A Short Introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture

by Bernard Rudofsky


The exhibition ATchitecture With out ATchitects, proven on the Museum of Fashionable
Artwork from November 9,1964 to February 7, 1965, was commissioned by the Division of Circulating Exhibitions underneath the auspices of the Worldwide Council
of the Museum of Fashionable Artwork. Each the exhibition and the accompanying publication have been ready and designed by the creator, Marketing consultant to the Division of Architecture and Design.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Basis and the Ford Basis helped to finance the analysis for this undertaking by awarding fellowships to the director of the exhibition for a research of non-formal, non-classified architecture.

These grants may by no means have been given with out the enthusiastic suggestions of the architects Walter Gropius, Pietro Belluschi, Jose Luis Sert. Richard Neutra. Gio Ponti. Kenzo Tange, and the Museum’s Director, Rene d’Hamoncourt, all of whom hail from nations wealthy in vernacular architecture. Honest thanks go to the many individuals, too quite a few to record right here, who contributed to this undertaking in numerous methods. Particular tributes. nonetheless, are resulting from Mme.

Renee Heyum, Musee de I’Homme, Paris; Miss Ruth M. Anderson. The Hispanic Society of America, New York; the workers of the Frobenius Institute, Frankfurt, and Dr. Myron B. Smith, Islamic Archives, Washington, D.C. Analysis help was rendered with exemplary endurance by Miss Ellen Marsh. Credit for pictures, a lot of which have been generously donated, are listed on the final web page.

Vernacular architecture doesn’t undergo vogue cycles. It’s almost immutable, certainly, unimprovable, because it serves its objective to perfection. As a rule, the origin of indigenous building varieties and development strategies is misplaced within the distant previous.

Beneath, homes typical of the Mediterranean space.Preface Architectural historical past, as written and taught within the Western world, has by no means been involved with various choose cultures. By way of area it contains however a small pan of the globe-Europe, stretches of Egypt and Anatolia-or little greater than was identified within the second century A.D. Furthermore, the evolution of architecture is often handled solely in its late phases. Skipping the primary fifty centuries, chroniclers current us with a full-dress pageant of “formal” architecture.

as arbitrary a means of introducing the artwork of building as. say. relationship the start of music with the
creation of the symphony orchestra. Though the dismissal of the early levels might be defined. although not excused. by the shortage of architectural monuments. the discriminative method of the historian is usually resulting from his parochialism. Apart from. architectural historical past as we all know it’s equally biased on the social aircraft. It quantities to little greater than a who’s who of architects who commemorated energy and wealth; an anthology of buildings of, by. and for the privileged-the homes of
true and false gods.

of service provider princes and princes of the blood-with by no means a phrase concerning the homes of lesser individuals. Such preoccupation with noble architecture and architectural the Aristocracy to the exclusion of all other forms could have been comprehensible as late as a technology in the past, when the relics and ruins of historical buildings served the architect as his sole fashions of excellence (to which he helped himself as a matter after all and comfort). however right now. when the copying of historic varieties is on the wane. when banking homes or railroad stations don’t

essentially must resemble prayers in stone to encourage confidence. such self-imposed limitation seems absurd.
Architecture With out Architects makes an attempt to interrupt down our slim ideas of the artwork of building by introducing the unfamiliar world of nonpedigreed architecture. It’s so little identified that we do not actually have a title for it. For need of a generic label. we will name it vernacular. nameless. spontaneous. indigenous. rural,
because the case could also be. Sadly. our view of the full image of nameless architecture is distorted by a scarcity of paperwork, visible and in any other case. Whereas we’re moderately properly knowledgeable concerning the inventive goals and technical proficiency of painters who lived 30.000 years earlier than our time. archaeologists take into account themselves fortunate after they stumble over the vestiges of a city that goes again to the third millennium B.C. solely. For the reason that query of the beginnings of architecture isn’t solely authentic however bears closely on the theme of the exhibition.
it’s only correct to allude. even when cursorily.

to doable sources.
A nation that swears by the Bible additionally finds it an incomparable guide of reference. Alas. the explicitness of the Scriptures in issues of architecture isn’t as disconcerting as after we be taught (Genesis IV: 17) that Adam’s son Cain constructed a metropolis and named it after his son Enoch. A one-family city, pleasant because it sounds, is a most extravagant enterprise and absolutely was by no means repeated in the middle of historical past. If it proves something. it illustrates the breathtaking progress made inside a single technology. from the blessed hummingbird existence in well-supplied Paradise to the exasperatingly sophisticated organism that may be a city. Skeptics who dismiss Enoch as a chimera will discover extra significance within the Ark.

significantly in view of the truth that it was commissioned by the Lord Himself and constructed to His specs. The query whether or not the Ark should be referred to as a building or a nautical craft is redundant. The Ark had no keel. the keel being an mental invention of later days. and we could safely assume that ships weren’t often known as but. since their existence would have defeated the very objective of the Flood. When Noah landed on Mount Ararat he was 601 years outdated, a person previous his prime. He most popular to commit the remainder of his life to viniculture and left the duty of building to his sons.

