Part and whole: a mereological framework for architectural form

Türkay Coşkun, Seray
This dissertation constructs a mereological framework for architectural form. Starting with the assumption that architectural form is a “disciplinary product” within which epistemological tendencies, historical styles, design approaches, theoretical discourses, material practices, modes of representation and production, and aesthetic judgments have been accumulated, this study assesses architectural form as “a field for cultivating architectural knowledge.” As the disciplinarity of architecture has start to diverge from its conventions and representations, the epistemic content of form remains unaddressed besides the rigorous attempts to formalize the processes of its making and the emerging admiration of its elusiveness. The study observes an epistemological niche that is pregnant with theories regarding the assessment of architectural form and claims that the theoretical and operational uses of parts and wholes are critical for the assessment of architectural form as well as the processes and acts of their making. To formalize an epistemological framework for the assessment of form in contemporary architecture, this study introduces “mereology,” the theory of parthood relations, to reconceptualize “part” and “whole” as tools of cultivating and disseminating knowledge. Acknowledging part and whole as crucial for understanding and constructing epistemological and methodological approaches to architectural form, the study unfolds theories and practices of part and whole in respect to the ontological premises of “foundedness” and “flatness.” It discloses the mereological underpinnings of architectural form following the philosophical questionings, ontological definitions and theoretical operationalities of part and whole and distinguishes two paradigms: “founded form” and “flat form.” Founded form requires an ontological dependency between part and whole and structures their relationality as the very condition of their beings, whereas flat form does not seek for a dependency or relationality between part and whole and accepts both as circumstantial and contextual concepts that are not defined or characterized by the condition of “being part” or “being whole” and thus independently coexist and resonate without suppressing one another. Although both paradigms acknowledge part and whole, founded form and flat form propose mereologically divergent approaches without a tendency to oppose or refute one another.


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Citation Formats
S. Türkay Coşkun, “Part and whole: a mereological framework for architectural form,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2017.