The Preface

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In this post I want to summarize for you the main ideas of the preface of “Experiencing Architecture”.

Common language

Assuming that you have already experienced difficulties in reading perplexing writings of books on architecture and art, the first thing that will strike you will be the language of Professor Rasmussen. Only after reading the first few sentences you get the feeling that reading is going to be pleasant.  “(…) if it can be understood by a fourteen-year-old then certainly it will be understood by those who are older.” There is simplicity of logical reasoning, reinforced by a handful of distinguishable examples and successful photos, and these are the reasons why this book is recommended for freshers on architecture courses.

For Dummies?

The even more important reason why the book is recommended, is that despite time or place on our Globe the book covers the same, the most essential and the most basic values of architecture.  It doesn’t matter if you are living in Greece, America or India, you can be sure that after reading your understanding of your fatherland architecture will go up.

We built this city

In spite of your age or origin you can truly experience architecture. But the author takes up one more idea. He recalls the image of an old-time village, in which all dwellings and all utensils were build by people living there, and this vision, of the integrated society which erects their own surrounding and afterwards feels responsible for it, is the particular goal which Rasmussen endeavors to achieve writing his book. That’s the most important idea, although being a little utopian, the most valuable trait of good architecture.

Architecture Now

Furthermore, while reading one can get impression of the sorrow, over the lack of healthy societies, of the author. Steen Rasmussen published the book in 1960s’, when modernists were still not aware of the consequences of their experiments , which in consequence, for example led to carinvasion, which took away cities from regular pedestrians.

For everybody interested in the contemporary vision of healthy and lively city, I recommend listening to the lecture of Danish Professor Jan Gehl, “Cities for People”.

Summing up

Cities like Copenhagen are today stunning the world with their congestion on bicycle lanes, pedestrian-friendly policy and the general number of people spending their spare time walking, and sitting, and buying apples, and doing all range of activities on the streets.

But the question is – how did they developed their cities to achieve such success? In my opinion that there was a number of factors, which contributed to it (and I hope that I will write another post about it, especially through the art of the Golden Dutch Age). However, we must concern the role of such individuals as Steen Rasmussen whose work, by increasing the awareness of many problems, enhancing the feeling of community in people and enriching peoples’ knowledge, and understanding of architecture, built Copenhagen as we know today.

Steen Eiler Rasmussen, "Experiencing architecture", First MIT Press paperback edition, 1964