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Premises for the Resumption of the Discussion of Typology

Author(s): Werner Oechslin


Source: Assemblage, No. 1 (Oct., 1986), pp. 36-53
Published by: The MIT Press
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Werner

Oechslin

Premises

for

the

Resumption of the
Discussion of Typology

at the
WernerOechslinis Professor
InstitutforGeschichteund Theorieder
Architektur,
ETH, Zurich,and an editor
of Daidalos (Berlin).

The discussion of typology was at the front ranksin architectural circles in the 1960s and early 1970s, but has lately
fallen back to the second eschelon. The "post-modern"
now takes all the headlines instead. But this shift in
current events is not at all a matter of replacement. The
increasing r6clame in architecture,on the contrary,has
tended to favor superficialmethods of study, methods for
the most part oriented towardthe outer appearance,the
superficialimage of architecture.The discussion of architecture at present suffersespecially from these ills, and as a
result a deeper understandingof typology is hardlythinkable. What survivesof such an understandingoutside of a
restrictedcircle of initiates seems to have long since been
reduced to a trivial conception of typology. The misunderstanding stubbornlyendures that typology is a matter of
classifyingforms and functions as simply and unequivocally as possible. This banalized understandingof a conception so rich in traditionand so importantin intellectual
history joins forces with what is furtheredand practicedas
"economic functionalism." Standardizationand typification
have long since occurred in this sphere but not towardan
ideal reduction of the architecturaldesign processto its
universalfoundations, not even for the purpose of guaranteeing light and air, but ratherfor the sake of increasing
productivity.As we know, this economic functionalism has
led neither to more dwelling space nor to a more livable
environment and, even more than in other partsof the
field, it has been oriented towardthe no longer profoundly
examined laws of production (and of the producers).
37

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EXXX5AES

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Frontispiece:J.-N.-L.Durand,
ensemble d'6difices resultants
des divisions du quarrO,du
paralilbogramme,et de leurs
combinaisons avec le cercle.

FromPrcis des
lemonsA
d'architecture
donn6es
I'EcolePolytechnique,
vol. 1
(Paris,1802).

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assemblage 1

ru.lrdr
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1. J.-N.-L.Durand, ensembles
d'edifices resultants de diverses
combinaisons horizontales et
verticales
le carre divise
d'apres
en deux, en
trois, en quatre.
FromPrecisdes leqons, in the
editions of 1813 and following.

:44
.

...............

.....

T'hisalso indicates how explosive the discussion of typology


is in its possible, and in part alreadyhistoricallyproven,
consequences. It is also clear how greata disserviceis done
by those architecturalcritics who allow this trivialunderstanding to persistundisturbed.One voice should be cited
here that has spoken out systematically,polemically, and
often scornfully against virtuallyevery tendency towardany
degree of profunditysince the moment renewed discussion
of "rationalism"began. It is representativeof those "misunderstandings"that come of rejectinga deeper analysis.
Bruno Zevi makes the inexcusable mistakeof basing his
evaluation of the concept of typologyon that purely diagnostic and trivial form of types determinedentirely by
function. Instead of correctingsuch a one-sided and inappropriateuse of the concept of typology, he questions the
usefulness of the concept itself. On the basis of these functionally based uses of the concept, he decides that it is
unsatisfactory.What is then proposedin opposition to the
possibilityof such theoretical models forgoesany and all
reflection on the relationshipbetween artisticindividuality
and artisticconvention - a matter which has kept the
discussion of the theory of art in suspense for centuries.
Instead, one reads in Zecvistatementsdeliveredwith an unsurpassablearrogance,such as: art is anti-typological;every
architecturalcreation is necessarilyan individual interpretation by the artist;individual style is more decisive in the
shaping of a work of art than the type. It is as if he wanted
to overlook the impact of the Palladianvilla or of Schinkel's Old Museum!
Meanwhile, art history- with respect to the problematic
of typology, especially in the work of A.-C. Quatremdre
de Quincy
has attemptedto bring the phenomenon of
the uniqueness of the forms and inventions presentedby
artisticworksinto harmony with the equally undeniable
circumstance of establishedconventions, general lines of
evolutionarydevelopment, and recurringbackgroundconditions. The difficulty with handling the concept of typology is no doubt coupled with a certain intellectual demand
that is too often rejected in the discussion of architecture
today, with a gesture towardthe great number of concrete
problems that need to be treated. A minimum of thinking
effort in fact continues to be a requirement.
38

