Architecture and Planning ETDs


Syh-Hai Liang

Publication Date



This study is concerned with the fundamental issues in architecture. The proposed perspective is visualized from a philosophical point of view which is central in the thoughts of Georg Simmel, a German sociologist and philosopher. Intrinsi­cally speaking, architecture belongs to a kind of II form-giving" activity. As such, architeicture brings about physical interme­diaries to facilitate the realization of human purposes in other aspects of culture.

The argument is introduced by reconciling “form" and

''function” with each other. In essence, the two notions refer to one entity; Wright asserts: "form and function are one." It is contended that the primary concern with all architectural problems consists in proposing goals and ends and in devising means to achieve them. In principle, goals and ends are directive to devising means. They are to be expressed in terms of different issues of life. Their establishment and approbation arc philosophical in nature. This thesis presents that an understanding of Simmel's philosophy of life may furnish one a vision in prospecting goals and ends, in determining purposes and needs, as well as in prescribing proper means of satisfying them.

Chapter Two presents Simmel’s concept of "content" and "form" which is fundamental to his philosophy of life, formal sociology, and his versatile investigations of man's cultural creations. Chapter Three introduces the essential ideas structuring Simmel’s theoretical formulation of life: Erleben, the disintegration of Erleben, teleological action and preliminary form, turning and free action, a priori, etc.

In Chapter Four, student proposes to identify "non-teleological action" (free action) as a necessary; condition to qualify “organic form" or "creative form." For this purpose, the "part-whole" concept is compared with the "content-form" concept, and ideas of “unity,” "plasticity," and "mechanistic unity” are introduced.

In Chapter Five, ar1chitecture is visualized as a continuous process of forming, which consists of countless interconnected forming acts. In Chapter Six, content-form distinction is considered as an necessary approach toward “design” --which is identified as purposive and intentional forming act. The ideal of design consists in taking non-teleological action. A principle concerning the defining or recognizing of a “form" is given.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Michel Pillet

Second Committee Member

Edith Cherry

Third Committee Member

Matthieu Casalis

Included in

Architecture Commons