Disabling Form

The Pergamon Altar, c. 200–150 BCE, 35.64 x 33.4 meters (Pergamon Museum, Berlin).. Image © Flickr/Smarthistory

Discussions of architectural form demonstrate how disability is negatively imprinted into the field of architecture. In architectural theory and the history of architecture, “form” typically refers to the physical essence and shape of a work of architecture. In the modern idea of form, it is a quality that arises from the activity of design and in ways that can be transmitted into the perceptions of a beholder of architecture. Form provides a link between an architect’s physical creations and the aesthetic reception of these works. It occupies a central place within a general understanding of architecture: the idea of the architect as “form-giver,” among many other turns of phrase, conveys the sense of some fundamental activity and aesthetic role of form within architecture, what architects create, and how people perceive works of architecture.

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