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Oechslin

2. Modular/geometricalgeneration of bodies according to


late-antique tradition: demonstration of single, bi- and tridimensional development,
from point to line to surface to
body. Distinction of the speculative and practical(physical)
aspects of the various mathematical definitions. FromJ.
Caramuelde Lobkowitz,Architectura civil recta y obliqua ...

(Vigevano, 1678).

All this is enoughto makeit clearthattheremustbe a


renewedconsideration
of architectural
typology,giventhe
and incorrectevaluationsof previous
misunderstandings
of
analyses.For indeedthe all-too-narrow
understanding
typeand typologyhas at timesproduceddisconcerting
results.Efficiencyin architecture,for example,naturally
wasplacedin the foregroundin the ThirdInternational
Conferencefor New Constructionin 1930;even though
SigfriedGiedion,who set this directionas a goal, also
accuratelypointedout that, for all of the elevationof the
problemof massproductionas the imperativeof the moment, the conceptionsof WalterGropiusand Le Corbusier
of
had been anticipatedin CharlesFourier'sPhalanstere
1822. In this samecontext,Gropiusnaturallydid not pose
as fundamenthe questionof rationalityor of "rationalism"
tal, but instead,workingconcretely,limitedthe ideasof
the rationalists
to the fieldof optics:"Whichbuilding
heightsare rationalfor municipalconstructionof mass
publichousing?"Of course(in an epochthathadlong
since takento usinghandbookswithwhichthe costsof
architectural
workscouldbe calculated),J.-N.-L. Durand
of architecture
and
had alreadymadethe interdependence
economicsa centraltheme, and in the processhad reand producducedthe relationship
betweenarchitecture
This
tion to an apparently
simplecommondenominator.
reductionhas addedstrengthto the growingtendencyto
understand
his Precisdes leqons(1802)as the manifesto
and the epitomyof a rigid,"typified,"
and."standardized"
conceptionof architecture.In addition,the historyof architecture,for its part,has gone withouta deeperdiscussion of typologyand has writteninstead'the"historyof
buildingprojects,"as even the mostrecentworkof Nikolas
Pevsnerstill demonstrates
sufficiently.Once again,the
phenomenathemselvestakethe foreground,drivingout
fundamentalthinking.
Nevertheless,in discussionsof typologyarchitects,particularlyin Italy,havetakenseriouslythe distinctionbetween
typeand model, for example,and an attempthasbeen
madeto bringtheorybackto the practiceof designin an
intelligentmanner.Distinctpositionshavebeen takenand
The
defendedand can be individuallycharacterized.
39

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assemblage 1

names of Aldo Rossi, Giorgio Grassi, and Carlo Aymonino


come to mind.

3. Drawing by Superstudio,
1968.

4. 0. M. Ungers, Welfare Island


Competition, New York, 1975.

