There are many famous forms of art, for example, literature, painting, music, and dancing. However, some people forget that architecture is also a form of art that is able to delight and amaze many humans, including both professionals and ordinary ones. There are many articles and essays about the complexity and versatility of this form of art, and one of them is Rafael Moneo’s essay “On Typology.” The purpose of this paper is to discuss this essay and provide and analyze some of its quotes and opinions.
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In his essay that was written and published in 1978, Rafael Moneo discusses the typology of architecture. First of all, he begins with the following words: “to raise the question of typology in architecture is to raise a question of the nature of the architectural work itself” (Moneo 23). This sentence tells the readers about the importance of typology in architecture and the complexity of this topic. There are two opinions concerning a work of architecture, and the first is that “it is unrepeatable, a single phenomenon” (Moneo 23).
In other words, any work of architecture is unique, and its uniqueness is its main trait. This opinion is rather interesting and meaningful; undoubtedly, like any literary novel or musical composition, a work of architecture cannot be repeated and the same as any other. Since this theory does not imply any similarities between the objects of architecture, it also does not allow any typologies.
However, the second opinion is completely opposite to the previous one and also has its own reasons. It states that “a work of architecture can also be seen as belonging to a class of repeated objects, characterized, like a class of tools or instruments, by some general attributes” (Moneo 23). It is hard to disagree that there are many more reasons to adhere to this very opinion. According to Moneo, “the essence of the architectural object lies in its repeatability” (23). By saying this, he means that the nature and the main characteristic of any architectural object are that it may be repeated and also repeats something.
This opinion implies that there is typology in architecture that describes all the architectural works according to different characteristics. Moneo defines type “as a concept which describes a group of objects characterized by the same formal structure” (23). As it is stated in these words, there are many groups that unite some architectural objects according to their similarities. That is why, although all of them are unique, it is hard to disagree that they still have common characteristics.
Any architect begins his or her creation by choosing the type and defining its main traits. Later, the chosen type may be modernized, changed, and even destroyed if the creator wishes to. When a certain type is changed, a new one appears. This may happen because of some changes in society or huge historical events that leave a mark on creative people and make them want to express this in the art (Moneo 32). The most admirable thing is when an architect develops a new type as it is a very hard mission that requires talent, time, imagination, and deep knowledge of all other types.
To draw a conclusion, one may say that there are many opinions concerning the typology of architecture, and some people do not agree with the necessity of its existence. Despite the fact that all objects of art have to be unique, there are groups of pictures, literary works, and musical compositions. This happens because they have similar characteristics and should be classified for better understanding; the same may be said about the objects of architecture.
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Moneo, Rafael. “On Typology.” A Journal for Ideas and Criticism in Architecture, vol. 18, 1978, pp. 23-45.