Werner Oechslin (April 15, 1987)

Andrew Zago introduces Werner Oechslin.

Andrew Zago introduces Werner Oechslin.
Oechslin discusses the recent lecture by Peter Cook, observing that even when the architectural strategy seems to be spontaneous, there are deeper methods at work.
He proposes to discusses the impact of the rediscovery of Vitruvius’s Ten Books on Architecture (De architectura) in terms of three categories of change: autonomy, institutions, and signs.
Oechslin discusses the idea of the primitive hut and the relationship between language and architecture. He maintains that architecture progresses from necessity, to usefulness to aesthetics.
He discusses mathematics as a communication device. Oechslin discusses the geometric foundations of typography and their relationship to architecture. He comments on the role of architectural drawing, using Vitruvius and Palladio as examples of looking at drawing scientifically.
Oechslin discusses Le Corbsier’s engagement with classical architecture, linking the Modulor with the Vitruvian Man, and The Five Points of Architecture with longstanding connections between geometry and aesthetics. He argues that Le Corbusier’s view of the plan, elevation and section as what drives the project, as continuations of a tradition that goes back to Vitruvius.

Oechslin continues his lecture, discussing the primitive hut and its role in the origins of architecture. He speaks about the establishment of language in human culture and the relationship to architecture. Oechslin claims that architecture progresses from necessity, to usefulness to aesthetics. He goes on to comment on a story recounted by Vitruvius about the Greek philosopher Aristippus in which the capacities of human beings are identified, including an understanding of geometry. He continues to discuss the drawings of Vitruvius and the role of abstract mathematics as a communication device.

Oechslin speaks about he geometric construction of typography and the relationship to the production or architecture. Each are figures which can be discussed as two, three or four dimensional. He goes on to discuss tools and the importance of the sophistication of those tools in producing architecture. Oechslin comments on the role of architectural drawing, using Vitruvius and Palladio as examples of looking at drawing scientifically. He explains the different phrases in both Greek and Roman for artistic versus architectural drawings and comments on Vitruvius’ interest in connecting the term drawing with term idea.

Oechslin discusses Le Corbsier’s engagement with classical architecture, mentioning connection between The Modulor and Vitruvian Man. He speaks about The Five Points and Le Corbusier’s role in recognizing a connection between geometry and aesthetics. Oechslin explains Le Corbusier’s adherence to the Vitruvian tradition of plan and elevation and section as the project drivers and goes on to discuss the definition of figure through Euclidean geometry. He suggest that objects can be presented by reducing their meaning to that of their geometry or figure.

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