T'he referencepoint for the Italian discussion of typology


has always been Quatremerede Quincy's article "Type,"'
which has since become famous. It was firstpublished in
1825 in the third volume of the Encyclopediemerthodique.
G. C. Argan deservesthe credit for taking up and disseminating this classic definition in his brief and concise article
"Sul concetto di tipologia architettonica"(1962).2 Of
course, a number of differentmisunderstandingswith their
respectiveconsequences can be traced back to Argan'sessay. These misunderstandingsconcern the fundamentalappraisalof the place and importanceof typology in regardto
design practice and methods, and the even more clouded
issue of the systematicvalue of the type and its importance
to the historical dimension of architecture.
Argan'sessay first appeared, in its original short form, in
the Festschriftfor Hans Sedlmayr. Since his Borromini
studies in the 1930s, Sedlmayr- even if workingfrom
completely differentpremises- had been close to the
problems of architecturaltypology, and was consideredin
the 1930s the chief proponent of the iconology of architecture. It is questionablewhether, or to what degree, Argan
wanted or was able to take into account the discussionsof
structuralismin Germany since the end of the 1920s.
There are no explicit references. Conjectures in the light
of the dedication to Sedlmayrremain unresolved. However, Argan does undoubtedly relate his effortsat interpretation to the specific state of the then current art historical
discussion of methods. With an eye towardItalian art history, Argan describeshis analysisas a contributionto the
criticism of idealism. He tries, on the other hand, to draw
a parallel with what was then the most up-to-dateand the
most discussed viewpoint in the discipline:the typologyof
architecture,he says, correspondsfor the most partwith
the iconologyof the pictorial and sculpturalarts. This explicit parallel places Argan'sessay in that series of works
(Krautheimer,Wittkower,Bandmann)concerned with a
specific iconology of architecture.The publication of the
essay in the Festschriftfor Sedlmayrcan be adequately
explained only in this light.
40

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Oechslin

Geometrical device and the definition of an architecturalgrammar.

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central emphasis of typology on the specific classification
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lead to a lapidaryhistory of "buildingprojects"is shown by
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of typology for design all but entirely disappear.Argan does
6. Detailed geometrical/
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in fact place the distinction between type and model, thormathematical representations
architecturalforms. FromV.
discussed in Quatremerede Quincy, at the center
oughly
of columns and bases. From
Scamozzi, L'idea della architetof
but the "art-historical"
his
deliberations,
premise appartura universale (Venice, 1615;
Scamozzi, L'idea della
German edition, 1678).
architettura universale.
ently keeps his point of view on the design processfrom
becoming any clearer. The removal of the type from the
artisticprocess of mimesis shows - though admittedlynot
as radicallyor as clearly as in Zevi - the rejection of the
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even though, more than any architectbefore him, he
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special attention to the doctrine of imitation. In his
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?~y?article on typology, however, Argan'seffortsto forge a link
with the doctrine of mimesis had to lead to confusions.
8. Detailed
7. Detailed
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geometrical/
mathematical representations
of architecturalorders. From
Scamozzi, L'idea della
architettura universale.

geometrical/mathematical representations of cornices. FromScamozzi, L'idea


della architettura universale.

Quatremerede Quincy's article is distinguished,as usual,


by analyticallyprecise wording and the systematicorganization of the arguments(concept definition, etymological
derivation, explanationof the history of the concept, discussion of word usage, and, only then, remarksspecific to
architecture).It is no accident that Quatremeirede Quincy
conceived of and planned his Encycloptdiem6thodique:
Architectureas a necessary,field-specificextension of the
great encyclopedia of Diderot and D'Alembert. In keeping
41

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assemblage 1

9. J.-N.-L.Durand, d6tails des


ordres en g6neral. Geometrical
description of cornices in the
usual tradition of Vignola editions such as Daviler.

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Geometry and its use in defining physiognomical types.

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10. Drawing by CharlesLebrun.

11. Drawing by Annibale


Carracci.

42

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Oechslin

with this more general context, the distinction between


type and model bears characteristicsfrom epistemologyand
from general systematicthought - which had been just as
well known and as much discussed in architecturalcircles,
mutatis mutandis, since the early days of Vitruvianismbetween Alberti and Barbaro.This is not the place to reach
that far back in history. Nevertheless, it can be said with
confidence that the definition of the concept of the "type"
in Quatrernmre
de Quincy is just as unthinkablewithout
the precedent of the classical philosophical question of
form and matter as the discussion of typologyaltogether
would be without the precedingeffortsto integrateEuclidean geometry into architecture.Simply rememberingthe
conceptual correspondencebetween type and figure(typos/
figura) should surely suggest much additionalthought.

12, 13. Examplesof the classification or the constituent


elements of the human
physiognomy. FromAlexander
Cozens, Principlesof Beauty
relative to the Human Head
(London, 1777-78).

14. Drawing by Friedrich


Weinbrenner.

15. Drawing by Friedrich


Weinbrenner.

