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Being and Becoming: A Metaphysics of Aesthetic Experience

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posted on 2021-11-12, 23:29 authored by Field, Christopher J.

In the tragedies of Greek antiquity occurred a rare phenomenological event that shaped its people, producing what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued as the highest culture and art of Occidental civilization. Distilling the tragic dramas to a metaphysic of time, the origins of a bed rock of aesthetic experience is exposed in the dual presence of what has commonly been referred to since antiquity as ‘being’ and ‘becoming’. These two temporal phenomena are approached as qualitative experiences, which present two extreme polls of a basic spectrum of aesthetic experience. In understanding their underlying temporal origins, a direct and clear line of translation is found between these elements and their aesthetic import through the mechanisms of physical, tangible architectural properties. In addressing how architecture mediates each, two precedents are attended to which present pronounced ends of the œuvre of architectural conditions; Greek or ‘classic’ architecture, and that of the Brazilian slums or ‘Favelas’. Through an in-depth study of the temporality of Greek architecture we are offered a raw reflection into both the nature of ‘being’ and the fundamental ways it finds a presence through architecture - it is a look into the built languages of our own aesthetic and architectural sensibility. The study of ‘becoming’ in the Favelas is of particular significance, in that it affords access to a more rare, and yet markedly important, spectrum of the built environment; in understanding its deeper aesthetic import, we inevitably approach persuasive grounds of a value that questions conventional practices of architecture. A design based project in the final section of the thesis attempts an amalgamation of architectures of both being and becoming, as a means to understand deeper relations and tensions between them through the more subtle language of visual representation. Approaching architecture through the theoretical and phenomenological lens of being and becoming, we gain a valuable insight into the less concrete aspects of the art; into what we feel within it, and consequently a deeper and more conscious understanding of why we make things as they are; and potentially, through such understanding, how they can be made better.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Wood, Peter