Disciplinary Out-Tonomy

On the Hermeneutics of Architectural Translation


In this paper an attempt is made to discuss the issue of “Out-Tonomy” providing fertile ground for architectural and theoretical development. First the concept of “Discipline” is identified as a key element in architecture. Various ideas from different authors form XIXth and XXth century who discussed the issue of “disciplinarily ”are then introduced. It is noted that a displinary idea of architecture exists only if there are other discplines. Indeed, the aim of this paper will then to addresses an hermeneutic issue: the necessity of understanding how architecture can translate other fields' means and contents and use them in its own terms. The paper then will discuss some key issues concerning this topic, giving examples form debates between art and architecture critics (namely, Colin Rowe, Clement Greenberg and Rosalind Krauss) and by discussing how a discipline can translate other disciplinary contents and operate a transaction of cultural values from a context to another. The paper consequently addresses the issues “literalism” and “paraphrasing” as some of the classical techniques used in order to embody others’ disciplines contents in architecture, discussing theories and ideas by authors as diverse as Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Claude Perrault or Bruno Zevi. Given such a brief historical and theoretical introduction, this paper will then define Out-Tonomy as the autonomy of architecture typical of the contemporary “episteme”; an episteme in which the digital media have influenced all the cultural disciplines that have then had the task of finding ways of applying these technologies in their cultural domains. Out-Tonomy will be then defined as the cultural domain of architecture allowing the exchange of information between the different disciplines in a symbolic nature or, in Nelson Goodman’s words, the condition defined by the construction of a symbolic world; an imaginary. In conclusion, this paper will define “Out-Tonomy” as a concept including both the respect of architecture’s disciplinary identity (which is necessary for the definition of what some content has to be translated into) and by cross-textual explorations taken from other disciplines.


Giacomo Pala, “Disciplinary Out-Onomy; On the Hermeneutics of Architectural Translation”, in Colmenares Silvia, Digital Proceedings, Critic|all II International Conference on Architectural Design and Criticism, Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, 2016