By the same token, one also comes upon shortcomingsin


Quatrembrede Quincy's distinction between type and
model. T''ohis perhapsoverly abstractand for the present
too philosophicallyconceived definition of the type, one
can at least contrasta compromisedformula- yielded in
the context of defining architecturaldrawingas an extension of Vitruvianexegesis - in which the pure geometric
form requires"sensuous"mediation in visible lines (lignes
sensuelles). (Note the distinction between linea speculativa
and linea practica in the figure from Caramuel reproduced
here.) There is very probably,then, a possibilityof graphically representing"typologies"and of applyingand using
them indirectlyin design. Here Quatremrrede Quincy reveals his Platonic side! He was no doubt thoroughlyaware
of the schematics customarilyused at the time - halfabstract,symbolic formulas(almost in a plan de masse).
Apparently,he did not want to departfrom his main distinction to go into these "transitionalforms"in his article,
which was aimed at a systematicattack. To put it differde Quincy foregoesan analysis of
ently, that Quatremenre
the existing practicalequivalents of typologyof his day is
accounted for by the decidedly theoreticalorientationof
the Encyclopediemethodique.
In this light, Argan'sattempt to limit the distinction between type and model all too exclusively to architectonic
realities (which occurs predominantlyagainstthe previ43

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assemblage 1

ously mentioned backgroundof assigningfunction and


content) seems a two-fold obfuscation. Quatremerede
Quincy always kept the two viewpointsclearly separated.
And for just this reason, in a second part near the end of
his article (not sufficiently consideredby Argan), he took
up the discussion of contingency and conventionality,
through which the embedding of the type in historical reality and in a specific time inevitablyoccurs. If this second
part- which comes astonishinglyclose to a hermeneutical point of view - of Quatremerede Quincy's definition
had been sufficientlyheeded, the discussion of typology
could not have been posed against artisticindividuality
and against historicity,but would have had to have been
conceived of as a regulativeprinciple enmeshed in history
and context.
IF 1 R E N Z
_8

??-~

-i :

. .....---__

16-19. Geometrical figures and


the combination game. From
Metamorfosi del Giuoco detto
I'EnimmaChinese (Florence,

1818).

Now it is also true, however, that in Italiandiscussions of


typology, led chiefly by architects, such positions have
been workedout, in part independently.And as a result, it
is precisely in these discussions (specificallywithin the socalled rationalisttradition)that historyas a problemhas
been rediscovered,and in a much more clearly refined
way than postmodernismis able to manage, relying as it
does on a superficialconception of mimesis, as invoked by
Argan, or on mere imitation.

78

'.."'

....

For exactly this reason, it is appropriateand necessaryto


returnto Quatrembrede Quincy's discussion of typologyin
its full scope, even if this can not be done exhaustivelyin
this essay. A few remarkswill have to suffice to indicate
the long tradition, reaching far back into history, in which
the problem of typology arose. A clear exposition of the
problem, reduced to a simple denominator, is found in the
introductionto Henry Wotton's Elements of Architecture
of 1624. Wotton distinguishesthe "historical"from the
systematicor "logical"method or approach. Only the systematic way of proceeding makes it possible to isolate and
extractrules from the historical context in orderto form
them into a (design) method. Elsewherethis same use of
rules remains vague, for example in Palladio, at least in
the text of I quattro libri (1570)- not however in the
precise abstractionevident in 'the illustrations.Regole
universaliare foreseen here as a correctiveand as a
44

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Oechslin

point of orientation for the purpose of preventingerrors.