The Bible mentions (Genesis IX: 27) Shem’s huts-probably put along with
among the Ark’s lumber-but the decline in architecture was sealed.
The impious preferring to show to science of their quest for the origins of architecture should swallow a couple of indigestible info. For it appears that evidently lengthy earlier than the primary enterprising man bent some twigs right into a leaky roof, many animals have been already completed builders. It’s unlikely that beavers received the concept of building dams by watching human dam-builders at work. It in all probability was the opposite means.

Probably, man received his first incentive to place up a shelter from his cousins, the anthropomorphous apes. Darwin noticed that the orang within the islands of the
Far East, and the chimpanzees in Africa, construct platforms on which they sleep,
“and, as each species comply with the identical behavior, it may be argued that this was resulting from intuition, however we can’t really feel positive that it isn’t the results of each animals having related needs, and possessing related powers of reasoning.” Untamed apes don’t share man’s urge to hunt shelter in a pure cave, or underneath an overhanging rock, however want an ethereal scaffolding of their very own making. At one other level in The Descent of Man, Darwin writes that “the orang is understood to cowl itself at night time with the leaves of the Pandanus”; and Brehm famous that one in all his baboons “used to guard itself from the warmth of the solar by throwing a straw-mat over his head.

In these habits,” he conjectured, “we in all probability see the primary steps in direction of a few of thesimpler arts, similar to Tude aTchitectuTe and costume. as they come up among the many early
progenitors of man.” (Our italics.) Suburban man faIling asleep close to his garden mower, pulling a piece of his Sunday paper over his head. thus re-enacts the start of architecture.

But even earlier than males and beasts walked the earth. there existed some form of architecture. coarsely modeled by the primeval forces of creation and sometimes polished by wind and water into elegant buildings (fig. 19). Pure caves. espe· cially. maintain an incredible fascination for us. Caves. having been amongst man’s earliest shelters. could transform his final ones. At any price. they have been chosen with nice foresight as depositories for our most valuable artifacts-government and enterprise information. It’s after all not throughout the scope of this exhibition to furnish a capsule historical past of nonpedigreed architecture. nor even a sketchy typology. It merely ought to assist us to free ourselves from our slim world of official and business archi·
Though unique arts have lengthy been appreciated within the Western world-not.
nonetheless, with out being cautiously dubbed “primitive”-exotic architecture (the phrase unique is right here utilized in its unique that means. alien) has evoked no response. and remains to be relegated to the pages of geographic and anthropological magazines. Certainly, other than a couple of regional research and scattered notes. no literature exists on the topic. Currently although. ever for the reason that artwork of touring has suffered conver· sion into an business. the charms of “image.postcard cities” and the “standard”
architecture of “fairy-tale nations” have proved of appreciable attraction. Nonetheless.
our perspective is plainly condescending.
Little question the picturesque component allounds in our pictures. but. once more. the exhibition isn’t an train in quaintness nor a journey information. besides within the sense that it marks some extent of departure for the exploration of our architectural preju· dices. It’s frankly polemic. evaluating because it does. if solely by implication. the serenity of the architecture in so-called underdeveloped nations with the architectural blight in industrial nations. In orthodox architectural historical past, the emphasis is on the work of the person architect; right here the accent is on com· munal enterprise. Pietro Belluschi outlined communal architecture as “a communal artwork, not produced by a couple of intellectuals or specialists however by the spontaneous and persevering with exercise of a complete individuals with a typical heritage, performing underneath a neighborhood of expertise.” It could be argued that this artwork has no place in a uncooked civilization, besides, the lesson to be derived from- this architecture needn’t be utterly misplaced to us.

