Heidegger and modern architecture

Gerald Lee Walker, University of Pennsylvania


One of the most important aspects of Heidegger's whole philosophic endeavor is his critique of Cartesian metaphysics which centers the definition of what constitutes a thing around the universal concept of mathematical extension in space. Any physical thing such as a building is nothing more than matter extended in space. Following Heidegger, this dissertation examines the results for modern architecture when it too adopts this stance. It concludes that this theoretical base leads to a devaluation of ordinary experience of buildings, the loss of both meaning and the sensual qualities inherent in architecture--in short, the loss of place. Heidegger argues that a thing is a gathering and presenting of the ways in which we interpret the fourfold of earth, sky, mortals and divinities. A building, as such a thing, is what the current language system says it is. Genuine architecture is achieved by not only presenting the current notion of what it is but also challenges that notion by exposing the temporality of our linguistic system and the current ideas of what constitutes earth, sky, mortals and divinities. In so doing, the work of architecture contains the seeds of its own destruction.

Subject Area

Architecture|Philosophy|Fine Arts

Recommended Citation

Walker, Gerald Lee, "Heidegger and modern architecture" (1993). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9413923.