Yet even in the eighteenth century, Pere Andre, in one of
his best-knownaesthetic treatises,Essai sur le Beau (1759),
attemptedwith a correct evaluation of the role of geometry
to clarify preciselythe distinction between the firstinvariable rules and the second, historicallycontingent rules in
order to specify the gradualadjustmentof art to historyand
reality.
In this climate of distinctions and analyses, Quatremrnre
de Quincy finally, with full awarenessof the rich tradition
in art history, takes up his argument. This becomes even
more apparentas his other articles (on architecture,
character,convention) and furtherwritings, such as
Considerationsmoralessur la destination d'ouvragesde
l'art (1815), are included in the analysis. The more comprehensivelyQuatremerede Quincy argues, the clearer his
tendency to attackthe one-sidednessof a purely "historical"
and positivisticapproachto history. In this manner he criticizes the usual treatmentof mimesis. Startingfrom the the
fact that nothing exists without predecessors("I1faut un
antecadent a tout. .. ."), he turns againstliteral interpretations of imitation, aimed at the model and its repetition,
and against imitation based on its positivisticform: "Ils mdconnoissent tous les degres d'imitation morale, par analogie, par rapportsintellectuels, par applicationde princips,
par appropriationde manires, de combinaisons, de raisons, de systemes, etc." What are required, then, are fundamental, systematic, analogic, rational, and combinatory
kinds of processesin the context of the encounter with
history. And here it becomes clear that Quatremerede
Quincy argues from the position of one .who is aware of
the possibilityof misapplicationand trivializationin handling this fundamental problem in architecture,and who
realizes he has been confrontedwith such misuse. The
problemof appropriateusage thus overshadows,at least
partly,the systematic intention with which Quatremerede
Quincy discusses the concept of typology.
One is much closer now to that "extreme"example of contemporarytypological effort that, once more in a misleading way, has been touted as the "piece de resistance"of all
attemptsat formalization. Durand'stable "Ensemble
45

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assemblage 1

.....
......
-/--i

20-22. These diagrams substitute the more severe schematization of fig. 1 by choosing
figures derived from the
square, indicating their immediate transformation into
architecture.

?-----------?----E4

d'edificesresultantdes divisionsdu quarrd,du parallelogramme,et de leurscombinaisonsavec le cercle,"publishedin his Precisdes leqons,is commonlyseen as an
exampleof thatnarrowconceptionof typologythatturns
to the solidbasisof the universallanguageof geometryto
a manneras possibleto conapplyit in as unadulterated
cretearchitectonicobjectsthemselves.That Durandrelated
("pure")
directlyto the designprogeometricconfigurations
cessemergesclearlybothfromhis publishingthe tablein
the relevanttractof the Precisand also fromthe immediate
of geometricfigureand architectural
juxtaposition
typein
the secondeditionof the table(1813).
Yet a closerexaminationshowsthatDurandby no means
de
to Quatremere
represents
only a counterposition
of
discussion
of
the
"historical"
concept typology.
Quincy's
reduction
Not even Durandspeaksonly of a "geometrical
of architecture."
On the contrary,he is concernedwith
betweena conclarifyingthe relationshipin architecture
and
the
crete(historically)
generalform
existingtypology
basedon the universallawsof geometry.Whatresembles,
in the tableof 1802, a purely"Euclidean"
developmentof
a form,entirelyin the mainstreamof the attemptsat classificationthathad been extremelypopularsincethe eighteenthcentury,turnsout undercloserscrutinyto be a very
carefullydevelopedattemptto legitimizemorecomplexarchitectonicconfigurations.
Despitethe elementarynature
of the geometricfiguresshown,even in thesesimple
forms,one can makeout the architectonic
thoughtbehind
them. Durandrevealsthis himselfin the revised,1813version of the table,wheresimple("pure")
geometricfigures
and theirarchitectoniccorrelates,in the formof fully
developedtypes,are presentedtogetherin the same
illustration.
The reasonsfor Durand'sdecisionto takethis clarifying
in his time the relastepcan only be surmised.Apparently,
demandeda morecontivelyhigh degreeof abstraction
crete,but also moretrivial,clarification.For in contrastto
this secondillustration,one can see in the firstand more
abstractdiagramthe verygenesisin stagesof the architectonic/geometric
typologies.The old questionof findinga
fundamentalprinciple,or a radicallysystematiclayingof
46

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Oechslin

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assemblage 1

Durand'sreductive geometry as a reliable method of generating large-scale typologies whose "functional"definition


goes beyond any single "buildingtype," but embodies urban
"relevance."

23. J.-N.-L.Durand,formule
graphique applicable aux
edifices public vout6s: comparison of geometrical schemes
and possible adoption for
public structures.

