symmetry reassessment

Symmetry in Architecture: Reassessment

The topic of symmetry continues to be a dynamic and fruitful one in many fields—but architecture is not one of them. Indeed, as we have seen, architecture as a profession continues to be dominated by a school of thought that is charitably described as an obsolete relic of an earlier and more elementary industrial age. A more critical view is that architectural leadership has become wilfully illiterate in the fields whose findings might complicate their comfortable sinecures as art supplies to an unsustainable technocracy.

Were this situation to change—and there is mounting evidence that it must, not only for the quality of the human environment, but for the well-being and even the sustainability of human culture—a great many sacred cows would have to be slaughtered: 1) the idea that novelty and disruption are paramount; 2) the idea that the products of machinery, any machinery, will make perfectly good human environments; 4) the idea that only artistic Philistines will challenge that idea; and 4) perhaps most important, the idea that the art of building lies not in illuminating and enriching the forms and patterns of life and nature, but in supplanting them with artistic abstractions. As the urbanist Jane Jacobs famously observed, this confusion of the roles of art and life is bad for life—and likely bad for art too.