Understanding Architecture as Inessential

Carolyn Fahey


The new Wittgensteinian reading is one characterised by its being inessential as
it does not commit to any absolute notion. According to such a reading, our
current method of defining architecture as "architecture" stands in direct
conflict, as it is inherently essentialist in its very conception. To understand
architecture as inessential is to re-conceive the notion 'architecture' allowing
for multiple conflicting conceptions to co-exist simultaneously. Whilst a
definition of architecture that defies entirely the conventional means is
seemingly impossible, a description of what this image of architecture(s) may
alternatively appear as is indeed possible. Understanding architecture as
inessential effectively means accepting that an ‘essence’ is no more than an
ideal notion. In reverting to the everyday rules and reasons of an architecture
practice as giving knowledge for what architecture is, we are able to conceive
of a multiplicity of architectures without in anyway conflicting, contradicting
or compromising our individual knowledge and experience of our individual unique
conceptions of architecture. Transgressing these boundaries, I argue, is


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; architecture; anti-essentialism; culture; building

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