The origins of architecture: quest for an illusion?

Department of Architecture, Design, and Urban Planning, Santa Chiara Complex - Sciola Lecture Hall (Alghero).

Microsoft Teams code and link: 3vm8oif –

Conference theme

Creatures of many kinds build structures in which to live and work. Are these structures instances of architecture? If so, then a search for architectural origins would send us deep into evolutionary phylogeny. For students of animal behaviour, such structures are as immutable as the creatures themselves, and evolve as they do. For historians of architecture, however, a decisive turning-point came when our earliest ancestors began to take thought about building, becoming authors of their own designs. The origins of architecture are supposed to lie at this point, when the history of built form took over from its evolution. Despite speculations about the ‘first hut’, however, and the efforts of archaeologists to uncover its footprint in the prehistoric record, the point of origin has proved elusive. This is because no such point really exists. Through the example of the conical lodge, traditionally used by Indigenous hunters and pastoralists around the circumpolar North, it will be shown that allegedly built forms are in fact grown within a landscape, through an interweaving of vital materials. 

Biographical note

Tim Ingold is a fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and he is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He is renowned for his work on conceptions of the relationship between humans and animals, the evolutionary relationship between language and technology, and the connection between embodied perception of the environment and expert practices. In "Lines: A Brief History" (2007; Italian edition 2020), he explores the idea that walking, observing, and writing are activities that share the common thread of proceeding through lines of one kind or another. In "Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture" (2013; Italian edition 2019), he investigates the deep connections between "the four A's" - anthropology, archaeology, art, and architecture - from a completely new perspective, aiming to transcend the notion that the first two are the proper domain for analyzing the latter two, and theorizing and investigating their mutual interweaving in the generation of forms of our engagement with the external world.

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