1) Defines habitat in the framework of O. F. Bollnow's evolution of human space perception and 2) defines architecture in the framework of anthropology and primatology and 3) reconstructs cultural evolution with the parameters of these fields

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"ARCHITECTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY" (Encyclopedia of Anthropology - H. J. Birx ed.)

Below you find a copy of an entry of the Encyclopedia of Anthropology edited by H. J. Birx which was published in 5 volumes by Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks/ London/ New Delhi in 2006. It gives a general survey and some specific aspects of this new field of anthropological research. It initially outlines the world-wide problems with the art historian's Charles Jencks autocratic declaration of "the death of modernism" and the suggestion of 'Post-Modernism' as a new "style", in fact a fairly superficial and heterogeneous eclecticism. Young architects revolt worldwide against this 'diktat' from the side of the history of art and are forming organizations for the global study of ethnology/ anthropology of the house and architecture in general (Architecture et Anthropologie, Paris la Villette, IASTE, UC Berkeley, PAPER in New Zealand and Australia, Amos Rapoport, Milwaukee US, Paul Oliver, Oxford-Brookes UK). Most successful are the biannual conferences organised by the 'International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments' of the Architectural Department of UC Berkeley. For more than 20 years the materials of their bi-annual conferences have been collected and published by their 'Center for Environmental Design Research'. Another important collection of materials is the "Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World" edited by Paul Oliver, a 3 folio-volume work, mainly a global anthropology of the house [note: what cultural anthropology had never produced because their interests were focused on mobile objects for their museums at home!].
In this wider framework the paper emphasises a wider classification of the architectural materials in the anthropological framework, the five classes like 1. Subhuman architecture (nest building behavior of the great apes), 2. Semantic architecture (or what can be called the field of global territorial demarcations, conventionally coined as 'life-tree' in archaeology, 'fetish', in ethnology, and 'maypole' in folklore studies. 3. Domestic architecture, that is huts and houses and their hardly know manifolds of forms and traditional environments they form. 4. Sedentary architecture, which is mainly focused on processes of settlement formation and characteristics of their organization, formal, spatial, social and territorio-political. 5. urban and imperial architecture. This 5th group is mainly focused on how evolved historical and civilized societies used the prehistorical concepts by means of monumentalisation and historical verbalization to bring the traditional sedentary societies under their own power and control.


Discussion Forum


Started by Nold Egenter. Last reply by Nold Egenter Apr 7, 2011.


Started by Nold Egenter Nov 23, 2009.

What is 'Traditional Architecture'?

Started by Nold Egenter Jul 14, 2009.

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Comment by Nold Egenter on December 18, 2009 at 3:07pm
Dear Shabnam Esmaeily, you wrote:

Dear Nold Egenter
I want to ask how we could have your research series (Architectural Anthropology vol.1-8), we have the first one but not the others. As we are in Iran, we shoud ask our friends to send them. Our friend is an anthropologist " shahla haeri", professor of the University in Boston. would you tell us pls, how she could find them?

Shabnam Esmaeily

To some extent I have to excuse myself for this. We had worked out this concept in 1992 when we were full of dynamic perspectives to start this new type of architectural research, but there were several factors which became negative. One point was that we had overestimated the enthusiasm of architectural schools to deal with scientific research of the anthropological type. Architectural schools were and are strongly programmed to develop pragmatic capacities for "design" in the conventional competition type. And for many architects 'scientific research' in the strict sense does not go together with architectural design.

So there was not enough interest. We had to give up book publication, also because the Swiss post-office turned into a corporate firm. Prices for sending books kept low before, went up nearly 10 times. Intercontinental mail was higher than the price for the book! The editorial office had to give up our series. **

I myself turned into the internet with a website entitled "IMPLOSION" which alluded to the basic concept of O. F. Bollnow's anthropology of human space. Most of the papers suggested in the 'Architectural Anthropology Research Series' vol. 2-8 were published in this site. About 70 papers can now be found under the title "Research Series Online". --> You can also ask for a free CD of the present site (Write to: if you give us some surface address of yours.

We are now about to restructure this website, adapting it to new systems of pdf-Format papers which can be downloaded and printed easily in the framework of a "Foundation for the Study of Anthropology of Habitat and Architecture" which will guarantee the continuity of the AHA-website. We also plan to make CD's of the site available as this was done up to now.

With warm regards,

Nold Egenter

** Recently specialists found out that the publicly owned Swiss post corporation has accumulated several hundred millions of profits based on too exagerated prices!
Comment by shabnam es on December 3, 2009 at 9:40am
Dear Nold Egenter
I want to ask how we could have your research series(Architectural Anthropology vol.1-8), we have the first one but not the others.As we are in Iran, we shoud ask our friends to send them. Our friend is an anthropologist " shahla haeri" , proffessor of the University in Boston. would you tell us pls, how she could find them?

Shabnam Esmaeily
Comment by Susan Falls on December 1, 2009 at 9:40pm
*An Anthropology of Architecture, - It is by Nold Egenter. Nold - you probably have some other places for us to look? Thanks! Susan
Comment by Anna Marie Goretzki on December 1, 2009 at 9:11pm
Hello! I would like to ask what the name of the article about the interface of anthropology and archicture is? I am just starting being interested in the topic of Architectural anthropology. Thanks for advices!
Best wishes,Anna
Comment by Susan Falls on November 30, 2009 at 6:15pm
Thank you so much! I just read the text - pretty much in one sitting. The book is not only well written, but I think he raises many, many interesting ideas, and implicitly suggests some good exercises for "looking" that I will try (just ordered the text from the bookstore for my class next quarter). I was, however, somewhat surprised by something that perhaps you might shed some light upon. He quotes, sometimes at length, David Harvey and Jameson and a few others in ways that elide their main arguments - for example, the issue with space-time compression as elucidated by Harvey has to do with advanced capitalism more than anything else - since he is drawing on Harvey and Jameson and others, I wonder why Pallasmaa does not raise the issue of political economy beyond just one or two mild remarks?
I can't wait to see what myu students think - I am sure this little book will blow their minds.
Best, Susan
PS: i saw on-line an article that you wrote about the interface of anthropology and architecture which is how I got here in the first place! So thanks for that!
Comment by Nold Egenter on November 24, 2009 at 6:47pm
Dear Susan Falls,
Good idea to open architectural students' eyes for Juhani Pallasmaa's "The Eyes of the Skin". I have not studied the book, but have seen it and read about it. I know Pallasmaa and his work quite well. We have met once in Helsinki passing a good time in his personal environment. Main reason: his Museum work and particular his book on animal architecture. He had discovered from my work that he had not dealt with the nest building behavior of the great apes in his book on animal architecture and I got inspired by his dealing intensively with the richness of buildings among animal-architects! We both are close in searching for new sources which might help us to understand the roots of architecture. I have moved into anthropology, and he is more engaged in Nordic traditions and, in the case of "The Eyes of the Skin", with the sensual perception of architecture. He is one of the few practicing architects whom I esteem highly, particularly for his alert mind and his experimental brilliance in finding ever new approaches and solutions. And also for his broad horizon in the theoretical field! I think it is a good thing to confront students with his architectural eye-concept. They will be stimulated positively.
Warm regards,
Nold Egenter
Comment by Susan Falls on November 21, 2009 at 8:11pm
I am thinking to use The Eyes of the Skin by Pallasmaa for my cultural theory class (for architecture students) - any one have any experience with this book or have other suggestions?

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