architecture’s poetic beginning

a response to Louis Kahn’s “The Room, the Street, and Human Agreement” from the book Louis Kahn:  Essential Texts.


What’s to be made of a room without light, and what purpose, if any, does it serve—this would be my question to Kahn.  He responds with, “The lightless corridor, never a room, aspires to the hall overlooking the garden.”  Though I too believe that a room without light aspires to be something else, I would argue that it does not only aspire to overlook.  Its presence as a room can also be influenced by human agreement.  Much in the same way that “A long street [can become] a succession of rooms given their distinction, room for room, by their meeting of crossing streets,” a succession of empty, lightless rooms can also lead to further discovery and distinction.

If the hallway is an airway, a place of passage, the rooms become appendages.  This place of passage, much like a street, takes shape of the body, and every room or act of architecture is inspired by the street.  These inspirations are, as Kahn mentions, acts of human agreement.  He states, “The institution will die when its inspirations are no longer felt and when it operates as a matter of course.  Human agreement, however, once it presents itself as a realization is indestructible.”  And there’s a lot of truth to this statement.

Architecture must continue to be thought of as “an offering to the spirit of architecture and its poetic beginning.”    Every room, building, street, and city has a beginning, and that beginning is deeply rooted within the desire for human expression, using only technology that is inspired and demanding.


and here’s a link to the original article:


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