type' and determines It, J1Q Pl"OC"S but one carried out for definite formal ends. Corso di Plasllca; Editrlce Unlversitarla, Aorence,
what ls past ls absolute and therefore no longer
content Is �nly transmitted In connec6on with certain Flrstty: typological series do not arise only In 1961). In these writings the opinion prevails that an
capable of developing. Accepting Quatremtre de
archltectuml forms; In the same way when the Nldon to the physical function• of buildings but are architectural 'type' must be treated as a schema of
Quincy's deflnltlon, one might say that the 'type'
rever-98 happens, the succession of forms transmits ,· tied .to their configuration. The fundamental 'type' of spatial articulation which has been formed In
arlsea at the moment at which the art of the pest no
the symbolic content in a more or less conacloua tho drcular ahrlne for Instance, la lndopondont of response to a totality of practical and ideological
longer appears to a worldng artist aa a conditioning
maoner. T.here are cases in which symbolic content demands. From this one might deduce that the formal

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tho functions, sometimes complex, which ouch model.
is 11ought for consciously as a link to an ancient buildings muat fulfil, It was only In the oecond half invention which overcomes the 'type' ls a response
formal tra�ltlon; such a procedure may become an The choice of a model Implies a value Judgment: a to Immediate demands In reference to which the
of the nineteenth century that an -mpt waa made
impv,�,nt consideration by virtue of Its historical recognition that a certain definite work of art la 'type' had lost any real value. A recourse to the
to ,et up a typology based on the order of physical
and m�.netlc function. Two test cases of a conscious · perfect and has to be Imitated. When such a work 'type' would therefore occur when the Immediate
function, (lyplcal plans for hospitals, hotels, schools,
linking of architectural form with ldeologlcel content of art re-assum,! the schematic and Indistinct demand which the artist ls called to answer has its
banks, etc.) which, however, h11 not produced any
are those of the symbolism of centralized religlous nature of a 'type', the Individual action of the artist roots In the pasL A algnlflcant Instance ls provided
Important formal reaults. Historical 'types', ouch as
building of the Renaissance studied by Wlttkowar; ls no longer bound to a velue Judgment; the 'type' by the comparison between modem religious and
and that of a Baroque architectural allegory studied
centrally planned or longltudlnal templaa, or thoH
Is accepted but not 'imitated' which mean• that the Industrial architecture. Industrial architecture which �ti"
....s:
resulting from a combination of the two plans, are
repetition of the 'type' excludes the operation of deals with altogether new demands has created

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by Sedlmayr, not Intended to satisfy contingent, practical require­
Quatremlire de Quincy gives a precise definition of that kind of creative process which ls known as new 'typea' which have, In many ca1es, great
ment■; they are meant to deal with more profound
an architectural 'type' in his historical dictionary. mimesis. In fa� the acceptance of the 'type' Importance for the later development of architecture.
pi'oblems which-at least within the limits of any
The. word 'type', he says, does not present so ·much Implies the suspension of historical judgment and Rellgioua architecture which answers demands
given 1<1clety-are thought fundamental and constant; la therefore negative; although also 'Intentioned',
an Image of something to be copied or Imitated It 11, therefore, eaaentlal to lay claim to all the rooted In the past has resulted In typological repeti­
exactly as the idea of an element which should Itself directed to the formulatlon of a new kind of value In tion (artistically valueleos) or In attempts at freeing
experience matured In the past In order to be able
serve as a rule for the model ••• 'the model under• as much as It demands of the artist-In 111 very the artist of all typological precedent (as, for Instance.
to conceive forms In such a way that they will
negativity-a new formal determination.
stood as part of the practical execution of art ls an
object which should be Imitated for what It Is; the
continue to be thought valld In the future. However ·
much a 'type' may allow of variation, the Ideological It ls true that the aasumptlon of a 'type' as a starting
Le Corbusler at Ronchamp). These have led to the·
proposing of counter-types, mostly ephemeral or �
"type" on the other hand ls something In relation to content of forma haa a constant base, though this point for the architect's working proce11 does not unacceptable-there are few Instances of modern
whl�h different people may conceit• works of art ma,-..lndeed ehould-essume a particular accent or exhaust his involvement with historical data: It does developments of historical 'types'.
having no obvious resemblance to each other. All ls character at any particular time. Secondly, although not stop him from aHumlng or rejecting definite The conclusion must be that the typological and
exiict and defined In th.e model; In the ''type" every• ·an-Infinite number of classes and sub-claHes of buildings as models. the Inventive aspect of the creative process ire
thing Is more or less vague. The Imitation of "types" continuous and Interlaced-the Inventive aspect
· 'in,ei' may be formulated,_ formal architectural Bramante'• tempietto of Sa� Plotro In Montorlo la a
therefore has nothing about It which defies the typologlH will always fall Into three main categorlea; classic lnotance of auch a proc111; It obvloualy being merely that of dsallng with the domsnd• of·
operation of sentiment and intelligence••• .' · tht first concerned with a complete configuration of depends on a 'type': the perlpteral etrculartemplo tho actual hl1torlcaJ altuatlon ,by criticizing· and
The notion of the vagueness or generality of the bulldlriga, .the second with major structural element, described by Vitruvlua (Book IV, Chapter 8) which overcoming putlcillltlona depo1lted and synthe-
'type'-whlch cannot therefore direc6y affect the and.th• third with decorative element,. Examples of Integrates the abstraction of the 'type' through 1lzed schematically :In th•. 'type'.,
design of buildings or their formal quality, also