24. J.-N.-L.Durand, marche6


suivre dans la composition d'un
projet quelconque: demonstration of method showing how
to generate building types
through a geometrical device.

25, 26. Durandianschemes of


differently developed geometrical complexity, on the way toward defining more complex
typologies.

48

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Oechslin

Sequence of "large typology" schemes as used in the tradition of academic architecturalculture in the second half of the
eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century.

foundations for architecturein the sense of Euclidean


geometry, is precisely considered in the process, as at the
same time the bow is strung for historywith its concrete
objects and actualizations.

27. Alessandro Rossini,pianta


del Tempio con Canonica
Collegio ed Ospedali, Accademia di San Luca,Rome, 1702.
An early example of complex
typological schemes proposed
for an academic competition.

28. G. P. M. Dumont, essai de


plan pour un chateau ou
grande maison de plaisance:
geometrical and typological
regularity and the pretext of
an architecturaltheme, 1775.

A brief descriptionof the original diagramwill be helpful


here. In nine vertical columns, basic geometric figuresand
their variantsare presentedwith an arrayof transformations
according to the criterion of analogy. The first four columns deal with the simple square, the squaredivided into
thirds, into fourths, and the square subdividedinto
doubled symmetry;the next two columns are for the horizontal and vertical rectangle;two more present the circle
and semicircle; while the last column takesa composite
figure (subdividedsquare with an inscribedsemicircle) as a
startingpoint. The variationsin the firstcolumn suggestan
ordered, that is, systematic, sequence accordingto pattern:
square;open square;square open on two sides;halved
square;twice-halved square;combined open and divided
figure;combined figure open on two sides and subdivided;
figure open on all sides and twice subdivided. This variation is not without a stringentlogic. Yet it is not carried
through in the other columns with the same clarity and
strictness.The reason for this is not so much inability
(Durand demonstrateshis systematicintentions quite adequately in the first column) as it is an early conformingto
possible, that is, reasonable, architecturaloutlines or their
geometrical abstractions,respectively.
This jumbling reveals itself entirely in the figuresfor
which the increases in complexity are attained in surprising
leaps ratherthan stepwise and systematically.The complication of geometric form runs from the.top left down to
the bottom right of the table. There the figuresare found
that both follow and anticipatetypical architectonicoutlines (predominantlyof the academic-wealthystamp)and
are immediately intelligible and verifiableas "architectonic." The graphic clarificationsmake this apparent.They
show, for example, that the basic floor plan or typological
definition of Durand's last geometricalfigure corresponds
to the design that Marie-JosephPeyre chose for his Academy project (made famous by its publication in Oeuvres
d'architecture),which constituted for Peyre the starting
point for a whole series of "analogous"projects.
49

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assemblage 1

The decisive point about this observationis that quite


probablyeven within his demonstrativefigure arguing on
"purelytypological"ground, and indirectlywithin the
bounds of his design methodology, Durand maintainsthe
connection with precise, historicallycontingent objects,
which was regardedas given at the time and thus placed
at his disposal, clearly in sight. On the other hand, the
design method was intended in fact to lead to concrete
results, which in their turn constitutedthe historyof
architecture.

29. D. L. Detant, Accademia di


San Luca, 1762.

30. SirJohn Soane, ground


plan of a design for senate
house, 1779.