There’s a lot to be taught from architecture earlier than it grew to become an knowledgeable’s artwork. The untutored builders in area and time-the protagonists of this show-demonstrate an admirable expertise for becoming their buildings into the pure environment. As a substitute of making an attempt to “conquer” nature, as we do, they welcome the vagaries of local weather and the problem of topography. Whereas we discover flat, featureless nation most to our liking (any flaws within the terrain are simply erased by the appliance of a bulldozer), extra refined individuals are attracted by rugged nation.

In truth, they don’t hesitate to hunt out essentially the most sophisticated configurations within the panorama. Probably the most sanguine of them have been identified to decide on veritable eyries for his or her building sites-Machu Picchu, Monte Alban, the craggy bastions of the
monks’ republic on Mount Athos, to say just some acquainted ones.
The tendency to construct on websites of inauspicious entry might be traced little question to a
need for safety however maybe much more so to the necessity of defining a neighborhood’S
borders. Within the outdated world, many cities are nonetheless solidly enclosed by moats, lagoons, glacis, or partitions which have lengthy misplaced their defensive worth. Though the partitions current no hurdles to invaders, they assist to thwart undesirable growth. The very phrase urbanity is linked to them, the Latin urbs that means walled city.

Therefore, a city that aspires to being a murals have to be as finite as a portray, a guide, or a bit of music. Harmless as we’re of this type of deliberate parenthood within the subject of urbanistics, we exhaust ourselves in architectural proliferation.

Our cities, with their air of futility, develop unchecked-an architectural eczema that defies all remedy. Ignorant as we’re of the duties and privileges of people that stay in older civilizations, acquiesce as we do in accepting chaos and ugliness as our foreordained destiny, we neutralize any and all misgivings concerning the inroads of architecture on our lives with lame protests directed at no one particularly.

A part of our troubles outcomes from the tendency to ascribe to architects-or, for
that matter, to all specialists-exceptional perception into issues of residing when, in fact, most of them are involved with issues of enterprise and status. Apart from, the artwork of residing is neither taught nor inspired on this nation. We take a look at it as a type of debauch, little conscious that its tenets are frugality, cleanliness, and a basic respect for creation, to not point out Creation.

To no small diploma, this example happened by way of the diligence of the historian. By invariably emphasizing the components performed by architects and their patrons he has obscured the abilities and achievements of the nameless builders, males whose ideas typically verge on the utopian, whose esthetics method the elegant.

The fantastic thing about this architecture has lengthy been dismissed as unintended, however right now we should always be capable of acknowledge it as the results of uncommon good sense within the dealing with of sensible issues. The shapes of the homes, typically transmitted by way of 100 generations (fig. 146), appear eternally legitimate, like these of their
Above all, it’s the humaneness of this architecture that should convey forth
some response in us. As an example, it merely by no means happens to us to make streets into oases moderately than deserts. In nations the place their operate has not but deterio­

City plan of Canton, China. From L’Ambassade de la Compagnie Orientale, 1665.
rated into highways and parking tons, a lot of preparations make streets match for people: pergole and awnings (that’s, awnings unfold throughout a road), tentlike buildings, or everlasting roofs. All are attribute of the Orient, or nations with an oriental heritage, like Spain. Probably the most refined road coverings, a tangible expression of civic solidarity-or, ought to one say, of philanthropy-are arcades.

Unknown and unappreciated in our latitudes, the operate of this singularly ingratiating function goes far past offering shelter towards the weather or defending pedestrians from site visitors hazards. Other than lending unity to the streetscape, they usually take the place of the traditional boards. All through Europe, North Africa, and Asia, arcades are a typical sight as a result of additionally they have been integrated into

“formal” architecture. Bologna’s streets. to quote however one instance. are accompanied by almost twenty miles of portici.
One other alien sort of the communal vernacular is the storehouse for meals. Insocieties the place meals is regarded upon as a divine reward moderately than an industrial product. the architecture of granaries is solemn. A lot in order that to the uninitiated it suggests ecclesiastical buildings. Though small in scale. storehouses obtain monumentality. whether or not within the Iberian peninsula. within the Sudan.

or in Japan. In view of their nice stylistic purity and valuable content material. we’ve got termed them quasi-sacral.
Other than the Excessive Vernacular-the refined minor architecture of Central Europe, the Mediterranean. South and East Asia-and primitive architecture correct, the exhibition additionally contains such classes as architecture by subtraction.

or sculpted architecture. exemplified by troglodyte dwellings and free-standing buildings lower from stay rock and hollowed out. Rudimentary architecture is represented by wind screens which typically attain gigantic dimensions. In Japan they could defend, certainly. envelop a home. a hamlet. or a whole village. Of the architecture of nomads. transportable homes. homes on wheels. sled-houses.

