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Wednesday, November 21, 2012


               Architectonic, a commonly used word in architecture school, was derived from Latin architectonic-us, and Greek ἀρχιτεκτονικός (arkhitektonikos), and ἀρχιτέκτων (arkhitekton) meaning craftsman, builder, carpenter.3 It first appeared in the English language in 1645, used by J.Evelyn ‘Incrusted with marbles and other architectonic ornaments.’. In the 14th century, architectonic was used in French as architectonique, a word with the same definition. 1

               Architectonic is often used in relation to architecture, building construction, or philosophy, and is a word that may, depending on context, be used as an adjective or a noun. In its adjective form, architectonic describes objects or matters that pertain to architecture, or is suited or serviceable for the construction of buildings. In this sense, architectonic was first used in 1645 as a description to the structural quality of ornaments. Other early uses of architectonic include a description of a produced effect and a specification of the origin of ornamental bands. Architectonic is also often used to elaborate on the defined, aesthetically pleasing structure of an artistic composition.1 A painting may be described as having an architectonic harmony if the elements of the painting have a pleasing structure overlaid throughout their arrangement. Being described as architectonic means having qualities, such as design or structure, which are characteristics of architecture.

               Architectonic can also be used as a characteristic applied to a person. A person who is architectonic has the function of superintendence and control, much comparable to the relation that an architect has to the artificers on the building. According to the use in Greek by Aristotle, one who is architectonic is controlling and directive.1 Architectonic people can also be described as needing to have structured plans and someone who holds themselves at authority, while usually holding others at a distant position.

               Used in philosophy, specifically metaphysics, the scientific systemization of knowledge is called the architectonic. Architectonic in this sense, was used mostly by the philosopher Immanuel Kant when he created a categorization of scientific knowledge through which categories have a basic pertinence to human experience or the way humans perceive the different categories.4 The word, in this sense, first appeared in 16601. The adjective form of architectonic can be used here in the same way, as pertaining to the systemization of knowledge, though this form was not used until 1801 to describe an architectonic metaphysics. 

               Also used as a noun, though more often appearing in French than in English, architectonics, or l’architectonique in French, is the science of architecture.1 It can also be the structure, design and form as a whole of a piece of architecture or building.

               Commonly, the word architectural is often used by people to describe a matter or subject with structure, form, or a design that reminds them of qualities belonging to architecture.2 In a way, architectonic, used for the same purpose, can be considered jargon used by professionals in the field of architecture.
  1. Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “architectonic”, accessed November 08, 2012, http://www.oed.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/view/Entry/10398?redirectedFrom=architectonic#eid 
  2. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “architectonic”, accessed November 08, 2012, http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/architectonic 
  3. Online Etymology Dictionary, s.v. “architectonic”, accessed November 08, 2012, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=architectonic&searchmode=none
  4. Palmquist, Stephen, “The Architectonic Form of Kant’s Copernican System”, accessed November 10, 2012. http://staffweb.hkbu.edu.hk/ppp/ksp1/KSP3.html 

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