Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Primitivism and architectural theory

Subproject of "The quest for the legitimacy of architecture in Europe (1750-1850)".

2010 - 2015
NWO Vidi NWO Vidi

Architectural theory identifies the birth of architecture with the emergence of civilisation, thus providing a justification of architecture’s existence and importance. Conversely, since antiquity general accounts of the origins of civilisation often include architecture. If the first two research projects analyse how alternate views of the origins of architecture affect design theory, the third examines the impact of changing views about the origin of civilisation on architectural theory, and particularly the emergence of primitivism.

This problem has not yet been studied in detail, even if the period under consideration sees the emergence of primitivism in many branches of the humanities; various fields employ primitivism in order to explain the role and position of their object in society; and architectural theory has systematically situated its origins in a primitive society. 

The project will therefore: 

1. Examine views on the role and place of architecture and its origin in primitivist debates as they developed over the period 1750-1850. 
2. Examine primitivist elements in architectural discourse of the same period. 
3. Analyse the role of primitivism in the claim that through their design, buildings acquire meanings that are cultural in the widest sense of the word. 

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