Topic for Debate
The new paradigm?
Heard often,
"The new is not as good as the old"

There seems to be a popular notion prevalent when discussing/critiquing architecture, especially among enthusiasts of historic architecture, that new developments are not good, or not as good as the old; the basic hypothesis is that everything old is good and everything new is bad.

Please comment.
Shubhru Gupta
The new paradigm?
Dear Shubhru,
This is a great question and it would make interesting links to another ArchNet discussion, titled "Your Thoughts on Modernity."
Alison Mackenzie Shah
Alison Mackenzie Shah
The new paradigm?
Shubhru, salaam -

I should like to offer this perspective on 'paradigm:'

Historically, traditionally and even now the tacit major assumption is that, according to logic and the Principle of Noncontradiction and the 'Excluded Middle,' interpretation of dominant socio-cultural paradigms (whew!) are theoretically based on empirical observation alone. I am accepting the premise that 'architecture,' the design, construction, utility and value of architecture including old schools, new explorations and new developmental schools all fall within parameters of socio-cultural expression across time.

As such, any judgements of 'good' and 'bad' are entirely subjective, invalidating the premise offered. I would like to suggest that we approach the question in a different manner that 'the paradigm' is determined by 'old or new' OR 'good or not good.'

I approach the issue of modernity in this fashion: Really quite simple, direct observation informs us that a style perfectly appropriate in one region, is not good in another. Elements of 'green' architecture for instance, utility of passive solar water heating, extended eaves in Equatorial areas for solar shading, etc. We cannot say these design considerations are 'modern' - they have been around for centuries. However, it is also clear that the combined elements are now on the cutting edge of architecture design schools everywhere and therefore, by definition 'modern.'

So, and I hope you will agree, we cannot summarily define our present design 'paradigms' in such terms.

It is said that whatever human civilisation may devise technologically, that a 'philosophical space' was pre-existent which allowed for our perception of possibilities unseen before. In short, a space in our human consciousness is created which gives us the elbow room to move around and see things in new ways, leading to innovation and creative problem solving.

When we talk about 'paradigm' it should be with the knowledge that (yes!) it is possible that two 'mutually exclusive' conditions can, and do exist. This can be a most difficult concept to work with as it undermines many of our most basic assumptions of human perception. It is, nonetheless my premise that the active parameters of global 'design' paradigm are now being pushed outward (and inward) from this conscious 'space.'

Everything old can not be bad, or good, neither can everything new be all good or bad. Simple.

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
The new paradigm?
Shubhru, Paradigm is just a fancy word for pattern.

I imagine that "the old" are tried and tested things which have been proven through thorough usage, whereas, "the new" is usually untried and untested and therefore fails often until through trial and error becomes proven and therefore "the new old". :)))
Frank John Snelling
The new paradigm?
thank you all for your responses.

first, the term 'paradigm' was used for the want of any other alternative. the topic did not intend a discourse on paradigms per se but this an interesting direction.

while i do believe that most old things are much better in terms of quality and execution, at some level i also believe that fondness for the old is really a matter of comfort. Old things represents familiarity, comfort, continuity etc etc. basically tried and tested.

whereas new ideas require fresh application and to think outside the box. this may be difficult especially since one is constantly influenced by one's surroundings and bogged by terms such as 'inspiration'.

well, i am still unsure.

in any case, can one really draw a line between old and new? is everything not a part of the continuous cultural process? use of terms such as antiquity and modernity, does it not compartmentalise our thinking and break the chain of evolution?
Shubhru Gupta
The new paradigm?
Shubhru, salaam -

"In any case, can one really draw a line between old and new? is everything not a part of the continuous cultural process? use of terms such as antiquity and modernity, does it not compartmentalise our thinking and break the chain of evolution?" (Yours)

You have exactly articulated my perspective, better than I could! It is precisely accurate: Whether one 'thinks inside the box, or outside' - the box always remains! It is our perspective on the 'past' and 'future' which compartmentalize and, in my view become an obstacle to creativiy in the present. This is not to say that design work is done in a vacuum, but merely establishing a truly independent platform from which to explore new process.

shukr'n! (wa ma salemah)!
Anthony Stewart


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