Volume 4, Issue 1, Spring 2012
Christophe Van Gerrewey
Christian Norberg-Schulz (1926-2000)
Architecture Protected by Phenomenology
The Norwegian historian Christian Norberg-Schulz (1926-2000) is held responsible, in general, for introducing phenomenological methods and concepts into the field of architecture theory, criticism and history. This article examines his legacy and his writings by focusing on one text on the Pyramide-Le-Perthus, built in France in 1976 by the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill. In an exemplary way, this text shows how Norberg-Schulz used phenomenology not to ‘experience’
contemporary architecture, but rather to protect it from the problems of the modern world. Norberg-Schulz wrote that architecture should “tell us what being in the world implies,” but the world he constructed by means of a phenomenological reading of architecture, proves to be very narrow and almost absurd.