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Comparative Architecture



Magda Mària Serrano          Sílvia Musquera Felip




Tuesday 15:30 - 18:30


Comparing buildings is like studying and analysing them. We can carry out an analysis by confining ourselves exclusively to the object studied, but we can also do so by contrasting it with another building and allowing the characteristics of one to be reflected in the other. In this way, relationships emerge that highlight aspects of both that would not otherwise have arisen. It is as if to study a building we did it from the perspective of another, thus illuminating a new point of view.

The choice of examples to be compared is essential, as it allows for very different discourses depending on which "opponent" is chosen. A well-known case of comparison between seemingly unconnected buildings is that of Villa Foscari (La Malcontenta) by Andrea Palladio and Villa Stein-de-Monzie by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, a comparison developed by Colin Rowe in "The Mathematics of Ideal Housing" and whose reading is obligatory for this subject. Similarly, an exemplary book of this way of proceeding is Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi.

The buildings studied with this methodology do not have to be of the same period, or of the same author, or be dedicated to the same use. Sometimes the comparison begins to be triggered by some common factor, however simple it may be; other times, that same factor is hidden and must be made visible.

In this subject it is useful to think that we also compare when we design a building. Often, in the process of elaborating a project especially in the first steps we use comparison to elaborate the arguments of its dimension, programme, composition, form or relationship to the environment in which it is found. Comparing, we look for certainties or we put into evidence doubts. The architectural background we possess is channelled through these comparisons and this subject aims to develop a methodology and knowledge of its own that may be useful in the development of the architectural project.