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Can the new cosmology, cosmogenesis, serve as a basis for a shared value system in architecture? On Charles Jencks

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2013

Extract

According to the architectural theorist Charles Jencks, a major problem in architecture at this moment is the spiritual crisis, and the loss of a shared metaphysics. He believes that it is the task of architects to take responsibility for the public and esoteric meanings of a civic building, although this is an especially difficult task in a global culture where many believe there is no shared value system. Jencks is aware of the problem but at the same time he believes that a new paradigm in architecture is emerging. He describes this new paradigm as follows:

We have moved from a mechanistic view of the universe to one that is self-organising at all levels from the atom to the galaxy. Illuminated by the computer, this new worldview is paralleled by changes now occurring in architecture.

Jencks concedes that this shift in worldview is only beginning, that there is no widespread cultural movement under way, but one can discern the beginnings of a shift in architecture that relates to a profound transformation in science. Jencks is particularly interested in new sciences of complexity: fractals, nonlinear dynamics, self-organising systems, and the new cosmology. At the core of this new worldview is the new cosmology, ‘cosmogenesis’, which reveals the universe as a single, unfolding, creative event perpetually striving for new levels of self-organisation. Cosmogenesis tells us a new story of the universe and therefore Jencks perceives it as our new Genesis.

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