IVA/ICRA Institute for Comparative Research in Architecture introduces itself

The built environment is the result of a complex arrangement of art, technology, human needs and behaviors, as well as the conditions of the natural environment. Therefore, planning and development of buildings, as well as research and comprehension of the evolution of architecture require a multi layered knowledge which cannot be covered by a single scientific discipline alone. Only in cooperation with experts of more diverse philosophical and scientific directions a wholesome approximation to the complex topic is possible. This procedure means to make use of today’s vast possibilities of worldwide connection, confrontation and comparison regarding different international building cultures and architectural traditions. Only this global aspect permits a comprehensive view of the evolution of the built environment and thus becomes a necessity for respectable research work.

On basis of these conceptions two very different institutes from the University of Vienna and the Technical University of Vienna had the unifying idea to develop a forum in order to create a platform for interdisciplinary research projects. As a result, the Institute for Comparative Research in Architecture – ICRA came to life in September 2002. Founded by Ao.Prof. DI Dr Erich Lehner (institute for architecture science and history, TU Vienna) and Ao. Prof. Dr Hermann Mueckler (institute for ethnologies, culture and social anthropology, Uni Vienna) with the support of engaged scientists, students and enthusiasts, a solid base for the ICRA was created. The ICRA is a scientific association for the support of an interdisciplinary, transnational oriented comparison in aspects of art, science and architecture. In projects, which are to cover several disciplines, methods and systems for the analysis of interrelation between arranged and natural environment are developed.

As it is said that a steady background gives nourishment to future projects, the first projects of the ICRA are already successfully completed by the institutes involved. For example, the projects “Solar Town Ladakh”, “The Cultural Heritages of Western Samoa and Fiji Island” and “Titicaca – Tourism Development on the Sun Island” covered a multilevel documentation of architecture. The goal of all studies is to be compiled on basis of interdisciplinary field research systems, which form a knowledge for future tasks of planning. The central element of work is to receive and offer co-operation with places and persons on site and to reach an understanding for local needs and traditions. The realizations, which can be won from studies of this kind, provide a basis for the production of generally accepted theses, guidelines and theorems, which, contrary to past research tasks of architectural science, are built on a broader and more farsighted background in scientific and geographical regard.

The ICRA represents, in the context of this scientific concept, a forum for initiation, conception, planning, financing and co-ordination of interdisciplinary research projects. The ICRA can be used by scientists to initiate, define and finance discipline-spreading research projects in an international circle of scientists. In context of lectures, seminars, workshops, publications and coaching of support requests the ICRA will operate and promote scientific working in the range of the comparative architectural research.

As within the range of science the economic aspect plays a more and more pressing role, the institute wants to provide strength for scientific and interdisciplinary research projects, which were not yet efficiently financially supported.

Apart from the definition and the conversion of new projects likewise “The Plays of the Wojwodina”, “Cultural Heritages of new Caledonia” or “Adobe- Constructions in Northern Mexico and the Southwestern States”, a necessary emphasis on a basic financing for the association is put.

A research on a broad basis, likewise operated at the ICRA, may lead to a better understanding of the evolution of architecture and its influences onto the environment and its inhabitants. In this way, in Vienna, a new center for architectural research can be created on an innovative and progressive level. (UH)

References to the above mentioned projects: