University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Design, Architecture, and Built Environment

April 5, 2010

Introduction by David Burns.

Mas issue university works uts studio 01

© Regan Ching.


The School of Architecture leads and provokes the development of the profession through research and education focused on an expanded practice of architecture and innovative architectural design. Designing architecture is a complex cultural practice that exceeds pragmatic problem solving.



“The beauty of the human form, the pleasant colors, the curved features that enchant in his face, are only as if molded into the exterior shell. They only last as long as our senses. Underneath the skin terrible forms lie hidden. All vessels are intertwined seemingly without order. The entrails balance each, but without harmony. Much manifold, but nowhere unity. Much activity, but nowhere ease in activity. How much the creator would have failed if beauty had been his only aim!”

The quote given above, from Moses Mendelssohn’s Letters on Sensations of 1755, was written during the most fertile and inventive epoch in the history of the theory of aesthetics, the period now known as the high enlightenment. Associated with classicism in architecture, rationality in philosophy, and libertarianism in politics, enlightenment discourse on the judgment of taste places the problem of beauty not only at the centre of aesthetics, but also of metaphysics and morality. Mendelssohn’s example presented a crisis for the status of beauty within metaphysics. For Mendelssohn, “Man” is, by definition, a creature in God’s image, and his entrails are also perfectly crafted for their purpose. That they should also be repulsive opens up an abyss within aesthetics, for it ends the mythic accord between perfection and beauty in a God-given order. Viscera are good, but ugly. What then is the role of ugliness within aesthetics? What role does the judgment of taste have in determining an object’s function? These were the very first questions in an attempt to radically re-read the history of aesthetics from the position of its excluded categories, a process whose implications, both for the theory of architecture and the practice of design, the selected five projects elaborated over the course of a semester.

David Burns


Robert Beson |
Erik Escalante and Alina McConnochie |
Josh Harrex |
Samaneh Moafi |
Nora Niasari |