An analogous, contrastingconsiderationmust also be


added to Durand'seffortsin the history of architecture.
Just as the Precisdes leqonswas intended to satisfythe
systematic requirementsof the designing architect, the
Recueil et paralldledes tous les Mdificesanciens et
modernesof 1800 was to make the historyof architecture
available to him. In keeping with his own systematicintentions - though this time with a differentorientationthan
in the Precis- Durand intended to workformallyon the
historical material as well. Furthermore,this had to be
done so that both comparabilityof forms and applicability
of concrete design work were alwaysguaranteedin the
process of reducing them to the essentials(that is, in representing typological diversity)as well as in the processof
standardizingboth measuresand means of graphic
representation.
In both undertakings- the systematicas well as the historical - Durand shows himself readyto compromise.
Neither is his systematic-geometricalapproachexclusively
abstract,nor does his history remain unsystematic.History
is not played off against systematics.Rather, the basic presuppositionsof dealing with systematicsand with history
are both considered in orderto meaningfully introducetypology, the "theoryof figures,"as an intermediatecourt of
appeal. The realization of this project, in accordancewith
the distinction between type and model tossed into the balance as a weighty argumentby Quatremerede Quincy,
remained at that time unfulfilled. And therefore- in the
light of these theoretical efforts, in other words, beforeputting them into practice- at the other end of the discussion of typology a good deal of autonomy was necessarily
granted. In any case, introducingtypologyto design prac50

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Oechslin

tice would not (as, for example, Zevi seems to do) replace
the creativityof the design process that would necessarily
follow, but ratherwould merely set out more demanding
conditions and premises. The self-evident interactionwith
these conditions has been lost to the architect in the new
mythos of the unbound desire for invention. (Even the
doctrine of mimesis had decisively limited this!) This myth
leaves the architect wholely at a loss, so that architectureis
then surrenderedever more completely to accidents and to
forces foreign to architectureitself.

31. Dionisio Santi, edificio alla


maniera degli antichi musei di
pitagorici italiani, 1806. From
Opere dei GrandiConcorsi
premiate dall'l. R. Accademia
delle Belle Arti in Milano
(Milan, 1824). Square structure
with two semicircularannexes,
internally resolved in a polygonal form, and annex of a
square structure with circle
inscribed.

In its appeal to general geometrical forms, Durand'sdiagram also shows that an identificationof architectonicfigures with functions and interpretationswas prematureat
the least, prior to the confrontation- to be sought from
within contemporarydesign itself - with fully developed
or developing traditions.The theory of charactercan set a
similar contextual condition. Quatremerede Quincy
expresslymentions that the type must receive its conventional application (emploilusagenaturel) accordingto
necessity (besoin)and natural constitution (nature). So
architecturedoes not come about by blind translationof
geometries. The circle of the argumentationis rounded
out when one considers that elsewhere, namely, in his
Considerationsmoralessur la destination d'ouvragesde
l'art, along with other conventions of varyingdegrees of
necessity, Quatremerede Quincy drawson those basic Vitruvian concepts (firmitas/utilitas/venustras)that have for
so long acted as regulativeprinciples in architecture.Once
more, in such cases it is not a matterof his pinning architecture down to its societal actualizationsor its indispensable historicity. Instead, he is concerned with defining the
remaining freedom, within and despite this conditioning,
that guaranteesthe artistthe ability to function effectively
and the possibilityof affecting society, and in this way
passes on to him a precisely defined role.
In light of this broadenedconsiderationof the work of
Quatremerede Quincy, it furtherbecomes apparentthat
the discussion of typology is by no means a matterof simplification or standardizationor of a reductivemodel of
architecturalinvention. On the contrary,we must perceive
in his work an intelligently developed construct in which
the link is ensured between the systematicand the histori51

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assemblage 1

32. E. L. Boullee, project for


the extension of Versailles,
1780.

cal or conventional (and thereforealways societally


oriented) limitations of architecturein their reciprocal
dependence.
Notes
1. English translationin Oppositions 8 (1977): 148-50.
2. First published in Munich,
1962. Now in the Enciclopedia
Universaledell'Arte(Venice). English translation, "On the Typology
of Architecture,"by Joseph Rykwert
in ArchitecturalDesign (December
1963): 564-65.

33. CharlesFourier,project for


Phalanstere, 1822.

34. C. Perrault,drawing of an
observatory.

35. F. Milizia, reproduction of


the observatory as an example
of good architecture. From
Prinicipidi Architettura Civile
(Finale, 1781-1800).

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Figure Credits
All illustrationscourtesy of the
author.

Oechslin

36, 37. U. Vitry,model of a


"Home in the TurkishStyle":
utilization of Perrault'sscheme,
plan and elevation. FromU.
Vitry,IIProprietarioArchitetto
(Venice, 1840).

53

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