The allegories of the primitive hut


  • Irem Hafiz


architectural form, origin, ontology, representation, beauty


This study proposes both a contemporary critical stance and a historical look back to architectural form generation through the discussion of the origin of architecture. From a post-structuralist perspective to the concept of “origin,” the formal expression of architecture that holds representational properties and presents universal validity in search of the beautiful is delved into by using three significant symbolic figures of the hut: the primitive hut by Abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier, the Caribbean hut by Gottfried Semper, and the Dom-ino skeleton by Le Corbusier. Each of the prototypes of the hut illustrates the distinct ideas of a paradigm; verifies its own standards to obtain the beautiful; and constitutes a historical lineage of architectural form generation. Either analogous or conflicting concepts of the tectonic and symbolic qualities of the forms are analysed with regard to the constituents of these iconic models: the three basic members of the primitive hut; the four elements of the Caribbean hut; and the four units of the Dom-ino skeleton.

By following Semper’s analytical method of researching, a comparative rereading of hut allegories is suggested in association with Alberti’s concept of “building” and the influence of the principles of classical architecture. The main argument of this paper is that the tectonics of form and building, standardized in the form of hut allegories, can be conceptualized in the dialogue between two significant values of form: ontological and representational. It is suggested that these two dimensions of form should be discussed in parallel with the fundamental distinction between signifier and signified in semiotics, which has been extracted from ancient discussions on the symbolic aspects of architecture. This duality of form determines not only the changing tectonics and new meanings of building but also another sense of beauty and different taste of the time. This paper aims to lay the groundwork for an ontological inquiry into architectural form, the simplest nature of which is supposed to illuminate the intricacy of form production.