Re-conceptualizing Critical Subjectivity and Identity in Critical Regionalism: Phenomenological Inputs

  • Baek, Jin (Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering, Seoul National University)
  • Received : 2010.12.21
  • Published : 2011.06.30


Critical regionalism has been consistently influential in architecture since the 1980s. While acknowledging its contribution to the discipline of architecture, this article inquires into two co-related issues in critical regionalism as elaborated upon by Kenneth Frampton: critical subjectivity and identity. Regarding critical subjectivity, critical regionalism demands one to stand critical of both tradition and technological development. It assumes that one can locate herself in a neutral zone unshackled from both conditions so that she can make an unbiased judgment. This article criticizes this form of subjectivity by illuminating the situated nature of the subject in the continuity of tradition within which one always stands. The second issue is identity. Keeping the identity of a region through architecture is accepted as a rule in critical regionalism. However, how we shall understand the identity is unclear. This article introduces a notion of identity as rooted in the dialectics of opposites, and demonstrates it by referring to Le Corbusier's architecture and Tetsuro Watsuji's philosophy of climate. The objective of this series of inquiries is not to shake the validity of critical regionalism, but to renew and extend its significance for contemporary architecture.


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