The Combined Contextuality Method as a Means to Research the Relationship Between Architecture and Natural Elements of Place


  • Kostas Biliūnas Vilnius Gediminas Technical University



architectural research methods, contextuality, phenomenology, place, sustainable architecture


The article is focused on research into the aesthetic-psychological relationship between building and place as an important but usually neglected dimension of sustainable architecture. A tool for research of contemporary and historical architecture is introduced – a combined contextuality method, which enables the examination of the relationship between architecture and natural features of the place. This kind of research, which includes visual and sensory experience, is still rarely included in scientific analysis. The method is based on the principles of the philosophy of phenomenology, from which the concept of the two-layeredness of an architectural or natural object originates. Edmund Husserl's phenomenological method for uncovering the essence of phenomena is the basis of the various methods constituting the forming approach. In the theories of different authors of the tradition of architectural phenomenology, architecture emerges as a mediator between place and humans. Although such a concept has long been established in the scientific environment, and one of its pioneers was Christian Norberg-Schulz, phenomenological methods are usually applied separately in the analysis of place and architecture. In order to uncover the contextuality of architecture, an interdisciplinary approach, integrating both of these fields, is necessary. In this article a combination of methods for the analysis of place and building is offered, and in order to enable the study of the relationship between the building and the natural elements of the place, a combined contextuality method is formed. It is based on a symmetrical phenomenological analysis of natural elements and an architectural object. The approach combines setting the place character model and the methods of archetypes, natural symbols and walking, all used in current scientific research. Through the juxtaposition of the extracted genius loci of the place formed by natural elements and the architectural object reduced to its essence, the combined contextuality method enables one to determine and to analyse the contextuality of the building in relation to natural elements of the place.