The Mereological City

A Reading of the Works of Ludwig Hilberseimer

In a positive departure from modernism, the work of the art critic and urbanist Ludwig Hilberseimer offers schemata towards the design for the city itself: its mereological composition.

The resonance of parts unfolds to an alternative of a purely contrasting equation of form and content. It reminds us, that when the ground (gr.: logos) of the city is defined by its parts (gr.: meros), its architecture, the city in turn always also is part of the architecture as its desire.

»The Mereological City« introduces a mereological methodology and contributes to an ongoing discussion about an ecological form of urban design.

€34.99 * $40.00 *

12 April 2016, 258 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-3466-2

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Daniel Köhler

Daniel Köhler, UCL Bartlett, London, United Kingdom and University of Innsbruck, Austria

... with Daniel Köhler

1. Why a book on this subject?

Constantly, ecological integrity of architectural objects and cities are judged by means of technical, extra-disciplinary artifacts. But not by the articulation of the architecture itself. This leads to the question: Is there a form of knowledge in architecture that can be described as ecological? The work of Ludwig Hilberseimer is one of the key projects for a critique on modernism and its failure. It is precisely because Hilberseimer developed a scheme of the design of an epoch, which need to be overcome, the book departs here.

2. What relevance does this subject have in the current research debates?

Modernity looked to take on the idea of globalization. If we experience the world to be in a state of complete globalization then the past criticism of modernism is no longer relevant. This book looks to speculate on the possibilities on taking this one step further. Therefore, I propose the revaluation of the modernist method. Through an examination of Hilberseimer's work, his sources in the writings of the art historian Alois Riegl and an influence of Nietzsche's philosophy at the turn of the 20th century, the book unfolds an understanding of architectural elements depending on particular rather than universal abstractions: the modernist schema as a form of mereological composition.

3. What new perspectives does your book open up?

The current perceptive that arises in my book raises questions on composition. The book places a theory from the reading of designs, instead of preceding design with a theory. By this, the mereological becomes independent of the meaning of style or any meta-language, which allows drawing historically different architectural objects coherent. By combining both history and design, the work enables us to look to histories, as if they are algorithmic and digital.

4. Your book in only one sentence:

This book describes architecture as a compositional tension, realized with a multiplicity of buildings, with the city itself.

Daniel Köhler
Book title
The Mereological City A Reading of the Works of Ludwig Hilberseimer
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung, 62 SW-Abbildungen, 22 Farbabbildungen
Commodity Group
ARC010000 POL002000
Release date
12 April 2016
Architektur, Stadt
Architecture, Urbanism, Computational Design, Architecture History, Art History, Philosophy
Modernism, Digital Architecture, Urban Design, Bauhaus, City Architecture, Architecture, Theory of Art, City, Urban Planning, Art Theory

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