The aim of this heuristic research is to develop a framework that is relevant and applicable for use in the description and explication of the semiology of Kenyan architectural artefacts from the paradigmatic perspectives of Phenomenology and Critical Regionalism, which are conjointly proposed for entrenchment into architectural pedagogy and praxis within the Kenyan context.
The research study is initially situated within the global body of existing research in architectural theory through acknowledging the achievements of selected works of past researchers while identifying pertinent lacunae with regard to the semiology of artefacts1 - including the linkages between Kenyan architecture and its evolution, based on both tangible and intangible multivalent aspects of Kenyan culture, derived from politics, tradition, religion, economics and issues of identity as well as a context-specific history as anchor and an epistemology that favours Afrocentricity without entirely disparaging Eurocentricity and is therefore useful for architectural analysis and evaluation - within the architectural heritage of the Kenyan region. The study then addresses some of these lacunae by adopting an ecosystemic approach, where the historical milestones and key developments of the Kenyan nation are highlighted and structured using a historical timeline in which the various significant epochs are isolated and selected architectural artefacts therein are analysed within the cultural ecology of each epoch. The issues engaged include colonisation of the country, struggle and attainment of independence from British Imperialism, post-independence governance of the country as well as aspects of totalitarianism and pluralism, African Nationalism, culture, statecraft, zeitgeist, socio-politico-economic dynamics and geography which are extensively elucidated and elaborated as appropriate, outlining their roles in the genesis and evolution of Kenyan architectural forms and artefacts.
The issues pertaining to the semiology of Kenyan architectural artefacts are then explored from a theoretical position in order to ground the perspectives of the research study within a datum of a broad and integrative architectural theory. The relevance of historicism, typology, language and poetry to the paradigms of Phenomenology and Critical Regionalism is corroborated. The case is presented for the justification of the adoption and inclusion of these two paradigms into the Kenyan context. Existing criticisms and prejudices directed against the epistemological bases of the two paradigms are presented in outline, discussed and evaluated in order to address the extent to which they would invalidate the use of the two pardigms in anchoring the framework that is developed and established herein. The manifestations of the two paradigms within the case study artefact, Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), are exposed and articulated.
After a brief evaluation of the present architectural curricula in Kenya, exemplified by the programme at the University of Nairobi’s department of architecture, the methods by which a broader Phenomenology and a more inclusive Critical Regionalism could be co-opted into the existing Kenyan architectural curricula are proposed as a means of introducing rigour in the description and explication of the semiology of Kenyan architectural artefacts and to architectural practice within the Kenyan context. To achieve this objective, it was necessary for this study to consider other aspects of phenomenological philosophy that could be integrated into the proposed (new) curriculum beyond the Existential and embryonic Heideggerian based Phenomenology that was initially proposed and co-opted by Christian Norberg-Schulz. Phenomenology is then presented as a first order theory as well as a second order unitary and integrative theory that can anchor, complement and sustain the practice of Critical Regionalism in Kenya. The new curriculum is presented and motivated. Thus, the semiological explicative and interpretive framework for analysis of Kenyan architectural artefacts is established and substantiated.
Further areas of research, emanating from the considerations in this study, are then proposed as a means of continuing and maintaining the dialogue that is initiated herein, through employing the developed framework to build a corpus of the semiology of key architectural artefacts in the Kenyan context. Such a corpus will be indispensable in the training of the next generation of Kenyan architects.
Dissertation (MArch(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2013.