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Rudolf Steiner's Thoughts on Architecture

Part 1 Dissertation 2000
Marc Martinot
University of Plymouth | UK
This essay represents an attempt to explore the thoughts developed by Rudolf Steiner in relation to architecture. It starts with a short biography, followed by a description of his architectural development and executed work.
Since he was at pains to put his architectural work into the wider context of human evolution and cultural development, this theme is explored to some extent, using Steiner's own recorded, spoken word. We discover his contextualisation of architecture, and his views on the principle of evolutionary movement from 'ensoulment' in pre-christian times, to the possibility of individualised 'enspiritment' since the time of Christ. An attempt is made to come to grips with his avoidance of commenting on Renaissance - and subsequent - architecture, by both studying writers familiar with his work, and finding possibly corroborating observations in the work of others.
Not satisfied with this preamble, it was deemed necessary to place Steiner into his historical context and its paradigmatic dualistic mind set, i.e., 'Enlightened' scientism and 'Romantic' existentialism. His connection to the work of German Romantics, and specifically Goethe, is investigated, as well as the importance he attached to the Christ story as representing that of modern humanity.
Steiner's participatory epistomology, 'Anthroposophy', its connection with 'the other western tradition' and Christianity, is found to represent a synthesis of European thought, countering, as well as making sense of, the modern dualistic alienation.
Finally, the essay comes back to architecture and discovers a lack of theoretical prescription given by Steiner when speaking about (his) architecture. Positive action, a creative attitude, good will, and consideration of the widest possible context (Life) are discovered to be the 'guiding lights' for Steiner.
Due to the nature of this essay, i.e., a circular exploration, no conclusion is come to, but an attempt is made to discover the relevance of what it has 'unearthed' to the postmodern condition.

Marc Martinot

University of Plymouth. Joint schools of the built environment. School of architecture.
Marc Martinot

During the past academic year this student has co-ordinated the investigations within his design project work with those of the dissertation as part of a strategy to develop a coherent and ethically founded architectural position. The student’s maturity of approach led him to recognise that a study of Rudolf Steiner was a key element in bringing this plan to fruition. The dissertation is being nominated primarily because the student has been successful in this aim and has demonstrated a high level of ability in synthesising complex subject material from a number of primary sources – some of which only came to light after tenacious pursuit. In particular the thesis demonstrates a level of critical awareness that enables it to deal enthusiastically, clearly and objectively with a difficult and at times opaque subject matter. As a result I look forward to directing future students who are interested in the subject toward the dissertation in the knowledge that they will encounter an enjoyable, thorough and balanced account.

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