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Aesthetic value in the built environment

Lloyd, Eleri 2022. Aesthetic value in the built environment. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Contemporary architects have a philosophical problem: how to justify the value of good design, specifically aesthetics, in an economy which favours the objective and quantifiable. Philosophy, however, has neglected serious engagement with the aesthetics of the built environment, despite widespread agreement within the architectural world that contemporary building is often ugly or bland. This thesis examines key philosophical issues in the crisis of aesthetics in architecture. Part One seeks a better understanding of what we mean by aesthetic value in the built environment, couching discussion within an aesthetics of design rather than of art. Exploring critical foundations for design aesthetics, it rejects both the Kantian judgement aesthetics favoured by Roger Scruton, and the everyday aesthetics of Yuriko Saito, in favour of Gernot Böhme’s aesthetics of atmospheres. Finally, it interrogates the common conflation of aesthetic value with beauty, tackling head on the problem of ugliness and negative aesthetics that is crucial to our understanding of contemporary building. Part Two examines the competition of values in corporate and political decision-making, most reductively in cost benefit analysis and value engineering, where aesthetics is often compared unfavourably with the expedient and quantifiable. It argues that buildings cannot be understood naively as the creative product of an architect. Rather, they tangibly exhibit the values of the clients – private and public sector – who commission them. Our treatment of aesthetics here is inherently political, bound to our treatment of equality, efficiency, welfare and the good life. The thesis concludes by arguing, in opposition to Scruton’s insistence that our values are objective and rational, that we should cease attempting to justify aesthetic value in these terms. Rather, those arguing for improved, or better distributed, aesthetics in the built environment should turn to Rorty’s notion that our social values are constructed for the achievement of an unrealised “dream country”.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
Funders: AHRC(SWW-DTP)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 November 2022
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2023 01:52

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