Shifting Foundations: Architecture and Geology in Britain, 1750-1890
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Trotter, Marrikka Maile
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CitationTrotter, Marrikka Maile. 2017. Shifting Foundations: Architecture and Geology in Britain, 1750-1890. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, discoveries across the earth sciences contributed to a new and deeply challenging picture of the earth as an entity with a history of its own – one that dwarfed both human history and that of all life forms. These developments had a profound impact on architecture, which shared the same physical landscape, inorganic spectrum of materials, and representational conventions with the nascent science. Conversely, such overlapping areas of expertise and concern allowed architecture to play a privileged role in both counteracting and assimilating geology’s decentering effects. While geological theorists used architectural metaphors to highlight the connections between natural processes and human endeavors, architects engaged with the philosophical and material ramifications geology presented to the Enlightened gaze. This dissertation focuses on this exchange in Britain, where the intensive exploitation of mineral wealth simultaneously contributed to the rapid development and popularization of geology and furnished capital for major architectural commissions. Although scholars have examined its influence on literature and art, little attention has been paid to geology’s encounters with architecture. Here these engagements are explored in a series of chronologically organized case studies that chart architecture’s fundamental shift from a cultural practice predicated on its own historical codes to one forced to reckon with the external and often deeply alien models established by the earth sciences. In the process, a sense of architecture as capable of resisting the inhospitable aspects of the natural world was undermined in favor of a view that treated architecture itself as a natural production.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365509
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