What architecture is? Why architecture exists?
Liu Zibin- member of HOOP phenomenology study department

In my opinion, it is suitable to regard the two questions as the ‘conclusion’ of the subject research which is ‘architecture cannot be copied’, because they have partly answered to the subject. About the subject, we are not pursuing a conventional sense of achievements because we know the subject of ‘architecture cannot be copied’ was a trial for us to keep discovering the primordial nature of architecture from the start. It doesn’t matter that much for us to achieve a result. While, what is more important is utilizing the subject to inspire everyone to think together and communicate with each other.

It seems like the subject is picked by chance and doesn’t mean anything, while, in my view, it is necessary and essential. The ‘necessity’ reflects in utilizing the Minority theory of phenomenology on analysis and respond to the common issue encountered by architect. Therefore, naturally we find the common phenomenon which is ‘copy’ in the design industry, but is seldom explored by people. The key of our research is to understand the reason of ‘copy’, then find the method and way to stop copying. Besides, maybe it will influence architecture education and practice at the same time.

‘Copy’ is a kind of imitation and montage without thinking subject. And it is a surface operation without consciousness. We are not interested in the similar question like ‘should we copy’ or ‘how many types of copy’. We concern more about what happened through the formation of ‘copy’, which leads to the result. It is an idle talk for the phenomenon of copy without facing the specific situation. After all these, we start to restore the phenomenon of copy revolves around three clues which are production process and working process of architect; the architectural education way for architect; the perception and use of architect for people.

It is very interesting for us to discover some common prejudice and inherent habitats when following the three clues to disassemble and restore. These prejudice and habitats are closely related to ‘copy’. For example, in the process of architecture design, the professional division and cooperation way solve some questions but cause more problem. Under the situation of refined processing division, the designers are in ‘assembly line’. This is very dangerous because it will make new gap and separation between designers even though it increases efficiency. If one link of the ‘assembly line’ disconnect, the deviation would be magnified and twisted after follow links. Unfortunately, the final plan would be total different from original design. And the same problem exists in the whole process of construction, and it is more dangerous in the segment of structure, plumbing and so on. On the other hand, the originality has been rigidified by the rigid linear working way. Without freedom, the originality is like a tree without roots which captured by commerce easily and becomes the slave of commerce. At last, ’copy’ comes forth and makes architecture loss the original meaning of existence.

Along the process of restore, we have discovered more and more interesting phenomenon which makes us have to answer the question of ‘what is architecture’ and ‘why it exists’. After perceiving them, we are not happy for the effective progress but feel tangle. For me, I suddenly think of no one has asked this question during the process of architecture education and practice. I cannot help wondering that ‘doesn’t it matter?’ and ‘Does there have any answer or not?’

I cannot write any deeper. In my opinion, the answer for this question has not got a unified standard because it would be changed by different perception and understanding to architecture for different person. And it is diverse. Therefore, should we have a standard answer or not? I am not sure about it. But I prefer to choose the diverse answer from the perspective of nature and true.

Certainly, we have thought about ‘what is architecture?’ and ‘why architecture exists?’. The result is temporary, and it would be updated from our continuous thinking. Hope that this essay could inspire you in some way and it could be a platform for us to communicate.

Architecture is conceived and built by people, and used by people at the same time. Architecture is permeated by human consciousness. Therefore, when we are talking about architecture, it is related to ‘people’ as well, when we are doing architecture, it is also related to ‘people’, it is citing the way for people to be in the world on the unique way of architecture to express the thought between people and world. This is the perfect definition of architecture design.
The ‘people’ here is the same concept with the ‘flesh’ of Merleau-Ponty. And the ‘world’ here is the ‘livable world’. Of course, ‘livable world’ exists something which is systemic, dendritic, sensible and experienced.

After conceiving that ‘people’ are kind of ‘fresh’, we need to understand there are a series of things behind ‘people’, such as memory, emotion and experience. At the same time, the specific situation that ‘people’ in is dynamic changeable, this formed the complex presentation. For example, when I want to make a bench, then I begin to think how it benefits me, what size should I make and the material to use, the cost and how to get the materials.

While, when we open the seemingly complicated shell, the nature of things will be clearer to us. This clearness means ‘A clear direction’, as well as clearly towards the nature of things. While, the nature itself is vague, ‘we are always at the beginning’ is only the true and original status.

The significance of building itself is far beyond ‘shelter construction’, and it is not only the combination of technology and art, the frozen music and so on. The contemporary meaning of buildings is far beyond. As the existence of the background, the significance of buildings is more than individual. Architecture is an existing way for people to stay in the specific situation. They are the shelter for ‘fresh’ and the carrier for ‘spirit’.
We keep asking what architecture is and why it exists ? (Maybe there has an answer or not, while, the answer is not important at all than tracing the question.

Architecture education offers a system world and a perspective of "god", but when we are designing, as a conscious and fresh body, we totally forget that we are in the livable world not the world of ‘god’.
The history of architecture is only describing the feature of times, it is a special memory from Contemporaries to ancient people. The truth itself has been replaced by some features which are incomplete and untrue. What we really need is to back to original.

During the process of architecture design, some couldn’t perceive the original connection between human and the world, others, the specific situation. As a result, they step in Narcissism of humanity as well as lost in the strong power and capital which makes architecture separate from exist foundation.

We will understand why architecture exists after knowing that it is a formed exist way of the connection between human and the world. ‘Copy’ is a phenomenon derived from the process of ‘how to design’. Copy is a phenomenon of replacing the true face by style, modeling and proportion. Because we know these external features are not architecture-self. As a phenomenon, copy is the portrayal of prejudice, habitats and labels when people stuck and lost in the so-called culture, knowledge and tradition. Therefore, phenomenology leads architects to discover, perceive and learn out from the average status.

Suggest at the beginning of design, when architects keep asking and discovering the relation between architecture and the world, the others, they will acquire power to pull people out from average status. The power connects people and world as a roots way which achieves ‘the best condition’ of power. Architecture is the materialized and symbolized way of ‘the best condition’. Under this condition, the architecture is open to the world and the others without the constraint of rigid strength. When architecture finds the ‘foundation’, the soil of ‘copy’ would be cleared, which means architects start to stop copying.

Hence, on some levels, the task of architecture design is to pull people out of average condition when they are stuck and lost in the so-called culture, knowledge and tradition, back to the true and original existence.