houseboats, and tents are proven. Proto-industrial architecture contains water wheels. windmills,
each vertical and horizontal. and dovecots, these very important fertilizer crops. Being “contemptuous of concepts however amorous of units,” we could discover the mechanics moderately than the esthetics of this architecture extra to our liking.
We be taught that many audacious “primitive” options anticipate our cumbersome know-how; that many a function invented in recent times is outdated hat in vernacular architecture-prefabrication. standardization of building parts.

versatile and movable buildings. and. extra particularly. floor-heating, air-conditioning. mild management. even elevators. We might also examine the facilities of our homes with the unadvertised consolation of. say. some African home architecture

Skeleton structure, modular building parts, open plan, sliding partitions. and so forth .• have been within the repertory of vernacular Japanese architecture for hundreds of years. Element from an eighteenth century guide illustration.

that gives a good man with six indifferent dwellings for his six wives. Or we could discover that lengthy earlier than fashionable architects envisioned subterranean cities underneath the optimistic assumption that they could defend us from the hazards of future warfare, such cities existed. and nonetheless exist. on a couple of continent.

There’s a great deal of irony in the truth that to stave off bodily and psychological
deterioration the city dweller periodically escapes his splendidly appointed lair to hunt bliss in what he thinks are primitive environment: a cabin, a tent, or, if he’s much less hidebound.

a fishing village or hill city overseas. Regardless of his mania for mechanical consolation. his possibilities for locating rest hinge on its very absence.
By dint of logic, life in old-world communities is singularly privileged. As a substitute of a number of hours of each day journey, solely a Bight of steps could separate a person’s workshop or research from his residing quarters. Since he himself helped to form and protect his setting.

he by no means appears to tire of it. Apart from, he’s largely detached to “enhancements.” Simply as a baby’s toys are not any substitute for human affection. to him no technical contrivance makes amends for the shortage of viability.
Not solely is the necessity for confining the expansion of a neighborhood properly understood by the nameless builders.

it’s matched by their understanding of the bounds of architecture itself. They not often subordinate the overall welfare to the pursuit of revenue and progress. On this respect. they share the beliefs of the skilled thinker.

To cite Huizinga. “the expectation that each new discovery or refinement of present means should include the promise of upper values or larger happiness is a particularly naive thought …. It’s not within the least paradoxical to say {that a} tradition could founder on actual and tangi ble progress.”
The current exhibition is a preview of a guide on the topic, the automobile of the concept that the philosophy and know-how of the nameless builders presents the most important untapped supply of architectural inspiration for industrial man.

The knowledge to be derived goes past financial and esthetic issues, for it touches the far more durable and more and more troublesome drawback of how one can stay and let stay, how one can maintain peace with one’s neighbors, each within the parochial and common sense.

The outdated {photograph} of an historical cemetery on Okinawa. reproduced from a poorly printed guide, is a typical instance of the type of illustration that can’t be substituted by an excellent current image. As a rule. the architectural object has suffered from decay,defacement, restoration, or has disappeared altogether. Even when it have been nonetheless intact, no establishment, no Maecenas. would wish to underwrite the price of visiting a piece of architecture that has not already gained standing in artwork historical past by having been abundantly documented up to now. Our level is that this image. regardless of its technical defects, reveals a uncommon, to not say rarified. architectural panorama. devoid of such prosaic parts as homes and streets.

A be aware on the illustrations
A research undertaking such because the one which yielded the image materials for this exhibition is inevitably beset with unusual difficulties. Apart from the archives of European anthropological institutes. no pertinent sources exist.ARCHITECTURE WITHOUT ARCHITECTS .Many illustrations have been obtained by probability. or sheer curiosity. utilized to the topic and sustained over forty odd years. Methodical journey and lengthy years of residence in nations that afforded a research of vernacular architecture have supplied the mainstays of the exhibition.
Among the illustrations are lower than skilled requirements; most of them
are the work of impressed amateurs or have been culled from the pages of obscure publications. (See reverse web page.) Furthermore. with present restrictions on the actions of the citizen. it might be not possible right now to acquire such uncommon paperwork as the pictures of villages within the Caucasus taken in 1929 by an American glaciologist. or to duplicate the aerial views of Chinese language underground communities obtained by a German pilot within the early 30s. each of whom have been shocked to seek out their handi· work significantly appreciated at this late date.