Architecture and Image-Making

In Rowe and Slutsky’s “Transparency: Literal and Phenomenon” they present an argument on materiality not through tactility but rather through visuality. The points of view that the architect creates physically on site and the perceptions created in the viewer’s mind are utilized in the creation of materiality and the construction of material qualities. Before entering the building and experiencing it, the architectural elements and how the materials are used  could create an image, an imagined view, in the viewer’s mind. This is defined as a phenomenological transparency.


This I juxtapose with a sentence from Banham’s 1955 article on the New Brutalism, “Basically, it requires that the building should be an immediately apprehensible visual entity, and that the form grasped by the eye should be confirmed by the experience of the building in use.” While the connection between sight and experience he presents on the New Brutalism contrasts what Rowe and Slutsky describe as happening in Le Corbusier’s building, I find it interesting to consider the idea that image-making is at the heart of architecture. That not only the act of designing and but also experiencing architecture is an act of image-making.


Interestingly, Rowe and Slutsky’s text does mention photographic views and what is emphasized through them as a way to read and understand the architecture of a building. What is played up in the photographs is revealing of the intent behind the architecture.

this student blog is part of the critical terms in modern architecture course requirements at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago